Water in its various forms (rain, sea spray, condensation and vapour) is a primary cause of damage and decay to buildings. An often-overlooked area are the rainwater fittings which play a vital role in taking runoff water efficiently from the roof to ground where it will typically discharge to storm drains or soakaways.
Well designed rainwater systems are intended to cope with normal rainfall and are not able to cope with torrential rain but this occasional overspill onto walls etc is acceptable. However, poorly maintained, misaligned or blocked rainwater fittings can allow frequent overspill which will soon lead to more serious problems such as damp ingress, failure of render finishes and decay. Over time the spillage of excess water onto the ground adjacent to a building can also undermine or weaken the structure.
In Cornwall the humid climate proves ideal for moss and lichen, in addition our roofs are often fertilised by Seagulls, particularly in coastal areas and gutters, downpipes and gullies should be regularly checked and kept clean so that they operate efficiently.
Due to their generally flexible nature plastic rainwater fittings are prone to distortion and typically require more frequent attention. In leafy areas near trees fitting gutter brushes can help extend maintenance periods and is also worth considering in hard to access areas.
The cost of repairs escalates very quickly once damage starts to occur and often when we find a missing or defective downpipe we also find high levels of dampness internally at ground and first floor level with a consequent risk to adjacent joinery such as floor joists, lintels etc. It follows that significant savings can be made over the life of a building by ensuring that routine inspection and maintenance is carried out on a regular basis.