How are your gutters?

As I’m working at my computer, local carpenter Martin Fox (no relation) is busy outside, rehanging the front door.

The door’s been sticky for a few months now, we’ve been blaming the weather, but have now finally got round to getting it fixed. Martin’s not only fixed the door, but has diagnosed the problem: a gap in the gutter on the upstairs flat has caused water to pour down, soak the corner of our door, and cause it to swell. I’m getting onto the housing office to get the gutter repairs sorted out. But it would be so much better if this hadn’t happened in the first place.

It reminds me of all the other problems caused by not sorting out the gutters, from recurrent damp patches in people’s homes to collapsing ceilings in historic houses. The pity of it is that often these disasters can be avoided by a spot of what my friend George Allan calls preventative maintenance – fixing things before they go wrong.

He’s focusing on historic buildings, but as my door repair shows, modest modern homes are affected too.

So if, unlike me, you have your own gutters, I’d definitely recommend getting them checked and cleaned before you have a worse problem to deal with.


1 Comment »

  1. Matthew Huntbach said

    There are some interesting thoughts that stem from this. Preventative maintenance is not politically sexy, in fact it’s invisible.

    So, if you are say, running a council, and a message comes from above “We’re cutting your budget, there’s bound to be wasteful things you do that can be cut”, what do you cut? Preventative maintenance, of course.

    Or, again, if you’re running a council and you want to look good and get re-elected, what do you do? Spend money on a big flashy new project, or spend it on preventative maintenance? I think the answer is rather obvious.

    Of course, given that you’ve been cutting preventative maintenance for years, you may now be finding the real costs of those cuts are coming through in costly emergency repairs that have to be done. So that’s why the people are moaning at you “we pay all those taxes and we don’t seem to be getting anything for them”.

    Perhaps the same is happening more generally in society. If you’re a banker an you get a big bonus for a flashy new project which has an immediate impact, and nothing for preventative maintenance which ensures your investments stay safe in the bad times maybe years after you’ve moved on, what do you do?

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