Will your home insurance policy cover you for water damage caused by blocked guttering?
It’s a condition of any home insurance policy that you keep on top of your home maintenance and make sure everything is in good working order to prevent damage to your home.
This includes checking that your gutters and downpipes are functioning properly, are clear and free from blockages, and aren't rusted or broken.
Policies cover damage to your home due to unforeseen events such as storms or floods but not for events that could have been prevented if you’d kept your home well maintained and repaired.
Blocked, overflowing guttering can cause water damage, and even structural damage to your home.
Your insurer won’t cover this damage if they feel it was caused by a lack of maintenance on your part.
So if your guttering has been neglected, damaged by wear and tear, or your gutters have become blocked and can’t do their job properly, an insurer will reject your claim for any water damage.
Gutters collect rainwater and channel it away from your home into the drainage system. They’re vital to the overall weatherproofing of your home.
Fallen leaves, twigs, moss growing on the roof and other debris can blow into guttering and get lodged there. Over time, as this debris breaks down, moss and weeds can grow in the gutters too.
All of this can block the flow of water and plug downpipes, leading to standing water or overflowing gutters. This water can damage your home in all sorts of ways that can be expensive to put right.
Repeated overflows of rainwater from your gutters onto exterior walls can cause damp. It can penetrate interior walls, too, causing damp and mould inside your home. An accumulation of excess groundwater could even cause structural issues to your home’s foundations.
Standing water in guttering can leak into the roof, rot timber work and cause potential structural problems there, too.
Uncleared debris can also attract pests like insects and rodents to gutters.
Plus, extra weight that collects in your gutters can cause them to sag and break, meaning they’ll need repair work or replacing.
It’s recommended you clean your guttering at least twice a year. Ideally, this should be:
It’s also wise to check guttering for debris or bracket damage after particularly stormy weather or snowfall.
If you live close to lots of trees, your gutters will be more prone to collecting debris, so check and clean them more regularly, especially in windy weather.
You could look at installing good quality gutter guards. They’re designed to let water filter into your guttering but to stop larger debris and litter like leaves from passing through.
There are several ways you can check whether your gutters need some attention, including:
If you feel confident enough and have a good strong extension ladder, you could try cleaning your gutters yourself. But if you’re not happy working at heights then it’s best to call in a professional gutter-cleaning company.
If you do decide to do-it-yourself, ensure your ladder is on an even surface and that you have someone at the bottom holding it steady. Use a ladder stay for extra safety.
You’ll need to start off by removing the debris from the gutter. Take up a bucket and use a trowel or wear heavy-duty waterproof gloves and do it by hand.
Then you need to wash out the guttering using a hose, a bucket and water or a specialist gutter cleaning tool (these are also useful to use from the ground.)
If you’re not confident working at heights, your home has more than two storeys or your guttering hasn’t been cleaned for a long time, you’re better off using a professional cleaning company.
Most companies will provide you with written, dated proof of when the job was done, and may even take photographic evidence of your cleared gutters, in case you need to make an insurance claim in the future.