Replacing glass in metal frames & windows

Metal frames
To fit a new pane of glass into a metal frame adopt basically the same method as for a wood one except you must use metal casement putty, since linseed oil putty is not suitable for metal. The glass is held in place by special glazing clips rather than sprigs – one arm of the clip slots into a hole in the rebate, while the other arm of the clip clamps onto the face of the glass. Hack away the old putty and note the positions of the glazing clips so you will know where to refit them. Remove the clips from the frame (if you do this carefully, you will be able to use them again). Brush the rebates clean, apply a coat of metal primer and leave to dry for a few hours. Spread a layer of putty in the rebates and fit the new pane of glass into the frame on the putty. Replace the clips in their original positions and finish off as for a wood frame.

When handling broken glass, wear protective spectacles and a pair of old, preferably leather, gloves. Keep children and pets well away until you have finished the job and every piece of glass has been cleared up. Wrap the glass in newspaper and put it straight into the dustbin to avoid accidents.

Replacing glass in windows

glazing replacing
If you break a window and cannot get replacement glass immediately, as a temporary measure fix a sheet of polythene to the inside of the window. With a wood frame either fix the polythene with adhesive tape or, for a stronger fixing, secure the top of the polythene to the window with drawing pins, nail a batten along the top and then secure each side and bottom edge with battens. Stretch the polythene to smooth out wrinkles as you work. Use heavy duty polythene secured with strong adhesive tape for a metal frame.

Wood frames
Clear up the glass left on the ground and remove the fragments in the frame. These should pull away easily; you may have to remove the holding material. Take out the glass from the top of the frame, then work down the sides and along the bottom edge. To remove stubborn pieces run a glass-cutter round the perimeter of the glass and close to the rebates. Tap out the pieces with the handle of a light hammer, holding each piece until it is free. If the holding material is putty chop away with a hacking knife or old chisel. This will reveal a series of small headless nails (sprigs) which do the real job of holding the glass. Carefully remove the sprigs with pincers. If they are still straight, you can re-use them; if not, buy new ones 16mm long. Sometimes the glass will have been secured by wood beading fixed with panel pins. Prise away the beading and remove the pins. Take care when removing since the beading will have mitred ends to form neat corner joints and if you damage these you will have to buy more beading and shape the mitres yourself.
Brush out all the dust from the rebates and rub the timber smooth with medium coarse glasspaper. Apply a coat of wood primer and leave to dry.

Measuring up
Accurate measuring for the new sheet of glass is vital. Measure the full width of the opening between the side rebates at the top, centre and bottom of the frame. These should be the same, but if there is a slight difference work on the smallest measurement. Next measure between the other two rebates, top to bottom, again if necessary noting the smallest measurements. Deduct 3mm from these dimensions (this is to allow for the glass expanding and contracting in the frame). These are the dimensions to use when ordering your glass. If your window frame is badly out of square or an awkward shape, such as curved, make a template (pattern) of the frame from card or stiff paper so the glass can be cut to the exact size. For normal domestic use you will need 3mm sheet glass. Take some old newspapers to wrap round the glass or wear gloves to protect your hands from the edges when carrying it.

Fitting the glass
Hold the new glass up to the frame to check it is the right size. Knead some linseed oil putty into a ball in your hands to make it soft and pliable and if necessary add a little linseed oil to make the putty more workable. (Putty has an irritating habit of clinging to dry surfaces when you do not want it to, so keep both hands and the putty knife wet.) Run a continuous layer of putty about 3mm thick round the rebates and press well in with your thumb. Carefully lift the glass into position, allowing for the 3mm expansion gap, and press it into the layer of putty pushing only on the edge of the glass, never in the middle. Refit the sprigs, spacing them at intervals of about 150mm around the glass. They must be flat against the glass to hold it securely, so tap them in carefully. The flat edge of a wide chisel could be used for this. Run another layer of putty around the front of the glass, pressing it in with your thumb. With a putty knife smooth out the layer, shaping it to match the angle on your other windows, and form mitres at the corners . Use the edge of the knife to trim off surplus putty from the glass.

