Throughout Brisbane, gutters are overflowing as summer storm season sets in. With every storm comes a deluge of rain — but what happens to that tumult of water if your roof’s gutters are blocked? If you notice your gutters flood even during a modest burst of rain, this could be a sign your gutters need professional clearing.
Luckily, most problems with blocked downpipes and roof gutters are easy to fix and avoid. Here’s a simple guide on what to do if you suspect you have a blockage in your gutters, downpipes or both.
Why is clearing my roof gutter important?
To do our detective work, we first need to understand a little about your roof’s anatomy.
Your roof’s gutter encircles your roof. Its main purpose is to funnel water off the roof. As your roof collects leaves and other matter, the wind and rain will drive this debris into your gutter, where it collects and builds up. Over time, this blockage can reduce the speed of the water draining from your roof and cause water to seep into your roof or the walls of your home. Water stagnation can cause mosquitos, insects and unwanted plants to breed and grow inside your roof and gutter.
You might not realise it, but your roof’s gutter and downpipes actually play a crucial role in protecting your home from leaks, damage and fire risks, so it’s worth keeping them clear and well-maintained. If your roof gets severely damaged, your roof may require extensive repairs and repainting. A professional unclogging service is an affordable solution for preventing this damage.
How do I know if my downpipe is blocked?
Often, people don’t notice that their roof gutters and downpipes are blocked until the roof starts flooding with water, or the blockage causes stress on other drains, leading to overflow and leakage around the house.
If the block is in your roof gutter
Signs of a roof gutter blockage include:
- Accumulated debris littering your roof gutters: Leaf litter, twigs, silt, dirt and vegetation litter may build in your gutters over time.
- Pests: Litter buildup can encourage birds and bird mites to nest in your gutter. Look visible wasps’ nest or mosquitos hovering above stagnant water. Other pests that may build a home in your roof gutter include possums, rats, mice and snakes. These pests leave behind mess, germs, parasites and allergens that can adversely impact your family’s health.
- Water flow: If water flows or drips over the sides of your gutter, this is a sign that the water cannot penetrate or flow past the debris.
Leaks: If water leaks into your home, this will often leave large puddle mark, ringed with brown, on your ceiling.
Corrosion: Pooling water and excessive moisture can corrode your gutter. Gutters that are clogged with bird nests and leaf matter encourage rust to develop as they decompose.
Rot: Moisture, combined with a lack of sunlight, promotes mould and mildew growth, which can cause the wood of your fascia to rot.
- Gutter straps: Loose gutter straps will need to be re-nailed or replaced ASAP.
How often should I check my gutters for litter?
If you live in a place surrounded by trees with frequent strong winds and storms, you should check your roof gutter at least once every two months.
If the block is in your downpipe
Signs of blocked downpipes include:
- Splashback from the pipes: Water splashing from the pipes at ground level
- Cracks in the foundations of the house: Cracks can form if your downpipes are not connected to soakwells
- Mould or lichen: Fungi growing on the walls of your house
How can I unblock my roof gutter?
- Grab a ladder and climb up to inspect your roof gutters.
- Check that the water is draining and flash a light across the gutter to identify what’s causing the block.
- If you can’t clean the gutter using a ladder and water hose, a gutter vacuum can clean gutter from the ground.
Note: We recommend hiring a professional to thoroughly clear the block with a water hose, drain snake, pipe brush, pressure water machine, or high power suction machine.
How can I unblock my downpipes?
- Inspect where the debris is accumulating, either inside the shoe (the angled section at the bottom of the downpipe) and swan neck (the top, where the downpipe bends to run under the overhang of the roof).
- To check, position s ladder so you can get a view down inside the blocked downpipe.
- If you can’t see the blockage, thread a piece of sturdy wire or a thin piece of timber down the pipe until you hit the block.
- Once you’ve identified the location, detach the shoe or swan neck and clean it out.
- Reattach the section.
- Run water through the downpipe to check if it flows through with ease.
Why should I seek professional help to unclog my roof gutter and downpipes?
Unclogging a roof gutter or downpipe can be difficult without the professional tools and expertise. An ineffective unclogging method can damage your pipes and cause your other drains and toilets to flood. That’s why we recommend seeking assistance from a reliable roofing professional who can identify and solve the problem.