Winter is coming. Will your gutters pass the test or cost you money?

Your property’s gutters are essential in keeping your home in good condition. Blocked or damaged drainage systems can cause mould to grow, roofs to leak, basements to flood, and can even rot your wood siding or compromise your foundation.

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That’s why it’s so important to prepare your gutters for winter.

There are a few steps you can take to ensure that your property is protected from even the wildest weather New Zealand has to offer.


What happens if I don’t prepare?

If you’re lucky, nothing at all. It’s possible that your home will survive winter intact, especially if the wind is calm, the weather balmy, the trees far away, and the birds and possums occupied by more important things.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much bad luck to block your gutters. A few decaying leaves, a handful of pine needles, a couple of stray feijoas, or a single dead possum can be enough to stop rainwater flowing freely from a gutter to a downspout.

If this occurs, the water will quickly build up and flood your drains. After that, two important things will happen.

First, the water will begin to stagnate, creating the perfect conditions for mould to grow. This mould can infiltrate the interior of your house, increasing the risk of airborne illness. (It’s partly for this reason that respiratory infections are so common in winter, especially in New Zealand with its old and poorly maintained timber houses).

Second, water will spill down the sides of your house every time it rains. This can damage siding, reduce the lifespan of windows, flood your basement, and harm your foundation. 

The takeaway point is that it’s not enough to have a dry house; you also need to keep the ground around your house relatively dry. And that’s what a functional drainage system will achieve.

So how can I prepare?

Here are a few of our top tips:

Check your gutters for rust, cracks, and debris.

A large proportion of clogged or damaged gutters occur at the end of autumn, when leaves have been falling for months and steady rain has been keeping everything damp.

If you prefer to do the job yourself, you’ll need to get up on your roof and clear this autumn debris by hand. 

You can use a long pipe-cleaning brush to push any rotting leaves from your downspouts – but whatever you do, don’t try to flush all the gutter debris down your downspouts after clearing it.

While you’re up there, make sure you carefully inspect your system for cracks, rust, and corrosion. Watch out for sagging gutters, which can be a sign of weak connections. Even small flaws tend to get much worse over the winter months.

Handy tip: it’s best to clean your gutters on a sunny day, when everything is dry and easier to remove.

Install gutter guards.

These are only suitable for certain types of gutters, but in some cases they can be a great protection against the onslaught of winter weather. It’s best to get a professional to tell you whether they’ll be a good fit for your property or simply a waste of money.

Add extensions to your downspouts.

The further rainwater travels from your walls and foundation, the better off your house will be. Downspout extensions carry the water to a safe distance before releasing it. This reduces the risk of damage to your foundation or basement.

Get a professional gutter inspection.

By far the best way to insure against disaster is to get your drainage system checked – and if necessary, maintained – by a specialist before winter sets in. Find a contractor who’ll give you a clear quote in advance and tailor their solution to your property’s specific needs.

EP Services have been Auckland’s dedicated gutter cleaning specialists for more than ten years. Get in touch today for a free inspection and quote anywhere in the region.

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