Gutter & Downpipe Maintenance: A Must For Melbourne Homeowners

by | Apr 30, 2024 | Building and Construction, Plumbing, Shed Repairs, Sponsored Content, Tips and Advice | 0 comments

With winter fast approaching, bringing with it cold and rainy weather here in Melbourne, it’s time to grab a ladder and give your gutters a check up. The solution to excess water around your home is ensuring your gutters and downpipes are clean and fully functioning.

Of course, just because gutter and downpipe maintenance is a paramount concern for all Melbourne homeowners at this time of year, it doesn’t mean you should have to take on this arduous task on your own – especially if you’re lacking the property safety equipment.

It’s important to consider ladder safety before commencing any work at roof height. Ensure your ladder has the appropriate load capacity, is in full working order, and is positioned on level and stable ground. If you do not have the right equipment, you can call in a home maintenance service to undertake this regular maintenance for you and ensure it’s conducted both safely and effectively.

Below are the essentials of gutter maintenance so that you know what to look for to keep dry this winter.

Why is gutter maintenance important?

Gutters catch the rain running off rooftops and channel it into downpipes, which flow into water tanks or into the storm water system. When gutters and downpipes are damaged, clogged or leaking, water pools and overflows.

This creates waterfalls that fall to the ground below, causing erosion of soil, puddles and flooding, and slippery algae. And trust us – there are better ways of collecting rainwater around your home than letting it cascade off your gutters and onto your garden beds. Water pooling around the house can, over time, cause serious damage to the building’s structural integrity, even if the water is not deep. Mortar between bricks gradually erodes, wood rots and breaks away, and concrete structures become damp, leading to mould in interior fittings.

In short, you can help prevent a wide range of moisture-related damage from occurring on your property by simply clearing out your gutters in the lead-up to storm season.

Cleaning and clearing gutters and downpipes

So, how do you go about cleaning your gutters and downpipes? Well, no fancy equipment is required here. With sturdy rubber gloves and a deep bucket, garden trowel or BBQ tongs, a wire coat hanger (or other sturdy but pliable wire), and a scrubbing brush, you should be able to make quick work of clearing any larger pieces of debris from your gutters and downpipes.

Downpipes

Starting at the top of the pipes where they connect to the gutters, remove any blockages, being careful not to push anything further into the pipe. Long bbq tongs are a nifty tool for reaching a fair way down a pipe or you could use the coat hanger hook to fish things out.

Some houses have downpipes that do not continue directly to the storm water system underground and instead cut off near the base of the house to feed the water into a wider pipeline down to the drain. If this is the case for you, clear out the bottom of the pipe too using the wire coat hanger, bending it to the angles you need.

Gutters

After removing the larger items, like sticks and rubbish, you’ll be left with a delightful sludge; a combination of roof runoff (algae, bird and rodent faeces, dirt etc.) and leaves in various stages of decay. Scoop it out with the trowel or your gloved hand.

Scrub any stubborn sludge with the scrubbing brush or a scraper then pull a hose up and run some water down the pipes at a high pressure. Observe the flow and if it is draining too slowly and is beginning to overflow from the downpipes, it is best to call a maintenance service as they have specialised tools.

Guard and filter

Fitting a gutter guard or filter makes the cleaning process much easier. Barriers range from inexpensive plastic mesh to moulded steel inserts. These guards and filters can help prevent leaves and debris from entering the gutters and because of their elevated position, the detritus is generally swept away by the wind.

Barriers can also be fitted over the downpipe entry point but a conical mesh filter is more effective. The taller cone filter is able to trap more debris whilst having sufficient holes to allow water through.

Gutter barriers are extra beneficial as a frontline defence when downpipes feed into a water tank. Having a rooftop filter as well as a filter where the downpipes meet the tank means the filter in the pump system is under less strain and doesn’t need to be cleaned as often.

Call in the roof cleaners

Roofs are the playground of birds, possums, rodents, lichen and the occasional tuft of grass, just to name a few. It’s no surprise then that they get rather messy!

Lichen, a combination of moss and algae, can form on roofs, particularly in areas that are less exposed to the sun. Where gutters meet the roof, there is often an overhang which is the perfect breeding ground for algae and moss.

Roofs of corrugated iron, ceramic tiles and other non-porous materials are not generally damaged by lichen, whereas wooden or asphalt shingles and unpainted asbestos (also known as Super Six or fibro) are highly susceptible. These growths retain moisture against the roof, leading to damp, mould, cracks and deterioration.

Using a professional roof cleaning service is highly recommended, especially if treating an asbestos roof. A roof cleaner will remove the growths and identify any damaged or vulnerable areas.

Tree maintenance

If you are home to trees above the gutter line, giving them a pre-winter trim helps minimise the amount of twigs and leaves that build up in your gutters.

Whilst you can’t control the growing habits of neighbourhood trees, you can keep your own pruned. Perennial trees shed their leaves throughout the year but deciduous varieties do a leaf dump in autumn, causing blockages.

As the weather cools, give your trees a haircut just as they’re starting to moult. This saves on cleaning gutters and yards and you can compost the whole lot in one.

We’ll reiterate once again that now that autumn is well and truly here, now is the perfect time to get cracking and get those gutters clear. So get started now before the rains really kick in! Maintaining your roof, gutters and downpipes will ensure you and your property stay cosy and (most importantly) dry this winter. And remember to always take care when working at heights, prioritise your safety and call for help if you’re unsure. With a careful and well-planned approach, you should be able to make very quick work of clearing out your gutters and downpipes in preparation for Melbourne’s next biting winter.

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