Guttering and spouting
Aim to give your gutters some attention twice a year, especially after leaf-fall if there are deciduous trees nearby.
If your gutters feed your water tank, disconnect them from the tank before cleaning them. Lean a ladder against the gutter, taking care not to damage the gutter. Hook a bucket over a rung onto the back side of the ladder. Wearing rubber or garden gloves to protect your French nails, scoop the debris out and put it in the bucket. Move your ladder and empty your bucket regularly. Do not lean sideways from the ladder (see further information in ‘Ladder safety’ ).
Hose out the smaller bits of dirt and slime, taking care not to rush them all down the downpipe at one time thus forming a clog. It is safer, if you can, to disconnect the gutter from the downpipe.
Replace a broken or leaking plastic gutter
If your roof isn’t too high and you have a good sturdy trestle from which to work, it is relatively easy to repair a broken plastic gutter. You’ll need a hack saw, tape, some gutter solvent, a suitable length of spouting of exactly the same profile as the broken piece, and two connectors of the same profile.
The trickiest thing is getting the old piece off. You’ll need to unclip several clips to each side of the break or crack, to allow you to pull the gutter out far enough to cut it each side of the break.
To unclip the gutter you need to first release it on the wall side:
Press the inside wall of the gutter near the clip firmly towards the wall and, at the same time, push the gutter upwards from the bottom with the other hand. This should release it at the wall side. Once you have released several, you should be able to pull the bottom of the spouting out and upwards towards you to release the clips on the outer edge.
Make your cuts in the gutter about 80 mm from a clip. This’ll mean the new joints will be well supported. Measure the length of the gap you have made. Use this measurement, minus 5 mm, to cut a new replacement piece.
Slide one end of the existing gutter to the right or left by about 50 mm. You might need to hammer it a little to do this. Place a block of wood against the end of the gutter and hammer that, rather than bruise the edge of the plastic with your hammer.
Following the instructions on the solvent tube or bottle, attach one connector to each side of the gap. Apply solvent to both the inside and outside edges of the replacement piece, and to the inside of the connectors, and put the replacement piece in position.
Slide the gutter back into position and allow it to set.
Patch a rusty metal gutter
Cut out the rusty section with tin snips and a hacksaw, bend up the tips of the gutter brackets and remove it.
Cut a replacement piece of gutter (using a hacksaw), about 100 mm longer than the gap, to allow for overlap.
Now, get this bit right! Assess which way the water flows in the gutter (down towards the downpipe). This is called the gutter ‘fall’ and the new piece must be positioned taking this into account. On the low side, 50 mm of one end will sit inside the old gutter. On the high side, 50 mm will be positioned underneath the old gutter. This will allow the water
to run downwards in a stepping motion.
With this in mind, using a pair of long-nose pliers, open up a little over 50 mm of the roll on the front edge of the old gutter on the high side and the same on the new piece on the low side. Squirt a line of silicone gutter sealant in the middle of each of the overlaps and fit the new piece in position and bend the rolls back.
Silicone the joins on the inside only, bend back the gutter brackets and pat yourself on the back.