Life in the gutter

In the second of our series on roofs (see moss on roofs) Surveyor Adam Stimpson takes a closer look at gutters, downpipes and hoppers.


In the UK, we can experience a large amount of rainfall from our skies which means rainwater systems need to work efficiently to protect your home.

According to BRE (1997), 1 in 5 homes has defects in the rainwater system. These can range from UV solar radiation causing joints to buckle and become loose to damage caused by human activity, such as being hit with a wheelbarrow or the window cleaner.

Inadequate supports on downpipes and guttering systems can cause the rainwater to overshoot, resulting in water running down the face of walls.

At this time of year, blockages in gutters caused by leaves (and the odd tennis ball) are common. Hoppers are open at the top and are therefore prone to becoming blocked. Once blocked, water will overflow at the top, saturate the wall behind, and possibly cause dampness to penetrate the property.

Poor design can also be a problem where there aren’t enough downpipes for rainfall discharged from the roof. Calculations can be done to work out the number of downpipes required to serve an area of the roof to prevent gutters from becoming overwhelmed during heavy rain.

Older properties may not have plastic rainwater goods, which can also present issues. Cast iron can be of considerable weight, expensive to maintain and present a serious hazard if allowed to rust.

It’s also not unusual to find asbestos cement used for downpipes either!

Remember, your rainwater goods should be periodically cleared so that they are operating efficiently.

If you are moving home and are concerned about your rainwater system, contact Woodward Chartered Surveyors, and arrange an inspection.  Our surveyors work from locations from Oxford to Oxford Street, from locations in Prestwood near High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire,  Chesham on the Bucks - Herts borders, Rickmansworth and Watford in Hertfordshire, Northwood and Harrow in Middlesex. Our administration office is in Rickmansworth, registered office is at Harrow on the Hill in North West London, and The Mayfair Office in Thayer Street, London, W1.

Adam Stimpson BA(Hons) AssocRICS

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