Expert Advice on Installing And Maintaining Gutters

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Gutters are installed at the edges of roofs, and downpipes are connected to them to carry water from the roof, away from the house. If gutters are not installed or are defective, water collects around house foundations, washes away soil and plants and creates damp problems inside the house.

Gutters are made from a variety of materials such as galvanized metal, plastic, asbestos cement and aluminium.

The downpipes can be connected to underground drains, dry wells, or have splash pans built underneath to direct water away from the house.

For the do-it-yourself, guttering components are readily available in stock sizes. For example, plastic guttering and down piping comes in stock lengths of about 3 metres. Galvanized metal is sold in standard sizes such as 1800 and 240Omm or sections can be made to order. Check with your supplier. Ordering specific lengths will save having too many joins, which can later leak or cause problems. Before starting work, it is also a good idea to cheek with your local, council.

To work out the materials you require, and save waste, first make a rough sketch of the roof showing the existing guttering and down piping. This will show what lengths you need if having sections made to order, or how many stock size pieces to buy. Standard gutter sections should be joined with suitable connectors. Where the gutter turns you will need either an internal angle or an external angle.

End caps go over each end of the guttering. You will also need brackets to support the gutter, gutter outlets and elbows to connect the gutter to the downpipe.

Downpipes should be installed along the guttering at around 10m intervals, which means most houses have a downpipe at each corner. They are held to the wall by brackets, which are screwed into plugs in the wall (in case of brick or mortar) or into frame studs (in case of fibro or timber).

Downpipes should be held in place by at least two brackets. They are round or rectangular, in sizes to suit the pipe being.

Use a string line and level to obtain the correct pitch, so that the water will run in the right direction towards your downpipe. End caps on the guttering can be soldered on, or you can buy a suitable “end cap gutter section,” which is made to slide into the end of the gutter and held in place with rivets or self tapping screws and sealed with a silicon sealant.

A strainer should go into the top of each downpipe if you have trees around, where the leaves could block up the drain.

When you have all the components, lay them out on the ground to ensure you have everything you will need.

Next, establish the proper pitch for the gutter. It must be properly slanted to ensure water will run off. Decide which way you want the water to run and choose a high end and a low end. Then carry the gutter up to the fascia and push the high end up so it is against the tiles. Mark the fascia where the bottom of the gutter fails, remove the gutter and drive a nail into the mark. Attach a chalk line to the nail. Draw the line out along the length of the fascia. Using a line level, move the free end of the string until it is level then snap it against the fascia. Use the chalk line to establish the true level and pitch the gutter from this. ­The pitch should be between 12 and 25mm every 3m. Then fix gutter brackets to fascia approx- every metre. Starting with the end of the gutter farthest from the downpipe, apply caulking to an end cap and slip it into place.

Drill holes for the supports if necessary before raising the section. Attach it by installing supports every metre, following the chalk line. Since long sections can be awkward to handle, have a helper support the free end on a pole fitted with some kind of V-shaped cradle.

If sections have to be joined, caulk the connector before fitting it. Sections can be cut if needed with a fine-toothed hacksaw, filing the cut end smooth.

Fit supports to each side of the corner section.

If using downpipe connectors, simply slip an elbow piece over the drop outlet and slide the downpipe section into place. Install brackets near the top and bottom of the pipe to hold it securely against the wail. Attach elbow pieces to the bottom of the downpipe and add extensions as required to carry water away from the house. A length of plastic pipe can be connected to the downpipe and buried underground, leading to a dry well (a gravel filled pit) away from the house, or you can pour a concrete splashback under the elbow.

Materials you’ll need:

  • Gutter sections
  • Slip connectors
  • External or internal angles
  • Elbows
  • Downpipe sections
  • Drop outlets
  • Strainers
  • End caps
  • Hangers or supports
  • Caulking
  • Chalk and line
  • Sealer
  • Plastic piping
  • Concrete mix
  • Wall plugs
  • Self-tapping screws

Tools you’ll need:

  • Level
  • Hammer
  • Tin snips
  • Fine-toothed hacksaw
  • File

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