Free standing shelving

This type of unit provides a storage system which does not need to be fixed to the wall and can be used, if you wish, as a room divider. There is a variety of makes available and you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions for assembly. One type, which is made of plastic-coated steel, is strong and durable and would be useful in a kitchen or workshop. It has angled uprights from 914 to 2440mm high and shelves of 864 x 229 610mm. The shelves are adjustable to 50mm intervals, but changing their position is not as easy as with other systems because the shelves are bolted in place. To assemble the unit, lay two of the angled uprights flat on the ground and loosely bolt the shelves vertically in the required positions. Place the remaining two uprights along the front of the shelves and bolt them loosely in place. Then stand the unit upright, check it is square and tighten all the nuts and bolts.

Custom made storage
Custom made storage

Stud supports
An inexpensive method of providing support for shelves in a free-standing adjustable unit is to use studs screwed into bushes. To take the shelf bush, drill a 10mm diameter hole in the upright to a depth of 10mm. Press a bush into the hole and insert the shelf stud; the stud clips into the bush for fast holding. Fit two parallel rows of bushes on the uprights at each side and place studs into the required bushes.

Adjustable shelving systems

You have probably found however much storage space you have you always fill it. One way to keep up with growing plants, varying book heights, additional equipment and children”s changing interests is to install adjustable shelving: this is easy to put up and can just as easily be taken down if you move house. The shelves may be fitted onto brackets which slot into strips or uprights screwed to the wall, so you can move them about and fit additional or wider shelves; alternatively there are free-standing units with adjustable shelves. Before buying a shelving system decide where you want to put it” what items you need to store and how much flexibility you want; for example. some systems have a variety of special-purpose brackets so you can use a shelf as a desk or work top. Check the length of the brackets available, since some manufacturers do not make brackets for very wide shelves. Some systems have matching shelves you can buy or you can use shelves of your choice.

Wall shelving
Adjustable shelving systems are available in a variety of materials and finishes so you should be able to find one which will fit in with its surroundings. Hardened aluminium is commonly used for uprights and brackets and often for shelves as well: systems manufactured from this material are available in a silver satin finish or a matt anodized finish in gold,silver or black. Units are also made in painted steel. One system, which can be used for commercial or domestic purposes has matching steel shelves but can also be used with wood or glass shelves. For a living room you may want a wood unit and you can buy teak uprights and brackets with matching teak finished shelves.

There are two main types of metal upright: those with slots into which the brackets are fitted and those with a continuous channel into which the shelves are slid and clicked or locked into place at the required position. Brackets of the slotted type can be moved at 25mm intervals: the sliding type is easier to adjust, but more care is needed in lining up the brackets to ensure the shelves are straight. It is easier to fix the sliding type uprights to the wall since there are no slots to be lined up: with the slotted type you need to line up the slots exactly or the shelves will not be level. Wood uprights have threaded holes into which the brackets are screwed. Some shelving systems have uprights which will hold hardboard panels, hessian or cork-covered boards or mirrors. For walls which are uneven,there are uprights which hold 3mm hardboard panels at a slight distance from the wall. Uprights are available in two or more lengths.

Wiring and lighting
One system has built-in facilities for an adjustable spotlight, which can be fitted at any height on the upright. Cables for lights of hi- fi equipment can be run inside the uprights and hidden with a cover strip. A switch is available which can be fitted on an upright connection to a lamp or other appliance.

Wood brackets have rubber grip pads to hold the shelving, while the other type are screw-fixed or have a hooked edge which fits into a groove in the shell or a lipped end which holds the edge of the shelf. Some systems have special brackets to hold glass shelves.

Fixing wall shelving
When fixing the uprights make sure they are vertical and parallel to each other and with slotted supports ensure the slots are correctly lined up; check with a straight-edge and a spirit level. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for spacing between sup ports, which will be dictated by the load the shelves will carry, and check whether you need to buy .: screws; some manufacturers supply screws while others just specify the size of screw required. Draw a pencil line where the top fixing hole of each upright is to be placed, using a straight-edge and a spirit level to make sure it is horizontal. Make a cross on the line where the top screw of each support is to be placed, making sure the supports are the required distance apart. At each marked point drill a hole of the correct diameter for the wall fixings you are using and insert the fixings.

