How to look after your gutters

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  • Don’t wait until there’s a problem – with leaves dropping and wet weather, it’s best to check them now

    Checking and unclogging your gutters might not be at the top of your ‘To Do’ list, but get it done and you’ll be preventing all kinds of problems, including wet walls and water ingress into your home.

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    How to look after your gutters

    Image credit: Ian Jamieson Photography

    You will need:

    • Ladder 
    • Gutter clearing tool 
    • Emery cloth or wire hand brush 
    • Roof and gutter sealant 
    • Anti-rust metal primer 
    • Gloss paint 
    • Wire mesh gutter guard 
    • Gutter repair tape or roof and gutter sealant

    1. Clear and prevent blockages

    clean gutters remove leaves and debris

    Scoop leaves and debris out with a gutter clearing tool or trowel (or use a plastic milk bottle with the base cut off as a scoop). Don’t forget the hopper heads (the holders at the top of downpipes). If the downpipe is blocked, cover the drain, stick the garden hose up the pipe and turn the water on. Failing that, use drain rods to push the blockage down from the top. Fit strips of wire mesh to stop leaves building up inside gutters.

    2. Check the stop ends

    Replace any that are missing (measure the dimensions and profile first), to stop rainwater running straight off the end of a length of guttering.

    3. Treat rust on cast-iron guttering

    Use an emery cloth to rub away small patches, or a wire brush for larger areas. Fill any small holes with roof and gutter sealant. Paint with a rust-preventing metal primer and then with gloss paint.

    4. Fix loose downpipes

    Check for missing bolts from the clips and replace them and see if the wall plugs have worked loose. Replace them if so.

    5. Fix leaky joints

    Clean the joint with a brush and wrap it with a length of repair tape that’s a few centimetres longer than the width of the downpipe. Press in place firmly with your palm to mould it around the shape of the joint. Alternatively, use a screwdriver to dig out any old jointing material, clean the area with a brush, then inject roof and gutter sealant around the pipe. Smooth it with a gloved finger for a neat finish.

    6. Stop a sag

    A loose or wrongly positioned bracket will cause guttering to sag, so that water pools rather than flows away. Tighten or replace loose or missing screws, or fit extra brackets to support it.

    7. Fix a cast-iron gutter

    These are often joined together with bolts. Undo these with a spanner and loosen the joint, tapping away the old putty or mastic. Clean with a wire brush. Run a bead of sealant into the joint, press the guttering into the sealant and fit a new bolt. Smooth with a gloved finger.

    Replacing your gutters? These are your options…


    Cheap and lightweight, easy for a DIYer to fit.


    Lightweight, non-rusting and affordable; can be fitted by a DIYer and painted.

    Stainless steel

    Strong but heavy, which makes it hard to DIY. Pricey, but long-life and paintable.

    Cast iron

    Authentic for period homes, but expensive and needs fitting by a specialist. Buy primed and painted to delay rusting.

    Get the right kit

    Ensure you gutters are at their best.


    Progutter clearing tool, £7.86, B&Q

    Joint filler

    Unibond Roof & Gutter sealant, £9.99, Wickes

    Leaf catcher

    FloPlast gutter guards, £5.88, Screwfix

    Will you be cleaning you gutters before the cold weather sets in?

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