How to Clean and Maintain Cast Iron Gutters

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Cast iron guttering is very popular, particularly for its endurance and traditional appearance. Older houses often have cast iron gutters, and will need painting every now and again as opposed to plastic or PVC gutters and downpipes.

If cast iron gutters are maintained and cleaned properly and regularly they can last a very long time, and here’s what you should do.

For cleaning out the gutters you’ll need a ladder, a good pair of gloves, a gutter trowel and a bucket to put the leaves and debris in. A pressure washer can also do the job for you instead of the ladder and trowel.

For painting the gutters you’ll need the necessary tools to take down your gutters (you could leave them on the walls and use ladders or scaffolding, though that might make it trickier to reach the whole surface of the pipe), gloves, a wire brush, a suitable paintbrush and paints recommended by your manufacturer.

Cleaning out the gutters should be an annual task. The best time to do it is probably late autumn/early winter when most of the leaves have fallen from trees. Your gutters will then be clean and clear in preparation for the wettest season of the year.

If you are using a ladder you must remember to lean it up against the wall of your building and not against the gutters themselves. This is to prevent the ladder from slipping, but also to prevent any scratching on the guttering caused by the ladder. Ensure that the ladder is secured and if possible try to have someone in the vicinity who can assist you if needed.

Once you’re up on the ladder you should have with you your bucket, trowel and gloves. It’s up to you whether you prefer removing the leaves and debris with your gloved hands or your gutter trowel. The advantage of using the gutter trowel is that your gloves won’t become as wet as they might if you use your hands, and there is less chance of hurting yourself in case anything sharp has landed in your gutters for some reason. It is sometimes a lot quicker as well. Place the rubbish in the bucket and once it’s filled up you can safely take it back down to the ground and dispose of it in your green bin and start again until the gutters are clear. It’s worth checking for holes and rust whilst you’re at it as well.

If you are painting your guttering, which should be done roughly every 10 years (check with your manufacturer), you will need to go over the pipes with a wire brush to get rid of any rust or loose paint.

Remember to take the gutters down before you start so you can quality check the whole pipes before you begin painting. It might also be a good idea to wash the gutters with a pressure washer to get rid of any grease and dirt that will be hard to remove by hand. The preparation work does take a while to do, but it is absolutely worth it, and will make your cast iron gutters last for decades.

Start painting as per your manufacturer’s instructions – this usually consists of one or two layers of undercoat and one or two layers or top coat, but it’s best to follow individual advice. Make sure the layers are completely dry between coats for the best possible protection. Once you have refitted the gutters you can apply some oil putty in the joints as this can help fix and prevent leaks.