Fix each support at the top with a screw, leaving the screw slightly slack at this stage. Use a plumb line to check the first upright is vertical and mark the positions of the remaining screws. Swivel the support aside while you drill and plug the fixing holes; fix the bottom screw, followed by the intermediate ones, and finally tighten the top screw. Fix the remaining uprights in the same way, checking they are parallel to each other by using a batten cut to the exact distance between the supports. Place the brackets in position according to the manufacturer’s instructions, checking they are level by using a straight-edge and a spirit level. Place the shelves in position and screw them in place or cut grooves as required.

Fixing shelves

mdf shelves
The methods of fixing the different types of support vary slightly, but the general principles are the same. Remember to check, when deciding where to place the shelves, that you will not be drilling into electric cables or water pipes. Cables to socket outlets normally run up from the floor, while those for light switches normally run down from the ceiling; but to be safe, don’t drill holes in the wall either vertically above or below these fittings. Plan the position of the shelves, taking into account the height of objects to be stored and allowing a little extra space above. Also check you will be able to reach the top shelf easily. Lightly mark with a pencil the position of each shelf on the wall. When fixing the shelves in position, use these marks only as a preliminary guide; always check with a spirit level to ensure they are truly horizontal.

Using battens
This traditional system is probably the simplest of all. A timber batten is screwed to each side wall of a recess and the shelf is laid across. For extra support across a long span, fix a batten to the back wall too. To make the battens you can use softwood or off cuts of the shelf material, such as chipboard. For a lightweight shelf intended to display a few ornaments, you could use 25 x 12mm battens. For large books or heavy kitchen utensils, use 50 x 25mm battens. For medium loads, use timber between these two sizes. Screws Use 50mm No 6 screws for a lightweight job, 63mm No 8 screws for medium weight shelves and 75mm No 10 for a sturdy assembly.

Fixing method
Cut out both side wall support battens a little shorter than the width of the shelf. Drill a countersunk clearance hole 25-50mm from each end of the batten, depending on the length of the batten and mitre or bevel the front edges of the battens so they will be less noticeable. If using a back batten, cut it to the width of the recess minus the thickness of one of the side battens; cut the thickness of the back batten off the straight end of the other side batten. Drill holes at not more than 300mm intervals. Position the first side wall batten at the required height. Rest a spirit level on top to check the batten is horizontal and mark with a bradawl or nail the positions of the holes onto the wall. Remove the batten and drill the holes in the wall to the required depth. Insert wallplugs or cavity wall fixings, depending on the type of wall involved. Place the batten in position again and partly drive in the fixing screws. Check the horizontal again with the spirit level before finally driving the screws home. If you are using a back batten, line it up so its top edge is level with the top of the side wall batten already fixed. Place the spirit level on top to check the batten is horizontal. Get someone to hold it in place while you mark the screw positions on the wall as before. Drill the holes, insert plugs (or other wall fixings) and drive in the screws, checking again the batten is horizontal. If a back batten is not being fixed, use a straightedge and pencil a line across the back wall level with the top edge of the side batten; use a spirit level to check the straight-edge is horizontal.

Line up the second side wall batten with the pencil mark, checking the horizontal with the spirit level. Fix the second side wall batten in the same way as the first, making sure its top edge is aligned with the back batten or pencil line. Position a squarely cut scrap piece of shelving on the battens in both corners of the recess to check the side walls are square. If there is a gap between the end of the shelving and the side walls, you will have to cut the shelf to fit. The back of the shelf may also need shaping and this must be done first. Pin a length of card or stiff paper onto the back wall batten so it fits exactly into each corner. Using a small block of wood and a pencil trace the outline of the back wall onto the template. Cut along this line carefully, tape the template onto your piece of shelving and transfer the outline. Then use two smaller pieces of card and mark on them the outline of each side wall in turn, following the same procedure.

