Why are autumn leaves bad for your drains?

It’s that time of year again; when the schools begin reopening, the air begins to cool, and the leaves begin to shift from verdant green to a fiery collage of red and orange. Autumn is upon us!

Although these autumn leaves may be a welcome sight for some, for others they are more of a nuisance, and in some cases, they have the potential to cause serious damage.

So, what insidious danger do these leaves present?

While autumn leaves can be appealing to the eye, they’re not as appealing to the pipes, and present a problem to your drainage system. As they begin to fall, if they’re not blown off in the wind, they can begin to build up around your property and make a home in your guttering and drains, creating blockages. Particularly if you have any overhanging trees.

When leaves and other debris clog your guttering, it prevents it from doing its job – diverting water away from your property. It may not be the most exciting thing about your home however, guttering plays a critical role in maintaining the structural integrity of the home, and while it’s often designed to be out of sight, as a homeowner it should never be out of mind.

If you have a blockage in your guttering or drains you may begin to see overflowing water or slow drainage, and whilst this may not be an immediate threat, overtime it has the potential to lead to issues such as damp, flooding, and structural damage.

Moreover, if a blockage in your guttering becomes particularly large, the added weight of the debris and water build up can lead to damage to the guttering itself such as sagging or pulling away from the building.  Gutters and downpipes can carry many hundreds of litres of water during wet weather and although, as with all aspects of a property, the guttering will be subject to wear and tear, clean gutters are less prone to damage. Defective gutters can result in damp penetration internally which can also lead to further associated damage and costs. Therefore, drains and gullies should be kept clear and in good condition as part of general routine maintenance.

Mould, Mildew, and Pests, oh my!

Blockages can also give rise to mould and mildew which can slowly start to degrade your guttering. On top of that it can create issues with unsightly staining surrounding the area and, in serious cases, lead to wood rot to roof fascias or overhanging eaves.

If you don’t clean out a blockage it may start the decomposition process. Not only will this wet mulch then increase the amount of mould and mildew in your guttering, but it presents the perfect environment for growth.

Often seeds and spores will make their way into your guttering and drains through wind dispersal or through bird droppings, if these are then trapped by blockages it can lead to plant and vegetation growth. This plant growth can attract pests and even cause structural damage if the roots begin to creep their way through the mortar or any small cracks in the property.

If you’re in the process of purchasing a new house and have any concerns about the guttering or drainage system, you may want to consider commissioning a home survey.  A home survey will give you a breakdown of the property and highlight any potential issues.

Take a look at our home survey options here.

How can you stop the blockage?

The best course of action to battle any blockages is to regularly clean out your guttering and drains. Whilst you can rake autumn leaves to your hearts content, it’s inevitable that some will still find their way into your gutters.

It can be easy and simple to clean out your gutter system yourself with a hose to push out any collecting debris, making sure that you also clear out the down pipe and any straining system that may be incorporated into your guttering to prevent any material clogging up your system. However, if you are struggling to clean and maintain your gutters you may consider hiring a professional service to do so for you.

Another defensive measure you can take is installing drain guards. Drain guards act as a filter stopping any larger drain clogging debris while still allowing smaller dross through.

Looking for more information on the guttering and drainage? Take a look at our advice page on the topic here.

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