Lead Lined Stone Guttering Leaking - Sealing & Permanent

21 Dec 2011
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United Kingdom

Our house was built in 1847 a mid-terrace in a group of four, it is constructed from sandstone and has stone, lead lined cornice guttering.

Had some issues last year with a leak around the join between two sections of the stone gutter, directly above the front door. Water was dripping then it pools above the top of the door surround and drips onto the right hand side of the front elevation.

Question: There is no lead flashing above the door surround, is this usual? Neither left nor right hand neighbour has any.

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Leaking from the gutter seems to have been a problem for many years as the stonework around where the water soaks in is weathered/decayed quite a lot on the surface and a couple of sandstone blocks have been faced up with what looks like ugly, pure grey cement. Where another couple of sections of stone gutter meet, under the front room window, the stone is very heavily damaged, but currently this is only leaking a little bit and even that could be due to the below causing water to run underneath the actual lead lining..

Anyway, my old neighbour fixed the leak at the time by using his blow torch on the lead, and some sealant however it has started leaking again a few weeks ago, only this time it is much worse than last time because old neighbour chopped out the pointing between the two sections of stone gutter, but did not repoint.. so water is now dripping/a constant rapid trickle depending on how much it's raining! see:

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I've been up on some ladders and the lead joint between left hand side neighbour and us looks like this (cracks and loads of old sealant!);

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Edge of lead is chock a block full of sealant!

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Another lead joint which has been sealed, this one looks ok?

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When it rains heavily we get water ingress to the bedroom which has soaked in above some more failed pointing above the window, into the wooden surround and drips onto the sill.

It looks like every lead joint of ours and our immediate neighbour to the left, is sealed with some dark grey sealant? Where we are having the leaking, the lead has cracked (again) in multiple places as you can see.

Question: What can I use to temporarily seal these cracks again? (until I can get this fixed properly..) I have been looking online and found 'Polysulphide sealant' which comes in a grey colour and I've heard something mentioned about 'Leadmate' - are either of these suitable? What would be best to use and is it just a case of liberally applying to lead cracks/joints on a relatively fine day?

At the back of the house and our kitchen which is a separate building we have no leaks from the stone gutters, the lead here was redone circa 2006 and looks to have proper compression joints. The front however, doesn't look anything as neat or as properly done. The tradesman that did the job I believe was elderly and has since retired.

I've had a quote to sort out the gutter at the front which includes putting scaffolding up, removing slates and laths to 1 metre from eaves, renew bottom layer of underfelt (roof was re-roofed in 2006 and has modern sarking felt under it) reline gutter in code 5 lead with t-pren expansion joints, remove old lead from site, reinstate slates and renew all leadwork to roof.

Question: Does all of this sound reasonable? It comes in at £1400 is this a realistic quote considering the work involved?

I read that if you have stone slates as we do, it is best to have two lots of lead, one that is under the slates and laps into the gutter and another in the gutter and over the edge of the gutter. The reason for this is because if it is just one piece, the heavy stone slates act as a fixing in effect and will reduce movement in the lead and you could get cracks, is this correct?

My left hand neighbour wants to seal their gutter lead joints as all their joints started leaking the past few days and they probably had a quote similar to above (scaffolding, removal of slates, renewal of lead etc) and they say the lead is fine.. am I likely to still have issues if I have my gutter done but left hand neighbour doesn't?

Some more pics looking to the right hand side:

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And to the left hand side:

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Sorry for length of post, this has been a worry for a while and need some advice from people in the know please! Thanks a lot in advance.
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1/ The door canopy has never had lead on it, maybe a bit of pointing .

2/ Your quote to renew the gutter is far too cheap.

Clean the gutter out and give it a coat of acrypol..
Hi alastairreid,

Thanks for the response, is there a short term alternative to acrypol?

What do you think the grey stuff that has already been used on the cracks is? Ideally if I could get some of that I should be able to seal temporarily until I can get a roofer next year?

You say the quote is too cheap, how much do you think it should be?

I would think that most quotes would be in the region of £2000.

Acrypol is a temporary repair solution that you paint over the entire gutter,
you could use lead sealant in the cracks as a temporary measure.
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Interesting building, replacing lead gutter is a specialist job so do plenty of research and be sure of what you want done before scoping the job with a contractor. There's a bit of information about lead gutters in this article for example..


As you've commented leadwork must allow for expansion, anything which constrains the lead too tightly will cause distortion and eventually cracks. Sealant will always fail for the same reason the original lead did so it's a very temporary solution at best. You could try something like this to get you through winter..


I'd apply it on a dry day and perhaps clean the surface with Scotchbrite first - if you try this wear gloves and be sure not to breathe any dust.

Why does the roof need repair? Does it leak before water gets as far as the gutter? If the roof itself has failed after a reroof in 2006 it will still be in warranty if it was done by a reputable company. Guarantees vary but I'd expect 25 years.

Assuming that water gets as far as the gutter without going through the roof then only the gutter needs to be replaced. From your pictures it looks as though the material behind the gutter needs work to support the lead properly. There are dips in the lead where water will accumulate but the water should run freely to the drain point. The substrate should have steps to accommodate joints and it's possible the lead was replaced without putting the joints in the right place, that would create peaks and troughs in the surface.

Code five might be a bit lightweight for a gutter. 'remove old lead from site' should be considered as part payment for the job, it has scrap value.

I can see the attraction of t-pren joints but personally I'd want it put back to how it was done in 1847, they didn't have neoprene then but the gutter probably worked fine for a very long time without it.
Sounds like the lead needs replacing, its a costly job now why was it not changed when the roof was done in 2006.
Can't comment on the lead as that really does require someone in the know who is pretty good at sealing and welding.

I know i'm always barting on about EPDM but if installed properly it really is the way forward for conc gutters. As long as you go a good few tiles up the roof and wrap all the hips etc then it's virtually impossible to leak.


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