Measure from each corner diagonally across to the proposed front edge of the shelf on the opposite side wall, making a small allowance for the trimmed back edge of the shelf before determining the width of the shelf. Position each side wall template carefully in turn on your piece of shelving. Starting with the left hand side wall, place the back left-hand corner of the template to coincide with the left-hand end of the already marked shelf. The angle of the template will be determined when the front left-hand corner of the template coincides with the length of the diagonal from the opposite corner. Tape the template onto the shelf in this position and transfer the side wall outline onto the shelf. Working from the opposite end, repeat this procedure for the right-hand side wall.
This will give you the correct outline for yow shelf, which can then be cut to shape. Place the shelf on the battens; it can be loose laid, screwed or glued and pinned in position.

Using angled metal strips
These serve the same purpose as battens, supporting the shelves against the side walls of an alcove. Screw holes are often provided, so you just need to mark the position of the screws on the wall with a pencil. Place a spirit level on the horizontal part of the strip to check the strip is level. Screw in place as for battens, using a screw size to match the pre-drilled holes and ensuring at least 38mm of the screw will be in the wall. If you wish, you can make a recess in the edge of the shelf so the top of the metal strip will be invisible when the shelf is in position. Place a bracket on the shelf side edge and draw round it with a pencil to mark the cutting lines. Chisel out to the required depth with a paring chisel, grooving plane or electric router. Stop the recess just before the front edge of the shelf, so the bracket will be concealed. Recess the other end of the shelf in the same way, fit the angled strips to the side walls of the alcove and slide the shelf on to them.

Using L-shaped metal angle brackets
These can be bought in various sizes; the arm of the bracket should extend almost to the front edge of the shelf to give full support. Some brackets have one arm longer than the other, in which case you must fix the longer arms to the wall. To fix the brackets, place a straight-edge in the required position, check with a spirit level and draw a line along the lower edge where you want the shelf to be. Measure and mark off the intervals at which you want to place the brackets, putting the end ones a short distance in from the ends of the shelf. Fix the two end brackets in place first. Hold the first bracket in place on the wall, checking the horizontal and vertical with a spirit level. and mark the screw positions with a pencil. Screw in place as for battens, using screws to match the pre-drilled holes. Before fixing the second bracket, hold it in position and check it is level with the first by placing a straight-edge on top of the two brackets and putting a spirit level on it. Do the same with intermediate brackets. When all the brackets are in place, lay the shelf in position and mark the screw positions through the holes in the brackets onto the underside of the shelf. Drill pilot holes to take the screws, replace the shelf on the brackets and screw it in place.

Using timber angle brackets
Strong home-made brackets are ideal for a garage or workshop where strength is more important than appearance. The brackets are made by fixing two pieces of wood at right-angles and inserting a brace between them to form a triangle. Use 25 x 12mm softwood for medium loads and 50 x 25mm for heavier loads. Cut one length a little shorter than the width of the shelf and another length about 50mm longer than the first; this will be fixed vertically to the wall. Fit the lengths together at right-angles using a halving joint and glue; screw through the joint. Position another length of wood across the right angled piece so it forms a triangle, placing it about 50mm from the end of the horizontal. Mark countersunk clearance holes where the third piece of wood meets the inside edges of the other two sides of the triangle; mark the two sides and join up these marks across the top and bottom to give you your cutting lines. Cut the brace timber to the exact length, checking the brace fits exactly when you place it inside the right-angle. Drill three countersunk clearance holes in the vertical batten and two in the horizontal batten; the size of the holes should correspond to the recommended screw sizes. Screw the bracket to the wall and fit the shelf in place, drilling pilot holes for the shelf fixing screws. Finally glue and screw the angled piece in position with countersunk screws.

Putting up shelves

Shelves can solve many storage problems in any room in the house and enable you to make use of odd corners and unused space in cupboards and alcoves. Very few tools are needed and the materials are widely available. The methods described here are for permanently fixed shelves. using battens. brackets or angled metal strips.

Shelf loads
The load a shelf can safely carry depends on the thickness of the shelf material, the strength of the supports and the distance between them. If you overload a shelf, it will begin to sag and may eventually loosen the supports. When planning your shelving, take into account the size and weight of the items you want to store and overestimate your needs to allow for future acquisitions. The chart below gives a guide to the maximum span for different shelf materials for medium to heavy loads. If you want to exceed the span given. use intermediate supports. Extra support can be given in a recess by fixing a batten to the back wall.

