How To Inspect Gutters: A Step-By-Step Guide

man inspecting his gutters on his roof

Gutters catch and direct rainwater away from your home’s foundation, siding, and attic, saving you thousands of dollars in repair bills. But they perform their job effectively only if they are in good shape. Experts suggest inspecting your gutters at least twice a year to ensure they aren’t damaged or clogged.

Why Is Gutter Inspection Important?

Gutters protect your home from water damage, but only if they are in good condition. If your gutters are clogged, rainwater will overflow and may damage your home’s foundation. To avoid this and other problems, inspect and clean your gutters on a regular schedule. 

Gutter inspection can help you identify if there are any issues in your gutter system in the early stages, preventing expensive repairs. 

How often to inspect gutters

Inspect your gutters at least twice a year during early spring and late fall. Many homeowners inspect and clean their gutters at the same time, which saves time and effort. 

Step-By-Step Instructions To Inspect Gutters

ladder leaning against a roof
Photo Credit: Willowpix / Canva Pro / License

Step 1: What You’ll Need

Here are the tools required for gutter inspection. 

  • Ladder
  • Protective gloves
  • Gutter scoop
  • Garden hose

Gutter inspection is a simple DIY task, but follow these instructions to use the ladder carefully

  • Place it on a flat surface.
  • Work on a warm, dry day.  
  • Avoid standing on the top two steps. 
  • Don’t overreach. 
  • Angle it correctly. 

We recommend you use a friend or a family member to keep an eye on the ladder as you work on your gutters.  

Step 2: Check Your Gutters From the Ground

Before you climb the ladder, inspect your home’s gutter system for these problems from the ground. 

  • Incorrect slope: Gutters should slope half an inch for every 10 feet of gutter. If your gutters look level or too tilted, fix their pitch
  • Inconsistent gutter section: All gutter sections should align seamlessly. Sections shouldn’t be lower or higher than the others. 
  • Sagging gutters: Gutters should align with the roof. If a section of your gutter sags, water won’t flow properly, and you should repair or replace it
  • Rust: Look for rust at the bottom of your gutters and downspout. You can remove minor rust using a wire brush or sandpaper and then paint over that section.
  • Dents and other external damage: Check the bottom of your gutters, downspouts, and elbows for external damage. 

Step 3: Remove Debris

hand cleaning the roof gutter
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Clear debris off your gutters using a gutter scoop. To collect debris, you may attach a bucket to your ladder or simply scoop them to the ground and clean them once you inspect your gutters. 

Once you get rid of larger debris, you can use a garden hose to wash away smaller ones. Don’t forget to rinse your downspout to remove the debris accumulated there. 

Step 4: Check for Leaks and Good Water Flow

Rinse your gutter and check the underside for leaks. Also, don’t forget to check the gutter corner (miter) for leaks. 

The water should flow smoothly across your gutters and downspouts for proper drainage. If it doesn’t, the downspout may be clogged. To remove the clog, flush it with a garden hose or use a plumber’s snake. 

Step 5: Check for Standing Water

Rinse your gutter again after cleaning and check if the water flows freely. If it still moves slowly, the slope probably isn’t steep enough. Adjust the spikes or hangers to increase the slope toward the downspout. 

Don’t forget to recheck the water flow after adjusting the slope of your gutters. 

Step 6: Examine Gutter Spikes

inspecting gutters
Photo Credit: Lolostock / Canva Pro / License

Gutter spikes or hangers come loose over time and may cause gutters to sag. If you notice a gutter spike has come out, replace it immediately with a new one. Don’t re-secure it to the rafter as it’ll become loose again. 

Pro tip: We recommend you use hidden hangers instead of spikes for a longer-lasting fix. Hidden hangers clip to the inside of the gutters while being screwed to the fascia board. Unlike gutter spikes, hidden hangers aren’t visible from the ground, giving your gutter system a cleaner look. 

Step 7: Examine Gutter Seams (For Leaky Gutters)

If you notice a leak on your gutter, check whether it’s from the gutter body or seams. In most cases, it’ll be from joints, end caps, or miters, and a worn-out sealant will be causing the leak. To fix this issue, scrape the existing gutter sealant compound with a chisel and apply a new liquid rubber, paste, or spray-on silicone sealant. 

If a small crack or hole in the gutter body is causing the leak, you can fix it by applying roofing cement. But if the hole is larger, you need to replace the gutter


Are gutter guards necessary?

Yes, gutter guards increase the lifespan of your gutters and help you save time on gutter maintenance. They prevent debris buildup, pest infestation, and ice dam formation. If you have installed gutter guards, cleaning your gutters once a year is sufficient. 

When should you inspect and clean gutters? 

Combining gutter inspection and cleaning can help you save time and effort. Inspect and clean your gutters in early spring to remove the debris accumulated during winter storms and late fall to remove fallen leaves. If you live in a rainy region, we recommend you inspect and clean your gutters additionally during late spring to ensure proper water drainage. 

When should you replace gutters?

● If there’s a severe crack 
● If there’s a large hole
● If there are severe dents
● If they sag too far away from the roof
● If there’s extensive rust 

DIY vs. Hiring a Pro

Gutter inspection isn’t tough but can save you thousands of dollars in repair bills. Check your gutter for leaks and ensure the water flows smoothly without debris blockage in the downspout. We recommend you inspect your gutters at least twice a year during early spring and late fall. 

If you need help with gutter cleaning, repair, installation, or anything related to gutters, MyGutterGnome can get you in touch with local gutter experts. They know about all sorts of gutter problems and how to fix them. Plus, they’re just a click away!

Main Photo Credit: Boogich / Canva Pro / License

Abdul Wadood

Abdul Wadood understands that gutters aren't something to be compromised with. He informs homeowners about the importance of installing a gutter system and helps them maintain it in good shape. When free, you can find him exploring the world.