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BACK TO NATURE – Why Gutter Cleaning is so important

We have just undertaken a gutter cleaning for a new client and we had thought we had seen everything in the thousands of gutter cleans UKGM have completed until we came to this site. Over the years we have found a variety of unusual objects lodged in gutters – bicycle seats – colanders – dolls – toy cars and even tomato plants growing but this site showed how nature can survive anywhere if the conditions are suitable.

The team’s eyes nearly popped out when they accessed the roof as they had never seen so much growth on any site they had visited. We have witnessed saplings growing in gutters before but this site had full blown trees rooted in the outlets.

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A saw was required to chop the trees down as the trunks were so large, as you can see the logs they produced would make good firewood!

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 In total the guys removed 250 bags of vegetation from the gutters and two skips were needed to dispose of the waste (another expense that would not have been required if the cleans had been undertaken at regular intervals).

The site in question is fitted with a Siphonic Drainage System, which works on a suction method.  The advantage of this system means it can clear the rainwater away more quickly than the more common design of gravity fed systems. The Siphonic system is generally a good idea but the disadvantage is they do require regular maintenance to keep them working to maximum capacity – it is recommended by Siphonic Manufacturers’ that they are cleaned every 6 – 12 months but clearly this particular site has gone many years without a clean.

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The amount of foliage present had resulted in all the Siphonic outlets being blocked, therefore rendering the drainage system completely useless. Normally in this situation the result would be that the gutters overtop and leak water into the building but the saving grace here was the that fact that the gutter channels are very deep, which stopped the water reaching the top of the guttering and ingressing into the building.

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The internal pipework of siphonic systems are resistance welded to ensure that all the joints are air tight so that a vacuum in the system can be maintained. If problems do occur with the suction it can be very difficult to repair the pipework as it can’t be dismantled and would entail cutting the pipework apart. This would then require replacing and re-welding all by specialists at great expense and which can be avoided by regular cleaning being undertaken.

As you can see the strainer baskets which are fitted to stop detritus entering the fall pipes were completely choked with vegetation.

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Clearly a network of roots had started to grow inside the whole of the internal pipework as some of them had grown to nearly 8ft in length

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Although the site has been very lucky not to have experienced leaks the lack of maintenance has taken its toll on the condition of the guttering. With the drainage system not working correctly it has resulted in constant standing water in the gutters. This has accelerated corrosion to the steel gutters as they are now very rusty and starting to flake.

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This now means the gutters will require a gutter surface treatment sooner than their normal life expectancy would require. So although money will have been saved by not undertaking a regular maintenance programme, long term this will not have been cost effective as expensive repair work will now be imminent. If regular cleans had been introduced the time to clean them would have been somewhat reduced and that obviously makes regular pre-planned cleans much more affordable than if sites wait until nature takes over the building!

We are happy to report that once the client had seen the photographic evidence of what was happening in their gutters they have now placed an order with us to undertake regular cleans at a much reduced cost than the initial clean!