Recommended maximum distance between supports

 Material  Thickness Maximum span
 Blockboard  12mm  450mm
 Chipboard  12mm  400mm
 18mm  600mm
 25mm  750mm
 Plywood  18mm  800mm
 25mm  1000mm
 Timber  16mm  500mm
 22mm  900mm
 28mm  1050mm


Shelf material
Natural timber (hardwood or softwood) makes attractive shelves, but you may find the cost prohibitive if you want several shelves. Man-made boards in chipboard, blockboard and plywood are available in a wide range of standard shelf sizes, some of which are wider than the wood normally stocked by timber yards. Chipboard is popular for shelving since it is light in weight and is available veneered in a wood grain finish or melamine-faced: this is much stronger than unfaced chipboard, which tends to sag under heavy weights.

Shelf supports
Your choice of shelf supports may depend on where you wish to put the shelves. Timber battens and angled metal strips can be used only in recesses since they are fixed to side walls. Metal and timber angle brackets can be used in a recess or on an open wall.

Hanging an internal door

The way a door opens can play an important part in a successful room layout and often builders fail to pay enough attention to this fact when the doors are originally positioned. You may, for example, decide you want a door to open out of a room rather than into it – or that it is more convenient to have the door opening from left to right and not the other way round. There are also occasions when you may have to adjust the position of the door frame, particularly if you are insulating the walls of a room with boards or panels fixed to battens. Rehanging a door or repositioning it is not a difficult job – and one you can do yourself.
carpenter hanging door

Repositioning doors
If you wish to reposition a door when you are lining your walls with board, the door must be removed and the frame extended into the room before you start lining the walls around the door. But measure carefully the total thickness of the lining so you know how far to extend the frame and where to reposition the door.

Removing the door
Open the door to its full extent and support it by pushing wedges underneath. Release it from the frame by removing the screws in the door frame hinges. These screws may be difficult to loosen if they have been in place for some time, particularly if there is a build-up of old paint over the screw heads. Clean the paint from the slots with a sharp. pointed instrument or an old, small square-ended screwdriver. Use the correct size screwdriver to get the maximum grip on the screw or use an impact screwdriver. To release a stubborn screw, it often helps to tighten the screw slightly before trying to unscrew it. If this fails to move the screw. as a last resort put the edge of the screwdriver blade against the lower half of the slot head and tap it gently in an anticlockwise direction. This will not do either the screw or the screwdriver any good, but it should bring results. Having taken out the screws and removed the hinges from the frame, unscrew the striking plate. Cut pieces of softwood or hardboard to fit exactly into the recesses in the frame and glue and pin them into position. Next lift away the frame moulding with a broad chisel and mallet. If you do this carefully, the small nails which hold the moulding in place will stay in position and you will be able to use them again. when you come to fix the moulding back in position. Try not to damage the moulding or it will have to be replaced.

Extending the frame
The door frame can be extended to the required distance by nailing or screwing the same thickness timber to the sides and top of the existing door frame. Measure and cut these new pieces carefully so the extended frame will be flush with the new wall surface. Always extend the frame before relining the wall or you could damage the frame moulding when trying to remove it. Having extended your door frame, fix the wall lining before continuing work on the door, checking again that the new wall and frame surfaces are flush. You can now nail back the moulding on the frame. wedges The door will have to be brought forward to line up with the frame, which means cutting new recesses for the hinges and striking plate, depending on how you want the door to hang. When you have decided on the new position for the door, mark it on the frame. Remove the door closure bead with a broad chisel and mallet, starting at the bottom of one of the side pieces. Remember to lift it away carefully to avoid damage to the bead and so you can use the existing nails again, then refix it against the new position of the external face of the door.

Rehanging a door
If you want to change the way the door opens into the room, first label the two faces of the door A and B. A will be the face of the existing door on the room side and B the external face.

