This is not an exhaustive or a complete subject.  It is likely to change over time, with edits, additions and deletions, and is simply a collection of my thoughts based on many years of experience.   You should follow your instincts, not rely at all on any of this and you must always seek your own professional advice.


Annual maintenance, cleaning and periodic repairs to rainwater gutters and downpipes should be right at the top of the list of priorities for any building owner.

Climate change is real and the published official annual rainfall data shows that the West side of England and Wales has seen a significant increase in the amount of rain over the last decade.   This imposes a considerable stress on the functionality of good rainwater disposal away from the building as quickly and as effectively as possible.   It is increasing in all locations, but especially so on the West side.

Leaves and moss can easily, and quickly, cause a complete blockage of any gutter and downpipe and it should not be assumed that all gutters will work.   Each Autumn, after the leaves have fallen, it should be a routine action for all gutters, including valley gutters and parapet gutters which are hidden from view, to be inspected and cleaned.   Once cleaned, they should be flushed with water to test that they are free-flowing and unblocked.   The water path should be traced and followed and downpipes should be made to discharge away from the building.   Leaves that are blocking drains and gullies should be removed and cleared.

All pre-purchase building surveys of large properties, and specifically those of high value, should include an inspection when it is raining.   This may require an additional visit if needed.  It is good professional practice to be able fully advise a client of the effective working of the rainwater disposal.  Doing a building survey on a sunny day is all very nice, but it doesn’t help the client if the rainwater goods drip and don’t work and they only find this out the first time it rains after they have moved in.   They might overflow and saturate a wall or run down and inside a poorly fitted window, for example.   It is impossible to see this in the sunshine.

Failures of rainwater goods will always lead to severe consequential damage arising.   If this damage doesn’t happen then it is more likely to be a fluke or stroke of luck.

The saturation of walls will lead to algae and moss growth.   It will lead to erosion of stone, brick and mortar joints.   It will lead to hidden building pathology issues which could be severe, such as dry rot, damaged plasterwork and internal decorations.

Timber work, fascias and soffits will decay from wet rot.   Drips from gutters onto windowsills will lead to wet rot and decay.

Overflowing gutters can back up and cause internal damp problems on ceilings and walls and hidden parts of roof structures.

There are countless other examples of building pathology failures that will all result from something so unnecessary and so simple – the failure of the rainwater disposal.   This is entirely avoidable and it does not need to happen.

Pay attention to the rainwater disposal at least twice a year – one of those times being after the leaves have fallen.   I have commented elsewhere about the importance of tree and vegetation maintenance.   Overhanging trees will always be a problem.

Take good care of your rainwater disposal and you will avoid the risk of severe problems arising later that were totally avoidable.


Disclaimer:   Anything posted in this Blog is for general information only and it is not in any way intended to provide any advice, legal or otherwise, on any general or specific matter that you can rely on.  You should always seek your own legal advice.