If you are like many homeowners, you have probably wondered why some houses have no gutters to provide protection against stormwater. You may have wished your own home had none because of the cleaning and maintenance issues.
Gutters are not required by law on a sloping roof. Many modern homes have none, even in instances where they would benefit by having them. There are alternatives that architects sometimes prefer such as concrete paving around the perimeter of your house.
In order to decide for yourself whether rainwater gutters are necessary for your home, it is best to first learn what the building regulations require.
The Building Regulations do not require roof gutters and downpipes if another suitable means of drainage has been provided to remove or disperse rainwater from the roof away from your home.
However, the Building Regulations do require that any stormwater that flows from your roof or any area that is in the immediate vicinity of your home must not cause damage to theinterior of the building, its structure or its structural elements. The regulations require steps to be taken to ensure that stormwater does not accumulate in a way that“unduly inconveniences” you as the occupant of your home.
Furthermore, the system used must:
not undercut the foundations by erosion or flooding
drain stormwater away from your home
not allow stormwater to accumulate against or close to the external walls
make provision for the drainage of any areas on the property where water pools
Spring has arrived at last! However, you should have inspected and maintained your gutters and roof by the end of winter. But, if you haven’t, you better do so now! They may be clogged with leaves, debris and dust.
Gather up your ladder, a plastic bag, your hosepipe and get busy. If you don’t, the timbers supporting your gutters may soon look like this!
If your roof does not have gutters installed, the roof structure probably has damage to the feet of the roof trusses. Check under the eaves of the roof for moisture damage before it’s too late.
Consider installing gutters before the roof timbers rot and fail. If they have rotted the repairs will be extensive and expensive!
Check your roof and gutters
Cut back trees and branches that deposit leaves and dead wood on the roof. Remove any debris from your roof. If you can’t do it yourself, hire a good roofing contractor to get the job done. This should be a priority. Debris prevent the free flow of rainwater off the roof! Roof tiling and roof sheeting are not 100% waterproof. These roofs are water-shedding systems rather than waterproofing systems.
Check your tiled roof while you’re up cleaning your gutters! Check for broken or cracked roof tiles, dislodged tiles and cracked mortar on the ridges and hips.
Foot traffic easily damages the tiles on your roof. If you walk on your tiled roof you will probably cause some damage. Also, consider the safety aspect! A fall from your roof can result in serious injuries and even death. Roofing specialists should repair any defective or broken tiling
Trees can cause major damage to your home, garden and boundary walls. This is especially true on the Witwatersrand where most areas and soils have some clay content. Without care and control, they may cost you a lot of money and no small amount of effort to fix.
Furthermore, shrubs should not be planted too close to the masonry walls either. The building regulations specify a minimum distance of 1,2 m for normal soils and 1,5 m if you have clayey soil.
Roots can also grow beneath your foundation and lift the house or they can leach water from the ground during dry spells and sink or settle the house unevenly.
They will cause the soil to dry out and, in the case of clay soils, to shrink.
Any subsequent watering or extended rain periods will cause the clay to swell. In this way, trees and large shrubs can cause movement on clay soils resulting in damage to your home and walls.
The amount of movement depends on the percentage of clay content, the depth and extent of the root system and the efficiency of the tree to extract moisture from the soil.
When underground sewer and water pipes develop small leaks, roots will quickly take advantage of those leaks. Before you realise it you have a blocked sewer line and pools of water and sewage in your yard.
What not to plant
All trees should be regarded as a potential source of damage. The following varieties are, however, particularly prone to causing damage:
Most homes develop some cracks. Old and new homes can develop cracks as well depending on climatic and physical factors.
However, it is worth getting to the bottom of what is causing the cracking. A crack is actually the visible symptom of a possible problem and not the problem in itself.
What causes cracks?
In new homes, settlement may cause minor cracks. Normal foundation settlement occurs when the underlying soil compacts as a result of construction on previously undisturbed soil, changes in soil conditions and moisture. Typically small, hairline-sized cracking may be the result of the minor settlement, expansion and contraction, or changes in a season or cycle.
Usually, these defects, though often unsightly, are not structurally significant.
Thermal movements between different materials
Different materials such as timber, bricks, steel, concrete etc. have different coefficients of linear expansion. In other words, the differing materials contract and expand differently. This causes stresses in structures where they are combined and may cause cracks to form. The best way to combat these defects in plasterwork is to provide a joint between the different materials.
In older homes, changes in climatic conditions can affect the structure. Houses move with the climate. Heat and moisture will make them expand, cold and dryness will make them contract slightly. This movement is normal and in most cases will not cause cracking. Unusually hot or cold spells can result in increased expansion or contraction of the structure which may cause cracks.
Maintain your home, especially the roof, on an annual basis. If you don’t do the small repairs they could end up as expensive repairs.
Your roof is the most important component of your home, protecting you, your belongings and the structure of the building. Damage to the roof can occur due to rain, wind and hail. You should regularly check the roof of your home for any leaks. Also inspect the ceiling, walls and the area around your home for any water spots, standing water or mould. Dampness on ceilings or walls can mean that there are leaks that you will have to attend to.
Check the chimney
Loose flashings, damaged masonry and loose bricks will allow rainwater in a house. Be sure to give the area around the chimney an inspection to ensure everything is fine. Refit loose flashing or replaced as necessary. Furthermore, chisel out the damaged mortar joints and rejoint, and also repair loose bricks.
Loose, dislodged or broken roof tiles or ridge caps
If you have the ladder long enough, inspect the roof for loose or crumbling mortar along the ridge cap. At the same time, check for cracked or damaged roof tiles while you’re up there. However, if you do discover problems and can’t deal with it yourself, call in a professional roofing contractor.Continue reading “Winter Home Maintenance”