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Drain pipes are an essential element in the exterior plumbing and rainwater management systems used on practically every home and property throughout the UK. Unfortunately, they often present an irresistible attraction for children who will attempt to climb almost anything and they can also present attractive access routes for burglars who want to break into buildings. In this post we look at how our popular downpipe covers provide essential protection for exterior pipework.
Before looking more closely at why downpipes need protection its worthwhile clarifying exactly what downpipes are.
Rainwater downpipes are used to direct rainwater, collected in roof guttering or rain channels, away from buildings to a drainage system. These drain pipes are also sometimes called downspouts, drain spouts, roof drain pipes or leaders.
Building regulations require that adequate provision is made to manage the rainwater that falls onto buildings. To achieve this, rooftops need to be appropriately designed to route the rainwater to the collection channels or guttering. Downpipes then connect to the main rainwater drainage system, preventing rainwater from accumulating and causing damage.
Traditional downpipes were made from cast iron and there are many of these old systems still in place today. But uPVC pipework is now commonly used because its much easier to install, requires very little maintenance and is low cost. Drainage downpipes are typically circular with a diameter of 50 to 150mm, but square profile pipes are also used these days.
A recent case, in which a burglar was caught on CCTV as he climbed a drain pipe to reach an open upper storey window, demonstrates why anti climb protection is important. The opportunist thief had spotted an open upstairs window at around 8:30pm and proceeded to break in by climbing a drain pipe to reach the window. The homeowner was home at the time and became aware that an intruder was in his house. The criminal then jumped out of the window and made his escape by running away.
He was subsequently arrested after the police examined CCTV footage which clearly showed him using the downpipe to access the open upstairs window and break in. They also carried out forensic investigation of a hat the criminal had left at the scene. The perpetrator was subsequently jailed for 2 years and 4 months for this offence.
This crime report clearly highlights how opportunist thieves will take advantage of any identified weakness. In this reported case the homeowner was luckily not attacked in their home by the invading criminal who had gained access by scaling an exterior drain pipe.
Preventing downpipes from being used as ladders, enabling burglars to reach upper storey windows or rooftops, is one of the primary reasons why downpipe protection is essential. But its not only criminals who need to be prevented from climbing drain pipes.
As noted, children can be irresistibly attracted to almost anything they might be able to climb. Drain pipes around schools, homes and other buildings, are often used by youngsters to gain access to rooftops simply for fun. While the children involved may not have any purposely malicious intent they can inadvertently cause significant damage to pipework, the rooftops they climb onto and possibly themselves.
Protecting downpipes from being used as a climbing frame by kids prevents damage and helps avoid any nasty injuries.
Exterior pipework on walls which face onto spaces used by vehicles, such as car parking areas or supermarket goods yards, is particularly susceptible to accidental damage. If a vehicle inadvertently bumps into a downpipe significant damage to the pipework is likely, and damaged rainwater drainage pipework can result in flooding and expensive structural damage to buildings.
Protecting exterior pipework in vulnerable areas from accidental damage saves money and helps ensure that drainage systems operate reliably.
Exterior downpipes aren’t particularly attractive and many people endeavour to conceal what they consider to be unsightly pipework on their buildings by growing climbing plants. This technique can be very effective although it must be noted that the downpipes should never be used to support climbing plants as the accumulating weight of the growing plant can be too much for some pipework. Some form of plant support is generally recommended and this is often achieved using cables, flanking the downpipes. Wall lattices and grids are also sometimes used to enable plants to grow without any adverse load on drainage pipes.
Galvanised downpipe covers provide an instantly effective aesthetic enhancement to exterior pipework. Unlike the planting technique, there is no need to wait for plants to grow to cover unsightly drain pipes. Downpipe covers are simply and easily bolted into place, providing immediate protection and hiding unsightly exterior pipework. They are available either over-painted, in black or white, or in the plain galvanised metal finish which can then be painted to match the building.
As noted, our galvanised steel drain pipe covers make it easy to cover and protect existing exterior drain pipes. The covers feature full length flanges on either side, pre-drilled with multiple fixing holes. These enable the covers to be firmly bolted to the wall on either side of the downpipe.
Installation can be successfully carried out by anyone with modest DIY skills and a few basic tools. Since the covers are generally used with brickwork or masonry surfaces they are supplied with a number of fast-fix masonry bolts. Installation simply requires 6mm holes to be drilled using an appropriate masonry drill bit and the cover can then be firmly bolted in place.
These covers are designed to fit neatly and easily over most modern downpipes and drain pipes but some older cast iron drainage systems use bulky pipe mounting brackets which can’t be accommodated by the standard size cover. But we can supply bespoke drain pipe covers manufactured to any required size, as noted below.
To provide the protection required its essential that our downpipe covers are robust and long-lasting. This is why our covers are manufactured from folded and formed galvanised steel sheet, which is significantly stronger than aluminium or any form of plastic.
Importantly, the sheet steel is galvanised. This means it has been coated with zinc which ensures long-term durability and weather protection. Galvanisation has been used for over 150 years to provide steel with reliable durability, enabling it to withstand the rigours of exterior use without rusting.
Our downpipe covers are also available in black or white over-painted finishes which can significantly enhance the appearance of buildings. The paint is applied over the galvanised sheet steel and then baked on to establish an additional robust layer of weather protection.
As noted, the dimensions of our downpipe covers are exactly what’s needed to fit over most modern drain pipes. But there are occasions when specific sizes or adaptations are needed.
Similarly, our drain pipe covers in galvanised or painted finishes meet the needs of most installations, but there are occasions when alternative colours are required.
To meet the requirements of our valued customers we offer a bespoke drain pipe cover manufacturing service to produce any bespoke size or colour as required.
Our robust galvanised steel downpipe covers are recognised as highly effective, robust and long lasting. They are now widely used in a huge range of environments including:
We receive many reports telling us how the installation of our downpipe covers to protect exterior pipework has immediately stopped people from climbing the pipes and provided effective protection against expensive damage.
If you have any questions about our downpipe covers or if you have any special requirements remember that we are here to help. Give us a call on 01273 475500 and we’ll provide you with free, expert advice.
This message was added on Thursday 26th August 2021
Need Help or Advice?
Call the Insight team
01273 475 500