Changing sides
If you are moving the hinges so the door still opens into the room but from the opposite side of the frame, you must patch the old hinge recesses on the door. If your door has a natural finish which you want to keep, you will have to match up the wood carefully. If you are going to paint over the door, any softwood will do. Cut the filling pieces slightly larger than the recesses and glue and pin them firmly into place, driving the pin heads below the surface with a nail punch. Fill the punch holes with cellulose filler or matching plastic wood, depending on whether you are painting the door or leaving a natural finish. For a really flush surface, plane down the filled edge and face A of the door and rub smooth with medium glasspaper. With a try square and pencil continue the top and bottom lines of the old hinge positions across the edge of the door and mark out the new hinge positions from the B side of the door, then cut out the recesses with a sharp chisel and mallet. Unscrew the striking plate from the door frame; this must be placed on the opposite side later. Fill the plate recess in the frame with softwood or hardboard in the same way as before if the frame is to be painted; match the wood carefully if you want to keep a natural finish. Complete the patching up by filling the hinge recesses on the other side of the frame.

Then screw the hinges into the new recesses in the edge of the door. Turn the door round so the side B faces into the room. Push it tightly into the frame, using the wedges to raise the door to its original clearance height above the ground. Mark the top and bottom positions of the new hinges onto the door frame and then take away the door from the frame. Cut out these recesses and screw in the unattached leaves. You will now have to reverse the spring-loaded door catch, since this will be facing the wrong way to engage the striking plate. (If the door has a ball catch, there is no need to transpose its position.) Remove the door handles and cover plates from either side, pull out the connecting rod and remove the catch assembly fixing screws. Using a screwdriver ease out the catch assembly housing, replace it upside down and screw back all the fittings. To find the correct position for the striking plate, dab paint on the catch and push the door closed. The paint mark left on the door frame will indicate the area for the striking plate. Position the plate to fit correctly over this mark and trace the outline of the plate on the frame. Chisel out the recess to the required depth and screw the striking plate into position.

Changing direction
After removing the door, lift the closure bead away from the frame and patch the existing hinge recesses, cutting new ones on the same edge of the door but flush to the B face, as described before. Patch up the hinge and striking plate recesses on the frame in the same way. Reverse the catch assembly housing as before, cut out new recesses for the hinges on the outer side of the frame and also a new striking plate cavity. Tack back the door closure bead close to the A face of the door on the room side. If the door closure bead is formed as a solid recess, as it is in some older properties, you will have to cut about 13mm from each side of the door with a panel saw and tack on a new closure bead.

Changing sides and direction
Remove the door closure bead, door and striking plate, leaving the hinges on the door and patch up the recesses on the frame. Reverse the door so face A is on the outside, mark and cut out new hinge and striking plate recesses on the door frame and screw the striking plate into its new position. Fix the door in place and tack the closure bead down close to face B of the door, now on the room side.

Whenever you reposition and hang a door, to fix the hinges always insert the centre screw only into each hinge and check the door opens and closes properly before inserting the remaining screws. This saves a lot of time and trouble drilling unnecessary holes in the door frame. If the screws do not tighten, plug the holes and insert the screws again.

Replacing a section of guttering

The treatments already described will make the gutters watertight for another year, but if metal guttering is severely rusted you will have to replace the affected section, or even the whole system. If this is necessary, choose a plastic system as it will be cheaper and easier to handle than metal. When buying a replacement section of guttering always saw off a piece of the old system and take it with you to ensure you get the right shape and size. Metal gutters are heavy so get someone to help you fit the new section.

Uncoupling old joints is often easier said than done since the bolts holding the system together are likely to be locked solid by years of rust. Don’t waste too much time trying to force a stubborn bolt but apply a little penetrating oil and try again the following day. If the bolt still will not move, saw stop end outlet through it with a hacksaw. Prise the sections apart and using an old chisel scrape off the sealing material in the joint.

Clean up and treat any rust spots on the adjoining sections. The new section of guttering may have ready drilled holes at each end to take the bolts. If not, support the gutter on a thick piece of wood laid on a flat surface and drill the holes where required. Unless you buy the gutter ready-painted apply a rust-resistant primer inside and out before painting. Use nails to line up the fixing holes in the old and new lengths, spread metal putty into the joint and press the new section into place, wiping off any excess putty with a cloth. Once the new length is firmly seated, insert and tighten the bolts.

