Top 5 Common Causes of Gutter Damage

damaged gutter on roof

Your gutter system is an important line of defense for your roof, directing water away that would otherwise lead to dangerous buildup and roof leaks. That’s why addressing gutter damage ought to be done right away. Let’s explore the top five common causes of gutter damage – as well as ways you can check for damage and what to do to get your gutters back on track.

5 Most Common Causes of Gutter Damage

Clogged Gutters

overflowing of clogged gutter
Photo Credit: Yurich84 / Canva Pro / License

Clogged or blocked gutters are a major source of gutter damage, potentially leading to overflow, sagging, and mold growth. Luckily, the solution to this problem is simple. Clear debris from your gutters at least twice a year and check them periodically after bad weather. Constant clogs getting you down? Installing gutter guards can help you avoid clogs entirely.

Poor Installation

Gutter care starts at installation. If your gutters were installed improperly or with poor materials, it can cause long-term damage down the line. Improper slope, poor placement, and loose gutters are three common installation issues. Installing gutters is always best handled by a trusted professional. 

Weather Damage

Severe storms and winter weather can wreak havoc on your gutters. After bad weather, you might discover issues with ice dams, dents, clogs, and leaks. Check your gutters after major storms and heavy rain to make sure there aren’t any major issues, and consider installing protective features, like heat cables.

Trees and Animals

a bird in a gutter
Photo Credit: Antonio Friedemann / Pexels

The flora and fauna in your yard can also cause problems for your gutters. Trees can drop leaves and twigs, while birds are likely to build nests in your gutters, forming clogs. Heavier fallen branches can lead to dents, and debris buildup can lead to pulling and sagging. 

Try cleaning your gutters out after birds leave their nests in the summer, or setting up gutter guards or an owl decoy to keep them out year-round. Also, trim nearby trees before the fall.


Like most of your home’s amenities, gutters wear down over time – especially if they’re made with cheaper materials like vinyl. Following a good gutter maintenance routine will reduce wear and tear over time to help your gutters last longer.

How to Check for Gutter Damage

rain gutter sagging on a roof
Photo Credit: Ben Baligad / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

If you suspect your gutters are damaged, it’s time for a gutter inspection. After giving your gutters a thorough cleaning, follow these steps to investigate them at home before you call a professional. 

Inspect for Rust, Mildew, and Mold

Debris buildup can lead to mildew, rust and mold in your gutters, which can spell a major problem. Once you’ve cleaned debris out of your gutters, inspect them for any signs of corrosion or unwelcome guests.

Look for Pulling, Sagging, and Water Damage

From the ground, look for signs that your gutters are pulling away from the fascia board or sagging where they hang. This could be a sign of an installation issue or long-term damage from blockages.

Also, check your home’s exterior for standing water, peeling house paint, or discoloration around your gutters. These are all signs of water damage that could be caused by clogs or improper installation.

Check for Leaks, Clogs, and Overflow

You can check for clogs, leaky gutters, and overflow using a water hose – and it’s particularly easy if you use a gutter attachment. Run a stream of water through the gutter and down the downspout, and check for any drips of water or overflow areas where it might be leaking out. Then, press an ear to the side of the downspout. You should be able to hear the water flow rushing towards the ground.

What to Do With Damaged Gutters

Some gutter problems, such as gutter clogs, debris accumulation, and some mildew and mold issues, can be resolved with a thorough gutter cleaning. Regular maintenance can prevent these problems from recurring. If your gutters are loose, a bracket tightening or fastener fix might resolve the issue.

For major gutter issues, such as sagging, gutter leaks, overflow, and dents, gutter replacement is likely your best option. Work with a trusted gutter tech to make sure your gutters are good to go. 

FAQ About Gutter Damage

How long should gutters last?

Different types of gutters last for different amounts of time. Vinyl gutters typically last around 10 to 15 years, aluminum and galvanized steel gutters can last up to 20, and copper gutters have a lifespan of 50 to 100 years. 

What are some signs your gutters need to be replaced?

Gaps, standing water, leaks, peeling paint, or discoloration are a few of the signs your gutters might need to be replaced.

How do you prevent gutter damage?

A proper gutter maintenance routine will help with some of the root causes of gutter damage, such as clogs and rusting. Installing additional amenities or new models, such as gutter guards, seamless gutters, and heat cables can also help.

When to Call a Professional

Gutter damage is no joke. If your gutters need to be fixed or replaced, don’t DIY — calling a trustworthy professional is the smartest (and safest!) choice. Local gutter pros provide dependable care from gutter installation to gutter repair — done right the first time. 

Main Image Credit: Bart Everson / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Annie Parnell

Originally from the Washington, D.C., area, Annie Parnell is a freelance writer and audio producer based in Richmond, Virginia. She is passionate about gardening, outdoor recreation, sustainability, and all things music and pop culture.