Building Construction, Renovation & Maintenance

Roof Gutters

Over zealous packaging

Last week they found a bloke dead under a bridge. The set of the face indicated an agonising death. He had a little plastic carton of water in one hand and a bent straw in the other and the autopsy showed he died of dehydration.

Have you ever noticed how hard it is to get into the drink they give you on an aeroplane or at a wedding? A plastic cup with a thin film over the top to protect the contents. You are thirsty, you try and push the straw through the plastic film, the end of the straw bends and that’s it, no matter how hard you try the straw won’t go in. You watch the people around to see how they handle this difficult situation. They have learned the hard way and, with a single aggressive stab, their straws puncture the plastic. You attempt to repeat the feat to no avail, there is no way you can get to that water without it ending up all over you.

It is a little known fact that water companies are on a mission and their containers are purposely designed with a challenge. It is a fundamental law of nature in countries like Indonesia that water is such a precious resource that it can’t be taken for granted and water containers have to be difficult to get into.

But it isn’t just the little water cups is it? The plastic tops on water bottles are purposely designed to be just so difficult to unscrew that before the cap will turn the bottle will crush and the contents will spew out all over you.

It seems that everything we buy these days is so well packaged even Arnold Schwarzenegger with an AK47 can’t get in and we are reduced to hysterical tearing and biting at the cellophane to try and get access to the precious contents within. Perhaps we are not being fair, after all packaging is designed to protect the contents and, let’s face it, the biggest threat to any packet of crisps is that someone is going to want to eat them. God forbid

I remember years ago when waxed paper cartons were being introduced in Australia to replace milk bottles. An interviewer with a sense of humour went out in the streets to see if anyone could open them. Perhaps the glue was a bit to strong at first but simply no one seemed able to open them. They had little old ladies tearing their rinse blue hair out in frustration and spot welders reduced to black coffee. Time passed and everyone found their own way around the problem such as scissors, knives, angle grinders orhand grenades.

An Enquiry about Box Gutters

I got an email the other day (I do sometimes). I nearly missed it hidden amongst the kind offerings of substantial financial assistance from Mr Umqueque, a kindly gentleman from Nigeria whose father was a senior member of the Bank of Tsetse but sadly died recently when he choked on a lit cigar and Svetlana a beautiful young Russian lady who has decided to give up her religious studies and convent life if she can find a polite and well mannered young man and was fortunate enough to have found my email address in the Moscow edition of the Salvation Army newsletter “Varkry”, and then of course there are those many wonderful people who care so much that they would like to provide me with what they perceive to be much needed medical preparations to keep my antlers in good order (whatever that might mean) or to help me develop my manhood using a new scientific breakthrough involving string and lead weights.

Anyway this was a pleasant man from Ubud who was seeking box gutters for his country residence.

Box gutters were originally made from wood with a metal lining and are noted for leaking either from poor joints or from rusting of the galvanised steel lining. The wood quickly rotted once the lining leaked.

In Australia box gutters are made from aluminium and are the most widely used roof gutters. They are often shaped on site using rollers and formed from aluminium strip. These gutters have a row of slots along the outer side so that if the downpipes block and the gutter overflows the water will escape outwards rather than running inwards under the roof and onto the soffits (that outside ceiling under the eaves).

Installing PVC Roof Gutters

Here in Indonesia roof gutters (known here as Talang) are a fairly new innovation for general use. Two sections are available, a half round version and a square section which, to all intents and purposes, are box gutters. Both are made from PVC and fittings are available and each comes in 2 sizes. The round gutters are to be avoided, they are not strong and the steel brackets they come with are simply not up to the job.

The square section gutters are good, they come in 15cms and 20cms wide and with a range of fittings such as connectors, right angles, end pieces and downpipe connectors. They are easy to assemble similar to the PVC piping we discussed last issue using a hacksaw to cut and solvent cement to connect (once again do not use PVC glue, make sure it is solvent cement or the connectors will leak.

Very good PVC brackets are available for the square section gutters. You will need to watch the people installing the gutter closely. The fact that water runs downhill is a magical quality little understood by the average "Butter" whose highly developed skills in the recycling of cigarette ends have rendered him eminently suited to his vocation as a master plumber.

It is well to remember that water is heavy stuff and when a gutter gets full there is a lot of weight to hold up, a fact lost on the average cigarette butt specialist. You need to use plenty of brackets, probably at least one every 60 cms of gutter length.

Joints must be well made or they will leak so great care must be taken with cleaning and applying the solvent cement to the joints.

Gutters must be installed very straight but with a slope towards the end where the drain pipe is. To do this a string should be used to make sure the brackets are all dead in line before the gutter is installed. A clear piece of plastic tubing with water in it is used to check the levels from one end of the gutter to the other. A 2% slope is very effective. The gutter clips into the PVC brackets and does not need any other fixing if it is installed properly.

If the gutter has wavy sides along its length you know that the people installing it have not got it straight enough and the gutter may “pop out” of the brackets.

A very common problem is that a gutter will be bowed in the middle, of course water will collect and the weight may well make the gutter bow even more and even overflow. Note that these gutters do not have overflow slots in them.

Fascia boards along the edge of roofs in Bali are not installed vertical, they are usually at right angles to the slope of the roof and so it is difficult to install a gutter which should always be mounted square to the ground. If you are building a new building try and insist that the fascia boards are installed vertically so the gutter brackets can be easily installed. You may find resistance to this from builders or architects who simply don’t understand what you want to do or how to achieve it.

Square PVC gutters and the fittings are widely available from building shops in and around Denpasar although in country areas the shop keeper may look at you as though you have a dose of leprosy.

Copyright Phil Wilson 2013
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25 July 2018 Copyright © Mr Fixit,
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