Moss. Ireland is famous for it. Our mild, damp climate means that it grows brilliantly here. It grows in lawns, in cracks in the patio on the roof and in our gutters. You’ll be glad to know that in this blog, I’m not going to be talking about moss in lawns. Instead I’m going to look at gutter clearance. How you can prevent moss and other debris from damaging your gutters and ultimately making your house damp.
If there’s one job that householders can easily overlook, its gutter clearance. And who can blame them? Gutter cleaning should be part of your home maintenance regime – like servicing the central heating boiler or renewing the contents insurance. But who can blame a body for forgetting to clean the gutter? It’s a horrid job, wobbling about on a ladder with your hands in goodness knows what. It’s something that doesn’t usually get tackled until there’s a problem. And sometimes, that’s too late.
Gutters are an essential part of your home. By catching runoff from the roof and channelling the water away from walls into the safety of a drainage system (or a water butt), gutters help to keep your home dry. When the guttering fails in its job, water runs onto the walls making them damp.
What causes guttering to fail?
There are two main reasons a gutter will fail. Either the water flow is slowed down by accumulated silt, moss and other debris. Or it is broken. Cleaning your gutters once a year will make sure that water can run down them freely and fast.
All through the year, but especially in autumn time, little bits of organic debris find their way into your gutters. Maybe a bit of moss washed down from the roof tiles? Perhaps birds drop seeds etc as they fly over and those roll down the roof into the gutter. And then of course, autumn time comes and there are leaves blowing about everywhere. Even silt and dust can be washed off your roof and come to rest in the gutters. Over time it all accumulates. All that “stuff” slows down the water flow so that rain can’t escape so quickly. It all adds weight to the structure and increases the pressure on joints and fixings.
It’s surprising how many different things can find their way into your gutters over the course of a year!
Gutters and their fixings are not made to be weight bearing structures. When they are weighed down by dirt and the water that can’t escape fast enough they become heavy. Over time that can damage joints and fixtures causing breaks. In this day and age, fixing a broken gutter is not cheap. Health and Safety rules say that when working at heights a person should be on scaffolding – not a ladder – and scaffolding is pretty costly. So regular cleaning will in fact preserve your gutters and save you big builder’s bills in the longer term.
If your gutters are not working, your building could be damaged
Inefficient or broken gutters can lead to the walls becoming damp which, if left untreated can lead to mould inside the building and even structural damage.
For a rendered building, dripping gutters can stain the outside of the building. I have even heard of the damp loosening the render so that it cracked and fell off in a frost.
Damp causes all sorts of troubles in a home and it’s really difficult to dry walls out once they are affected.
Black mould is probably the most common problem in a damp house. It looks awful, is hard to clean off and worst of all, it can affect the health of anyone living in there.
When to clean guttering
Cleaning your gutters at least once a year is vital to keep things flowing nicely. It can be done at any time of year but for best results it should be done regularly rather than waiting for a blockage to occur. Some people prefer to have their gutters cleaned before winter sets in to make sure they are working properly. Others would rather wait until the autumn leaves have stopped falling. If there is a lot of moss on the roof, it might be better to wait until the tail end of winter so all that silt gets removed before spring weeds start growing in it. It really is a matter of personal choice.
How to clean gutters
Gutter cleaning the old fashioned way is laborious and potentially dangerous. Even for a single storey building it involves working virtually hands free at the top of a ladder which is risky in itself. But then when you consider that you need to keep coming down the ladder, moving in a few feet and then climbing up it again – that’s physically quite demanding.
This summer I invested in a new piece of machinery so that I can help some of my customers avoid problems with their gutters. It’s an industrial strength cleaning solution. A big vacuum cleaner with powerful motors and long carbon fibre rods that sucks debris out of the gutter channel while I keep my feet firmly on the ground. There’s no mess to clear up afterwards because the cleaner collects everything. And because it’s so powerful, the job is done in record time.
I was horrified and fascinated at the same time when I used the machine at home. Luckily everything was in good condition but the amount of junk that had accumulated in my own gutters was incredible. Standing on the ground and looking up at them I’d never have realised that was all there.
Do you need help with gutter clearance?
If you’re not a fan of working at heights, or if you are pressed for time, I can help. Phone or email me, we can agree a price and decide when you’d like the work to be done.