National Gutters Day Hits 13th Year – unlucky for some… but only if their property isn’t maintained!

Loyd Grossman shouts the message of good maintenance from the roof tops at St James’ Church Piccadilly. Photo Ralph Hodgson.

Friday 28 November 2014 is the thirteenth National Gutters Day!  Although it’s probably not the most glamorous date for your diary, it’s definitely worth reminding yourself that it’s time to spend just a few minutes checking the condition of your gutters and drains. Something as simple as removing clots of leaves and other debris could actually save you from having to spend hundreds of pounds at a later date to put right any damage caused by blockages.

Crucially, after the wind and heavy rainfall last winter those simple checks might be more vital then ever as the legacy of those conditions could be serious damage including blocked pipes and leaking water courses.

So, roll up your sleeves, pull on a pair of rubber gloves, dig that ladder out of the shed and get stuck in!

National Gutters Day was established by The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, Britain’s oldest heritage charity.  This annual event marks the end of the Society’s annual National Maintenance Week (21 – 28 November in 2014), an awareness campaign designed to encourage everyone who owns or looks after a building to take a few simple steps at the beginning of winter to ensure that their property is ready for anything that the season can throw at them, especially in these increasingly wet, windy and unpredictable days.

This year, SPAB’s 13th annual National Maintenance Week campaign is led by broadcaster and heritage supporter Loyd Grossman.  He says:  “As Chairman of the Churches Conservation Trust, I’m already very familiar with the maintenance challenges faced by significant, historic buildings which don’t conform to a standard pattern. Careful, planned and regular maintenance is vital to ensure that they have a future as well as a past. But that message is equally applicable to buildings of all types and all ages. Nearly 140 years ago SPAB’s founder William Morris told us to ‘stave off decay by daily care, to prop a perilous wall or mend a leaky roof’ and that’s still sound, practical advice. Good maintenance is simply good common sense. It’s economic sense too. Faulty gutters and blocked drains don't mend themselves - the longer you ignore a problem the more costly and difficult it becomes to put it right, and that’s true if the building you care for is a medieval church in a village or an apartment in a town or city."

Water damage is a particular concern.  The annual clearing of gutters and drains can be much cheaper and less inconvenient than having to cope with a serious outbreak of dry rot in timber roof trusses following years of neglect, or dealing with a flooded basement or ground floor because of a blocked drain.

The ever-practical Romans actually had a goddess of the drains – Cloacina.  These days, instead of seeking divine inspiration, simply visit SPAB’s dedicated website, which is packed with helpful information to help you give your house a top to toe (or gutter to drain) maintenance ‘MOT’ this winter.ENDS

Notes to Editors

SPAB’s Top Tips for Gutters and Drainage Systems

·         Every spring and autumn, clear any plants, leaves and silt from gutters, hopperheads, flat roofs and drainage channels

·         Look for blocked downpipes (best done during heavy rain to see water coming from any leaky joints – in dry weather look for stained brickwork)

·         Keep gullies at ground level clear and have them cleaned out if necessary

·         Remove vegetation from behind downpipes by cutting back or removing the plant altogether

·         Use a hand mirror to look behind rainwater pipes as splits and cracks in old cast iron and aluminium often occur there and are not easily noticed

·         Fit bird/leaf guards to the tops of soil pipes and rainwater outlets to prevent blockages.

·         Check that gutters junctions are watertight by watching them in rainy conditions

·         Have gutters refixed if they are sloping the wrong way or discharging water onto the wall

·         If sections are beyond repair, make sure that replacements are made of the same material as the originals (on older houses, this is sometimes lead, but more usually cast iron)

·         Regular painting of cast iron is essential to prevent rust

Always wear protective gloves when necessary and act safely and responsibly. If you work with a ladder or in a high place make sure someone is with you.

Details of advice and other events supporting SPAB’s National Maintenance Week can be viewed at

The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) was founded by William Morris 125 years ago to care for and preserve the UK’s architectural heritage.  Since its foundation, SPAB has been committed to maintenance matters, in line with William Morris’ exhortation to: “Stave off decay by daily care.”  Today it is a dynamic organisation, and a charitable company limited by guarantee - no. 111 3753  (SC 039244), taking building conservation into the future.  To find out more visit  /

Media contacts: Kate Griffin, SPAB press office 0207 456 0905 (Mon/Tues/Weds)

                            Alison McClary, SPAB press office 0207 456 0908 (Monday to Friday)