Inspecting and Unclogging Gutters and Downspouts

Gutter Cleaning

Gutters and downspouts are an important part of your house. They are there to move water away from the house and into the ground, and let me tell you, here in Liverpool we get a lot of rain. It is therefore important to have them inspected and maintained on a regular basis but it is essential when you are doing work to your roof or siding. By regularly maintaining the roof drainage system, you can save yourself a lot of time and money. If you don’t feel confident in carrying out this work yourself, why not contact JT Gutter Cleaning Liverpool for a helping hand. I’ve used them several times in the past and I have always found them to be friendly and professional.

Gutter Inspection

Inspecting the Gutters

Alternatively, if you are looking to inspect the gutters and downspouts yourself, I would recommend you ascertain a thin screwdriver and a scraping knife. These are great tools for testing weaknesses in both metal and fascia boards. There are a few things to look out for and they are:

  • Debris clogging the gutters and/or downspouts
  • Flaking or peeling paint
  • Cracks in any of the connecting seams
  • Holes or rust spots in the metal
  • Sagging gutters due to lose fastening
  • Downspouts with loosened straps
  • Soft spots in any of the fascia boards which could indicate dry rot

Another smart thing to do is to use a spirit level to make sure that the gutters slope away from valleys and towards the downspouts, leading the water away from the roof. This should be done at about 1 inch for every 20 feet.

Gutter Inspection Tools

Unclogging the Gutters and Downspouts

Start out by putting on some protective gloves before removing leaves, twigs and other debris from all gutter troughs. Continue by using a stiff brush and a garden hose to loosen any dirt that is caked on the inside of the gutters. If you notice a blockage in any of the downspouts, try to flush it out with the hose on full force. If that does not work, try feeding a plumber’s snake into it and then flushing it again. You could prevent new litter and debris from accumulating by covering the troughs with mesh screens. The screens will then protect the troughs from leaves, twigs and other debris by deflecting it over the gutter edges. There are also strainers that can be used to protect the downspouts from debris whilst at the same time allowing water to escape.

A Tip

If you notice any dry rot in the fascia boards, it would be advisable to deal with the fascia repairs before tackling any other repair jobs. Depending on the extent of the dry rot, you might have to remove some of the guttering to get to the damaged wood.



How to Replace Part of the Cold Water System


Replacing the cold water system in your home can be a big task by anyone’s means. To make it less daunting, you can do it in pieces. Therefore, in this article I will tell you a bit more about replacing part of the system, rather than the entire cold water system.

Going Through the Ceiling

In order to allow for the rising main to go through from the kitchen to your first floor, you will have to make a hole in the kitchen ceiling and through the floorboards upstairs. In order to do this, start by removing or lifting relevant carpet and/or floorboard to check where the hole should go. This is also the time when you will discover what type of ceiling that has been fitted below the joists. It will either be plasterboard or the so called lath-and-plaster. Using a bradawl, make a small hole in the ceiling, close to a joist and leave the bradawl in place. Go downstairs and mark the joist position and width onto the ceiling with a pencil. The mark shows you where to drill the hole without going through a joist. Use the same procedure to mark and make the hole through the upstairs ceiling and loft floor. Once you are up in the loft, use compression or push-fit fittings as they will allow some adjustment later on. It also means you are avoiding the risk of fire from working with a blowlamp.

Cold Water System

Connecting It Together

If you have chosen to also replace the cistern and the pipes, once the new rising main are in place, it is time to connect it all up. It should be connected to the mains stop-valve and to the cold water cistern. If you are joining it to an old mains stop-valve, you might have to use a special connector. I would fit a drain-valve just above this. Use a ½ inch tap connector for the connection with the cistern ball-valve and fit a servicing valve before it. Before you make the final connections, make sure to flush through the pipe. Afterwards, fit insulation to the exposed pipes. If you come across any buried lead pipe, you can leave that in place. Any exposed lead pipe can be taken out and you might make a few quid by selling it for scrap.



Remember, you do not have to tackle this job yourself. If you are in any doubt or want a professional to deal with it for you – call your local plumber and he or she will be happy to do the job for you.







Different Types of Roof Ventilation

There are different types of roof ventilation to choose between and it is their location on the roof that sometimes decides what type is best used. When it comes to attic vents and fans, you normally locate them in the highest corner of a gable, on the roof place or ridge or alternatively, underneath the eaves or soffit. In this article I will tell you a bit more about gable ventilators, ridge ventilators, roof plane turbines and fans and last but not least – the soffit ventilators.

Gable Ventilators

Gable ventilators are made of galvanised metal and are triangular in shape. They can be purchased at either a home improvement centre or at a sheet metal shop. Gable ventilators should be installed at the top of the gable and their purpose is to eliminate any heat that collects up by the house ridge.

Gable Ventilator

Ridge Ventilators

Everyone knows that heat rises and it is therefore not a surprise to learn that the hottest air collects at the highest point of the house – the ridge of the roof. Therefore, this is the most efficient location to place a vent. Ridge vent systems basically consist of long and inverted metal trough which allows air to leave the house easily and without taking in any rain. Remember to install ridge vents before you lay any roofing materials. I have mentioned this before but if you are doing any major work to your roof, try to deal with other roof related jobs at the same time. This could be work to with the gutters, chimneys, skylights and so on.

