Gutters are an important part of any building, but so often overlooked until it’s too late! When it rains and a large volume of water lands on the roof, it’s the gutter's job to collect and channel this water from the edge of the roof into the downpipes, this ensures the water moves away from the building. Inevitably, if the gutters are filled with debris or become blocked, the consequences can be serious, as many home owners unfortunately find out the hard way.
Here’s what you might face if your gutters fill with debris:
Blocked gutters can cause water to overflow and run into the eaves of your house and back into the roof and ceiling. If gutters regularly overflow they can also cause erosion and make a mess of your garden beds down below. Or possibly overflow down the walls of your house inside or outside and near the foundations, causing structural damage over time.
Debris filled gutters can also encourage vermin, snakes and birds to nest and live in them. Not to mention mosquitoes that can breed in any stagnant water that may be trapped..
Twigs and leaves are the perfect kindling for any fire - so we definitely don’t want them collecting in gutters either. Wind-borne embers or sparks can quickly ignite these dry leaves and twigs and start a fire that could, at worst engulf your home. It is important to remove this risk to your home and your neighbours’ homes by keeping gutters free from leaf litter.
Structural damage can result from the weight of water and debris in blocked gutters. The additional weight can cause the gutter to buckle and break, meaning it won’t work properly and could cause a deluge of water onto the ground or potentially into the roof and, therefore, the ceiling of your home causing all sorts of internal damage.
There are also the more recently identified risks to health that may be attributable to the presence of mould in your home. Mould may be the result of stagnant water trapped in your gutters or a regular flow of water inside your walls as it escapes into your home due to blocked gutters.
We trust you agree there are costs to not cleaning your gutters!
The old adage that prevention is better than cure also applies to gutters.
Regular gutter cleaning and maintenance can reduce the risk of expensive repairs to the gutters themselves (breakage, rust) as well as preventing and minimising the cost to repair and replace your home and your belongings due to water damage, fire hazards, vermin infestation mould growth, all as a result of blocked gutters.
The good news is you don't need to spend big to clean your gutters. There's an extensive range of affordable gutter cleaning tools for all types of gutters and properties. As well as proactive action you can take to prevent these known types of damage from occurring.
Ask your Body Corporate to consider such preventative measures for your building if you are in an area where leaf litter is a significant issue.
Regular maintenance and cleaning of gutters makes for an easier process than after there is a long-term build up of debris, mould, plant growth or pests. So it’s best to make it a regular event in your Body Corporate’s maintenance schedule. Of course there is no one-size-fits-all formula for the perfect interval between each clean either, with duration varying depending on the location of your home and number of surrounding trees and weather patterns. . However, all properties will need to have their gutters cleaned and checked regularly to prevent damage and potential future issues.
In strata titles, many understand it to be the Body Corporate / Owners Corporation who is generally responsible for the maintenance of the building. This would therefore include roofs and guttering. However, some States and Territories have legislation that varies a Body Corporate’s requirements and responsibility to do so. As an example, within Queensland they have Standard Format Plans and Building Format Plans determining when and under what circumstances the gutters may actually be the responsibility of the individual lot owner. Lot owners and bodies corporate will therefore need to establish which plan relates and how boundaries apply to their strata title property, to accurately identify who is responsible.
Either way if you notice any of the signs that your gutters may need cleaning or maintenance, as a tenant you should notify your letting agent, or as an owner-occupier your Body Corporate and their Strata Manager, right away.
To get advice on maintaining the gutters in your property with necessary gutter cleaning, contact your knowledgeable Ace Body Corporate Manager who can provide you with the information you need to ensure you and your property remain protected during the wet winter season.