Realigning sagging & repairing leaking gutters

Gutters are normally fixed on a slight slope, from 5-25mm in 3m, to ensure a good flow of water to the downpipe. If pools of water collect in the gutter then it is sagging and needs to be realigned by replacing the fixing screws and refitting the brackets. Fix a string line along the top of the gutter to mark the required slope. Drive a couple of strong nails into the fascia about 25mm below the gutter for support while it is being refitted. Take out the old fixing screws (if these are in the edges of the rafters you may have to remove a tile from the roof to gain access to them). Now release the brackets so the gutter rests on the support nails; tap wall plugs into the old screw holes and refix the brackets using new screws. Pack the gutter up to the required height with bits of timber placed between it and the support nails. Finally remove nails and string line.

Rust and cracks
Inspect metal systems for any signs of rust and clean back with a wire brush or, if you have an extension lead, with an electric drill fitted with a wire cup brush – this saves a lot of hard work. Now treat the cleaned areas with a rust killer. Fill hairline cracks with two coats of rust resistant primer. Fill definite cracks or holes with an aluminium bridge fixed in place with non-hardening mastic. Rub down with fine glasspaper. Corrosion is always worst at the back edge of the gutter and to repair this you will have to dismantle the system and treat each section separately.

Leaking joints
Seal leaking joints in metal gutters with an epoxy repair material and rub down. If a leak develops at the joints of a plastic system, release the affected section by squeezing it at one end and lifting it clear of the adjoining length. If the gasket in the joint is sound, simply replace the section making sure the spigot end butts tightly against the socket of the adjoining piece. If the gasket is worn, scrape away all the old material and insert a replacement gasket or apply three good strips of mastic sealer in its place. Then press the two sections together again.

Repairing gutters

Defective rainwater systems cause all sorts of damp problems in the house structure. Water constantly pouring down an outside wall will eventually penetrate inside, ruining the decoration and causing mould growth. So it is important to keep your guttering in good repair. If you are prompted now to check your guttering for the first time, you may have a lair amount of work on hand to get it into shape. But once the repair work has been done, maintenance is a simple yearly task. If you need an extra incentive to start immediately, remember if you allow things to deteriorate you may have to call in a professional roofer to repair the guttering or even to replace the complete system and this would prove expensive. The best time to check the gutters is in the late autumn, once all the leaves have fallen. If you have already noticed leaks or damp patches, make the job a priority. Working at height is not to everyone’s liking. Use a secure ladder or make the job easier with a scaffolding system (available from hire shops). When working on metal gutters, wear an old pair of gloves to guard against cuts from sharp edges.

gutters plastic

Types of gutter
In the past cast iron was the most common material for guttering, but plastic is now widely used. Today you cannot easily obtain a complete cast iron system, although you can buy replacement parts. Cast iron guttering comes in three shapes: half-round, square and ogee (a cross between half-round and square section). Halfround and square types rest in brackets fixed to the fascia board, rafters or brickwork. Ogee section can either be screwed direct to the fascia or be supported on brackets. The joints are sealed together with red lead. putty or other suitable jointing mastic and secured with bolts. Plastic rainwater systems have a distinct advantage over cast iron ones since plastic is light, durable and needs little or no decoration. Plastic guttering is made in half-round, ogee and square sections which fit into special brackets. The lengths are joined together with clips housing rubber seals or gaskets. to make them waterproof; a jointing cement is sometimes used instead of or in addition to, the gasket.

Gutter blockages
Scoop out the rubbish with a trowel or a piece of card shaped to the profile of the gutter. Don’t use the downpipe as a rubbish chute as it may become blocked or the rubbish sink into the drain. Flush out the gutter with water; it should flow steadily towards the downpipe. If it overflows at the entrance then the downpipe is blocked and needs to be cleared. If the downpipe gets blocked tie a small bundle of rags to the end of a pole and use this as a plunger to push away any obstruction. Place a bowl at the outlet on the ground to prevent rubbish sinking into the drain. If there is a ‘swan neck’ between the gutter and the downpipe, use a length of stiff wire to clear it of debris. To prevent further blockages, fit a cage into the entrance of the downpipe. You can easily make one of these by rolling a piece of wire or plastic netting into a ball the same size as the downpipe.