Gutter systems are not invincible. If you neglect clogged or leaking gutters, the damage could spread to other parts of your home. To help you stay one step ahead, we’ll cover 8 common gutter problems and how to fix them. Most of these solutions are not DIY-friendly and should be left to the trusted hands of professionals. If you risk fixing gutter problems yourself, you may end up damaging your gutters or hurting yourself.
- Common Gutter Problems and How to Fix Them
- Do Your Gutters Need Repair or Replacement?
- How to Prevent Future Gutter Problems
- Risks and Dangers of DIY Repairs
- FAQ About Common Gutter Problems
- Don’t Make Matters Worse: Trust the Pros
Common Gutter Problems and How to Fix Them
Gutters are an essential part of your home exterior. If they are blocked by debris, then the next rainstorm will make you regret not getting your gutters cleaned. There are more problems that gutters commonly suffer from, but they also come with effective solutions.
1. Clogged Gutters
This is an extremely common gutter problem among homeowners. Your gutters will clog when they accumulate debris, such as leaves, branches, and dry pine needles. Clogs will lead to drainage issues, causing your gutters to overflow, and resulting in foundational erosion due to continuous water damage.
Let’s not forget the critters that all that organic debris will attract, such as squirrels. Excess water weight may also cause your gutters to sag and pull away from your house, which is another common problem. We’ll sum up the problems caused by clogged gutters, followed by solutions.
- Drainage issues
- Attract unwanted pests
- Gutters may start pulling away from your home
- Can create areas for water to infiltrate your roof
- Gutter cleaning: Debris removal is key to avoid gutter clogs. You should consider hiring professional gutter cleaners to remove the accumulated debris at least twice a year, especially in late fall and spring.
- Gutter guards: You can install gutter guards to avoid this issue from recurring. It is an effective measure to reduce the amount of debris in your gutter system. Even with guards installed, you should still hire professionals to occasionally clean out your gutters.
2. Leaking Gutters
When too much debris accumulates in your gutter system, it may not be able to handle the excess water weight. The fasteners of your gutter system may loosen, and cracks may even start to appear. As a result, you will notice a stream of water pouring down your gutters. A leak will compromise the system and potentially damage your home’s exterior walls, siding, soffits and fascia boards.
- Severe leaks will cause your gutters to pull apart
- Compromise the entire gutter system
- Damage your home exterior
- Water pools may form close to your home
- Gutter sealant: It is used to caulk the leaky gutter joints. Larger holes or cracks will need to be patched. Though patching kits are available in most hardware stores, consider hiring a pro if you’re not an experienced DIY-er.
Pro tip: Patch should be the same material as your gutter system. Mixing metals may cause corrosion.
- Gutter replacement: If your gutter is suffering from major leaks and starting to pull apart, then it may need to be replaced. If so, consider installing a seamless gutter system. They lack joints, which are a weak point of sectional gutters, and are less vulnerable to leaks.
3. Sagging Gutters
The most common cause for sagging gutters is letting them become clogged with debris. Clogs prevent proper drainage and allow water to collect in a certain section of your gutter system. The added stress on that gutter section may cause the hangers to fail, which leads to gutter sagging or a total collapse of the gutter section.
- Gutter hangers will pull out when they can’t hold additional weight (water and debris)
- Gutters will start pulling away from your home
- Total collapse of certain gutter sections
- Water drainage issues
- Tightening the screws: If the hangers are not damaged, then you won’t need to replace them. You’ll only need to tighten the screws to make sure the gutter section doesn’t pull away or collapse. It’s an easy task if you own a suitable ladder and are an experienced DIY-er.
- Install additional hangers: Hangers secure the gutters to a house’s fascia board. If they’re installed too far apart from each other, consider installing new ones to help your gutters deal with excess weight. This does not mean you may let debris accumulate in your gutters. It’s merely a measure to reduce the risk of sagging.
4. Improper Gutter Slope
Essentially, gutters need to be properly pitched toward the downspout. If not, water will collect in certain areas of your gutter system and not drain properly. This will cause excess stress to your gutters if not taken care of, as well as hardware failure.
- Standing water in your gutter system
- Improper drainage
- Water will not flow toward the downspout and away from your home
- Adjust the slope: This task is not DIY-friendly. Hire a professional to adjust the angle of your gutter system. For proper water drainage, your rain gutter should slope one-half inch for every 10 feet toward the downspout.
5. Plant Growth in Gutters
The organic debris that accumulates in your gutters will serve as fertile soil from which vegetation can spout. This can weigh down your system and disrupt the water flow. Birds, squirrels, rats, and mice can be drawn to the plants growing in your gutters, causing further damage.
- Gutter cleaning: Debris removal is a solution to a lot of gutter problems. Cleaning your gutters at least twice a year will prevent plant growth and reduce damage to your system. Additionally, your gutters will be less attractive to invading critters.
- Gutter guards: Installing guards will help keep debris out of your gutters, thus reducing vegetation growth.
6. Ice Dam Formation
Ice dams can form near the edges of your roof and gutters during freezing temperatures. Clogged gutters can worsen ice build-up and cause water runoff to seep under your roof shingles, resulting in further damage.
