Gutters and downpipes checklist

  • Check your gutters and downpipes: To prevent water damage to your property, you should make sure your gutters and downpipes are free of leaves and other debris. This is particularly important in autumn. Properly maintained gutters and downpipes are vital in efficiently moving rainwater from the roof to the stormwater drains or tanks. 
  • Gutters usually get choked with leaves, moss and branches. Downpipes, particularly where they bend at the bottom, can become clogged by debris that’s been washed down by heavy rains. If your downpipe ends in gully or a trap, you should also make sure that it’s free of any debris. Check for leaks in the joints of your gutters and downpipes to prevent your outer walls from getting unnecessarily wet. If you see algae growth on your wall, then it’s probably absorbing water from a leaking gutter or downpipe; check for algae growth in shaded areas of your outer wall.
  • Because downpipes are installed by inserting one into the other in one direction, they are not supposed to leak even when seals/sealants are not used. A leak in the downpipes is commonly caused by cracks or blockages. 
  • If your downpipe spills directly into a grate, make sure the water does not spill around the edges. The ground that surrounds the grate will eventually erode over time from constant water overflow, and the wall will soon start absorbing the excess water as well. To prevent this, the grate should have raised edges and surrounded with brick or concrete, not soil.  
  • You should also check your roof; roofing damage, such as broken tiles, can cause rainwater to collect at the bottom instead of going directly to the gutters and cause more damage. Make sure your roof’s membrane system is clear of debris and other obstruction so that water flows freely and directly into the gutter.  
  • When using a ladder to check your roof and gutters, make sure your ladder is stable and secure to avoid accidents. Install a permanent eye bolt where it’s high enough for you to tie the topmost rung of the ladder. Secure the bottom with a bag of sand placed across the foot or over the first rung. If the ladder is placed on soil, grass, or gravel, stamp on the first rung until the foot of the ladder sinks enough that the whole ladder doesn’t wobble.  
  • If gutters or downpipes are corroded or damaged, they require repair or replacement. This work must be carried out by a plumber who is registered or licensed in roofing (stormwater) work. If the total cost of the work is $750 or more, the plumber must provide a compliance certificate.


Water tank checklist

  • Check your water tanks. Make sure that there are no leaks and that your have no signs of deterioration. They should be sealed tight; light or dust should not be able to enter the tank. Visually inspect pipes, outlets, and access points for leaks or structural damage.
  • Every one or two years, check the sediment level, or sludge, in your tanks. You may want to hire a professional for a thorough cleaning of the inside of your tanks, but you can also easily remove sludge by opening the valve at the bottom.  
  • Prevent birds, insects, and other animals from gaining access to the water by removing any overhanging branches, nearby wires and antennas, and other potential perches. You should also use a mesh to cover the tank’s inlet and overflow to prevent leaves and debris from entering the tanks.  
  • Prevent corrosion and metal contamination by ensuring that your gutters and pipes are self-draining or fitted with drainage points.
  • Your tanks should be covered to prevent sunlight from reaching the water; sunlight will encourage the growth of bacteria and algae inside the tanks. The cover should have a tightly sealed hatch for easy access when you need to inspect and clean the inside. 
  • You should  install a first-flush diversion device to use at the start of each rainy season, or during the first good rains of the year. The device will allow you to flush out roof runoff and rinse your gutters, as the first rains they’ll collect will most likely be contaminated.
  • Your water tanks can become breeding sites for mosquitoes, which are known carriers of many diseases. Prevent mosquitoes from breeding by fitting your guttering and pipework with drainage points or making sure they are self-draining. Make sure no water is collected and left standing under the tap or overflow outlet. Make sure there are no holes or spaces where mosquitoes can enter the tank; cover the overflow with plastic or an insect mesh. If your tank holds more than 10,000 liters, you can also add 1 and one-cups of liquid food grade paraffin oil to the water as a short-term anti-mosquito measure.

Decks and balconies checklist

  • Check the condition of decks and balconies: The structural integrity of decks and balconies can be affected by environmental conditions, pests, loading, and normal wear and tear over time. Any sign of deterioration will make your deck and balcony increasingly unsafe and will reduce their lifespan. 
  • Whether you have a well-maintained timber or concrete deck or balcony, you should check for signs of deterioration at least once a year. 
  • Make sure that water does not pool anywhere on the main deck or balcony, as well as at the base of the posts. 
  • Check for loose or rusted bolts and brackets, and loose or rotting handrails and/or balustrades.  
  • Look for brickwork or masonry that may have been dislodged, cracks or weakening in the mortar and concrete, and signs of leaning or sloping. 
  • Check for signs of termites and wet rot. 
  • If any part of the structure, especially steel and fixings, is constantly exposed to saltwater or sea spray, check for signs of corrosion.
  • Always use an appropriately registered building practitioner (building surveyor, building inspector, builder or structural engineer) to carry out maintenance checks and make repairs to balconies, decks and balustrades.