Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

How to Be Good to Your Gutters

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

How to Be Good to Your Gutters

Article excerpt

MAINTENANCE is a Cinderella word.

However you dress it up, mending a broken gutter is hardly sexy, but it can save a lot of money, and fixing a broken tile can save you thousands.

The Isherwood family - Geraldine, Mark and daughters Francesca and Juliet - live in Southfields, SW18, in a 1906 redbrick villa.

The family volunteered their home for a mini maintenance survey for The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings' (SPAB's) National Maintenance Week, which starts on Friday.

While an average family may spend [pounds sterling]10,000 on holidays over a five-year period, only 16 per cent of property owners spend that maintaining their homes.

With 10-year-old Juliet and her friend, Grace Blackmun, 11, Geraldine and SPAB's technical secretary Douglas Kent, a chartered building surveyor, spent an afternoon trouble-spotting.

At the back of the house a neighbour's grapevine was creeping along the guttering above a conservatory extension. Guttering can be choked by leaves, leading to damp on internal walls as the rainwater seeks an alternative course.

It's relatively easy to clear gutters yourself with a pair of good-quality gardening gloves and a sturdy ladder, but, if you are climbing to reach a blockage, always make sure that someone is with you.

Drains are another common problem area, easily blocked by leaves and twigs, after which, heavy rainfall can become an expensive issue.

Air bricks also need to be kept free of weeds.

Patios slabs often block the bottom part of low air bricks further obstructing ventilation. "A common mistake, inadvertently encouraged by TV makeover programmes," warns Kent.

Top maintenance tips

Clear plants and leaves from gutters, hopperhead, flat roofs and drainage channels every autumn.

Look for blocked downpipes (best done during heavy rain). In dry weather, look for stained brickwork.

Keep gullies at ground level clear and have them cleaned out if necessary .

Remove vegetation from behind downpipes. …

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