This page is designed to show you what problems occur with heritage gutters. You will notice (in the pictures) that all cast iron gutters rot from the back first, usually leaving the front (where the paint brush can reach) still looking in good condition. Another common weakness is the point at which the gutters are bolted together, (where the sprocket sits in the socket). If the nut & bolt is tightened too much this can cause the gutter to crack from the hole to the end, this is due to expansion and contraction. A similar problem can be caused by fitting gutters with no expansion gaps, this can cause the same problem. This cracking is also a problem on aluminium gutters, as well as iron. The crack is usually invisible at first, but can grow with time and once water gets into it, you can wave good bye to your expensive gutters, even if they are new. Unfortunately once the crack has formed, the gutter/pipe is ruined and cannot be repaired, (in situ) despite what you may be told. It is possible to repair some gutters and pipes by the use of welding, but this involves having the gutter/pipe taken to the foundry. Needless to say this can be expensive and only really should be considered on the larger sand cast items and not cheaper die cast items, which are much more cost effective to just replace.

I will also be showing pictures of the repair methods some people use (or should I say bodge methods). You will notice that, in the 3rd, 4th and 5th pictures the cast gutter have been 'repaired' by someone placing plastic gutters inside them, this is an excellent way of ensuring that water is held between the two gutters, thus helping the cast gutters to rot even quicker than normal. Probably the most common repair method is to cover cracks and failed joints with some form of flashing tape. If this is done correctly, ie. cleaning and drying the area before sticking the tape and making sure that the faulty area is totally covered, the repair should be successful..........for a while.

Pipes also suffer in a similar way (rotting at the back first), although the most common problem with pipes is caused by ice cracking the collars from the inside. One thing to remember about cast iron pipes and gutters is,  that they hurt when they fall on you, they are very heavy, so don't take chances with quick fix solutions.

At this point I would like to mention that large sand cast,  iron gutters should last about 80- 100 years  (1/2 round half that), but if you live in a hundred year old house that still has it's original gutters, then you need to be expecting a replacement bill, not a repairing bill.

If your gutters are in a reasonable condition and can be re-sealed, the correct method is to remove the gutters, clean and dry them thoroughly and remove any loose rust before painting and re-sealing them. The only way that this can be done effectively is to physically remove them from the building . Unfortunately with the new health and safety regulations, regarding working at heights and considering the weight of cast iron gutters this can only be safely and adequately done with the use of scaffolding or access platforms. This is expensive, so repairing really is not a cost effective option unless, of course other works, involving scaffolding, is being carried out at the same time, and the scaffold is there to begin with.

Cast gutters can last a lifetime if looked after, and as such should be seen as an investment in the preservation of your property.

This damage was probably caused by water trapped in the collar freezing, it then expanded thus cracking the collar. Probably the most common cause of collars cracking. 

The picture below is an example of the damage rust can do to masonary. This is caused by the iron nail rusting which causes the nail to expand, which, in turn can split the stone.

This particular crack was caused by bad workmanship. Upon removing the pipe I discovered that an 8mm hole had been drilled into the masonary and the nail had been hammered tightly into the hole, when the nail rusted it expanded and the stone cracked. The hole should have been between 25-40mm, a wooden plug should have then used, when the nail rusted the wood plug would have compressed thus toghtening the nail and cushioning the stone against pressure caused by expansion.

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