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5 reasons to use aluminium rainwater systems

Although perhaps not the most glamorous aspect of a building’s design, the rainwater disposal system plays a vital part in protecting the building, and in most cases is a visible embellishment to the façade.

There are lots of different options on the market, from cast-iron to plastic pipes, but in my opinion you can’t do any better than an aluminium system – and that’s not just because naval frigates, aeroplanes and space ships are made from the stuff.

So while an aluminium rainwater system might not be quite as exciting as a space ship, it can still offer a variety of pretty nifty benefits that makes it the ideal choice for roofing drainage.

One thing to bear in mind when specifying though, is that you must ensure the functionality and aesthetics of the rainwater system are of the highest standard, in order to provide best value throughout the life of the building. Therefore, if specifying a traditional style aluminium rainwater system, make sure it conforms to BS 8530:2010 as non-compliant aluminium systems will not achieve the anticipated expectations.

1. It’s good for the environment

Aluminium is perhaps the most sustainable building material there is. It’s the most abundant metallic element in the earth’s crust, making up about eight per cent by weight, and is the third most abundant of all the elements (after oxygen and silicon). What’s more, aluminium can be recycled again and again without any loss in quality and uses only five per cent of the original energy used to convert it from bauxite, when being recycled. Indeed, it’s been estimated that 75% of all the aluminium ever produced is still in use today.

2. It’s lighter than other materials

Aluminium rainwater systems are also up to 65 per cent lighter than cast iron, reducing the carbon footprint of transportation and being much quicker to install, helping to reduce cost. What’s more, aluminium systems are normally set at a fairly economic price point, which, coupled with the virtually non-existent maintenance requirements, makes them an extremely cost effective choice.

3. It doesn’t need to be repainted

High quality, marine-grade aluminium resists corrosion even in its raw, unpainted form. So when exposed to air, an oxide ‘barrier layer' forms on the surface, which despite being only nanometres thick, prevents any further oxidization. When this is paired with architectural grade Electrostatically Polyester Powder Coated paint, aluminium systems deliver an extremely durable, colour stable solution that requires no further maintenance.

4. It lasts for a really long time

Aluminium rainwater systems benefit from an extremely long lifespan of 50 years or more, however it’s important to note that not all aluminium was created equal. While marine grade aluminium benefits from a life expectancy of more than half a century, beware of products made from inferior quality aluminium, which will have a much shorter lifecycle and be susceptible to corrosion, particularly in heavily polluted or coastal region

5. It can be used to replace period features

Developments in manufacturing technology mean that some suppliers are now offering aluminium rainwater solutions (such as Alutec’s Tudor downpipe range) that conforms to BS 8530:2010 and perfectly emulates the style of traditional cast iron pipes – delivering the authentic historical appearance required on listed buildings or in conservation areas, but without the drawbacks associated with such as heavy and maintenance-prone material.

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