Ridge Ventilator

Roof Plane Turbines and Fans

The turbine vent is a clever invention. Once placed on the roof it acts in two different ways depending on weather. In calm weather they act as a free ventilation space whilst they generate an air flow when it is windy. When it is hot outside, you can avoid the need to use air conditioners by placing powered attic exhaust fans over ceiling vents. They work by increasing the natural air convection. If you are looking to purchase a normal exhaust fan, take into account its noise level and air flow. The airflow is calculated in cubic feet per minute or CFM for short. Noise levels on the other hand are measured in ‘sones’ where the lower the number, the quieter the fan is.

Roof Turbine

Soffit Ventilators

These ventilators are rectangular in shape and placed, as the name advises, at the soffit or by the eaves of the roof.  They provide an in-flow of cooled air whilst warm air convection draws the air upwards and through the gable and/or ridge ventilators. Another great thing with soffit ventilators is that they will assist in drying out the roof decks if they have leaked – especially by the eaves.

Soffit Ventilator

The Importance of Roof Ventilation

Roof Ventilation

Roof Ventilation

Did you know that breathing, cooking, showering and washing all add water into the air? It is believed to add between 5-10 pounds of water into the air in your home – every day! If you are washing and drying your clothes, you can add another 30 pounds of water on top of that. This moisture will condense once it reaches the attic and will cause damage to insulation, sheathing, rafters and if the moisture problem is really severe – it can even damage roofing materials made out of asphalt and wood. It is therefore very important that your house has adequate ventilation. Thanks to modern ventilation products such as attic fans and roof vents, you can allow the house to breathe, ridding the house of unwanted moisture. Good ventilation will also get rid of accumulated heat, fumes, smoke and vapours. If you are looking to improve the ventilation of your house, make sure to implement this when you are preparing the roof deck. Always try to deal with roof related work such as cleaning and repairing gutters when you are already doing work up on the roof.

Roof Ventilation System

Ventilation Needed

There are certain factors that decide how much ventilation a house needs. Things like sun, shade and wind direction has to be taken into account and the roof lines themselves can either encourage or interrupt the flow or air. A building inspector or a ventilation contractor can tell you what the ventilation needs of your house are and if need be, what size vents you need and where they are best placed. There are some rough guides about the amount of ventilation needed.

Roof Vent

Generally, 1 square foot of a free vent opening should be enough for 150 square feet of an attic floor. A free vent opening is an opening with no wire or grill-work taken into consideration. Remember that any wire or grill-work area will have to be subtracted. If your vent is covered by a wire mesh of 1/8 of an inch to ¼ of an inch, it will have to be about 1 ¼ times larger than a free vent opening. If your vent is covered by either 1/16 of an inch of insect screening or ¼ of an inch of mesh and a louver – make sure that the vent opening is twice as large. When it comes to the attic floor space, you can possibly get away with 1 square foot of free vent opening for about 300 square feet, providing you have vapour barrier installed. The vapour barrier has to be on the ‘room side’ of the insulation. Also, half of the vent space should be close to the gables tops or alternatively, along the ridges. An attic fan is a good idea if the natural venting is not enough to push hot air through the vents.

Chimney Flashing, Cap Flashing and Re-Roofing

Chimney Flashing

Chimney Flashing

When it comes to waterproofing the roof, the chimney is generally the most difficult part to deal with. It has to be made waterproof and kept waterproof. This is trickier than it sounds and this is mostly down to the weight of a chimney. Because of this, a masonry chimney will not only settle but also move independently of the property. With the joints between the chimney and the roof broken, water can easily get in and wreak havoc. Due to this, it is often the norm to install two layers of flashing; a base layer underneath and a cap or counter layer on top. Different roofing materials will decide what type of flashing you use. For an asphalt roof, use either roll roofing for chimney flashing or galvanised metal. For a wood or tile roof, use metal. You can use lead for a tile roof if you so prefer and this is a great choice as it quite easily moulds to the shape of the tiles.

Chimney Flashing 2

You do not have to make your own chimney flashing unless you want to as there are several ready-made options available. Most of these are made of metal and can be bought from roofing supply companies or even from sheet metal shops. The latter one should also be able to fabricate chimney flashings to whatever your specifications are.

Cap Flashing

If you are using metal chimney flashing, you can choose to install cap flashing over it. Cap flashing is also known as counter flashing to some. The cap flashing is often made of durable metal sheets such as copper and is to be installed in the mortar and bent down over the four chimney flashing cut-outs (one for each side of the chimney). Simply chisel the mortar by a horizontal joint to a depth of about 1 ½ inches, above the flashings. I would use instant mortar for cap flashing and this can be bought from most hardware stores and home improvement stores. Mix the mortar with a little bit of water, making sure to keep the paste thick and well mixed. Wet the area you chiselled and use a trowel to get the mortar into the chiselled area, before pushing the cap flashing into the mortar. Keep it in place for a few minutes until the mortar hardens. I would always wait a day before bending the flashing into place, just to make sure the mortar have set properly.

Cap Flashing

Flashing and Re-Roofing

If you are roofing over either asphalt or wood shingles, it is important to leave all of the old shingles in place if possible. It is the same thing with chimney flashings. If the existing chimney flashings are in good condition, then you can leave these in place as well. If they look in bad shape, you are better off making new ones and a good tip is to use the existing flashings as patterns for the new ones.

Welcome to My Blog

ABC Guttering Specialists blog is finally here and I have to tell you, I could not be more excited. I’ve had thirty years experience not just with gutter repair and installation but all kinds of home improvement and DIY. Although this blog will primarily focused on everything to do with gutters, there will be many articles and posts on other DIY subjects too. Here at ABC we try not to limit ourselves, as we feel we have a lot to offer our readers. Well, that’s enough from me, if you want to contact me directly you so via the contact page. Thanks for stopping by.

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