- Roof leaks
- Improper water drainage
- Total gutter blockage
- Heating cables: Prepare for the harsh winter by installing a gutter heating system, or self-regulating heating cables.
- Hire a pro: If you’re dealing with existing ice dams, hire a professional to remove them. Do not attempt to break ice dams into smaller chunks. You may damage your gutter and roof. With professionals, you’ll get high-quality service with no damage to your roof or gutter.
7. Back-Flowing Gutters
This occurs when rainwater draining from your roof edge runs behind the gutters, instead of into the gutter troughs. Back-flow in gutter troughs can be caused by clogged gutters, poorly situated systems, or improperly installed flashing around them.
- Rainwater won’t drain away from your home. Puddles or water pools near your foundation may cause basement floods.
- Damage to siding and exterior walls
- Entire gutter system could be compromised, resulting in a costly replacement
- Hiring gutter pros: If you notice back-flows or overflowing gutters, you should hire a pro immediately to avoid further damage to your gutters or home.
8. Bad Downspout Drainage
When the downspout is positioned incorrectly, it won’t be able to direct water away from your home. This can lead to pooling near your basement, or yard flooding. The downspout should be properly placed to function optimally, otherwise water would flow in places it shouldn’t.
- Water pools will be an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes
- Gutter overflow
- Standing water in the gutter channel
- Damaged siding
- Downspout positioning: This is not a DIY task. Hire professionals to fix your downspout’s positioning, allowing it to function with your gutters properly.
Do Your Gutters Need Repair or Replacement?
Most common gutter problems can be repaired, without the need for a replacement. But when your gutter issues are severe beyond basic repair, the pros will suggest a replacement. This is why gutter maintenance is essential to avoid irreparable damage. Here are some examples:
- Minor leaks
- Loose gutter hangers
- Gutter realignment
- Blocked gutters (debris, ice blocks)
- Improper gutter slope
- Severe gutter leaks
- Major cracks appear from ice blocks in your gutters
- Old gutters that cause regular problems
- Damaged gutters that have pulled away from your home
How to Prevent Future Gutter Problems
Some gutter issues may be out of your control, but there are still some effective measures to prevent major gutter problems in the future.
- Gutter cleaning: We cannot stress this enough, but gutter cleaning is key to avoiding several gutter problems. Unless you’re experienced, you should hire professional cleaners to remove debris and unclog your gutters.
- Realign the gutter: If you notice signs of improper water drainage, without any clogged sections of the gutter, then your system needs to be realigned. If you don’t address this problem, water will sit there instead of flowing down the spout, resulting in water damage.
- Rusty gutter spots: Rusty gutters are a minor issue that can easily be dealt with. Use a wire brush to scrape away the rust, then apply a thin coat of roofing cement.
Risks and Dangers of DIY Repairs
DIY tasks help you save money, but not at the expense of harming yourself or damaging your property. Here are some dangers of DIY repairs that will make you consider hiring professionals:
- Falling off the ladder: This may occur for several reasons. You may be using an old or unsuitable ladder for gutter cleaning, or you have balance issues resulting from a fear of heights.
- Improper measurements: If you’re installing gutters yourself, you may end up taking wrong measurements and affecting the whole installation process. Improper measurements may also result in leaks and gutter damage.
- No warranty: When you hire pros to install new gutters, you’ll get a warranty that covers any problems that may occur down the line. Repairing damage after a DIY installation will come out of your own pocket.
- Wrong gutter type: You may not always know which gutter type is best for your home. This is where pros come in and give you proper suggestions. If you lack the knowledge or experience, you might end up picking the wrong gutter system for your home.
FAQ About Common Gutter Problems
When you don’t clean your gutters or remove organic debris, several unwanted critters will be attracted to them and cause further damage. Here are some examples:
• Bees, wasps, hornets, and other stinging insects
• Rodents such as mice, rats, opossums, and chipmunks
If you encounter any problems with such pests, especially the dangerous ones, leave it to the experienced wildlife removal team.
When different metal materials are put in contact with each other, all it takes is an electrolyte to cause galvanic corrosion. In the case of gutters, rainwater is an electrolyte that will certainly cause corrosion.
Let’s say you have a copper gutter system installed, all hardware materials must be copper as well. Anything different and the next rainfall will trigger the chemical reaction. Copper gutters are expensive enough, so just imagine how much the repairs will cost.
Vinyl has the shortest lifespan of all gutter types, lasting anywhere from 10 to 15 years. Stainless steel can last between 20 and 50 years. These two types of gutters are budget-friendly, but definitely not as durable as zinc or copper.
Gutters with poor durability will be more prone to damage, resulting in more repairs. They may cost little, but won’t give you any peace of mind.
Don’t Make Matters Worse: Trust the Pros
Neglecting gutter cleaning and other maintenance tasks can lead to costly outcomes. Unless you’re an experienced handyworker with all the right tools, you shouldn’t repair or replace gutters yourself. This may result in further damage to your home, or serious injuries after falling down the ladder.
Fixing gutter issues can be difficult and time-consuming. Wouldn’t you rather spend your free time relaxing or going out with your family or friends? Hire local gutter cleaning professionals for high-quality service and peace of mind.