Gutters protect your home from water damage by channeling rainwater away from your siding and foundation, but only if they are in good shape. Falling limbs, debris and other natural hazards can do a number on them, so knowing how to prevent gutter damage is the key to keeping them functioning well and protecting your home.
Causes of Gutter Damage
Here are some common causes of gutter damage.
- Physical impact. Falling tree branches can bend or smash gutters.
- Poor installation. Installation errors such as selecting the wrong gutter size and improper pitching can significantly decrease the lifespan of your gutters. Gutter installation isn’t a DIY task, so we recommend you hire a gutter professional to avoid these errors.
- Poor maintenance. Regular gutter maintenance is necessary to prevent problems. You should get rid of the debris from your gutters, inspect them for damages at least twice a year, and fix them, if any.
- Intense weather conditions. Heavy wind, lightning strikes, and snow can damage your gutters. After such incidents, inspect your gutters for damage and fix them immediately to prevent further damage.
- Age. As your gutters become older, the materials will automatically wear out. It’s time to replace your gutters if they are over 20 years old and require frequent repairs.
Tips To Prevent Gutter Damage
1. Choose the Right Gutter Material
If you want durable and long-lasting gutters, invest in the correct material. Here are the most popular gutter materials.
- Copper gutters are the longest-lasting and can withstand extreme weather conditions. It’s beautiful and will retain its color even as it ages. Copper gutters are expensive and will cost $30 per linear foot.
- Stainless steel gutters last over 50 years when properly maintained and can survive in harsh weather conditions. They aren’t cheap; they cost about $25 per linear foot. Stainless steel gutters are heavy, so DIY installation isn’t possible with help and the right tools.
- Aluminum gutters cost $15 per linear foot and are an affordable alternative to stainless steel. They come in many styles and are easy to install. Aluminum gutters usually last for 25 years before they start to deteriorate.
- Zinc gutters are attractive and durable. They last for over 50 years but are hard to install. Zinc gutters cost about $20 per linear foot.
- Vinyl gutters are the most affordable and have the shortest lifespan of all materials. They don’t rust but can’t handle harsh weather conditions. Vinyl gutters are easy to install and can cost you $9 per linear foot.
Note: The cost of gutters mentioned above is approximate and can vary depending on your region.
2. Clean Gutters Regularly
Clean your gutters at least twice a year to ensure they function efficiently. Debris accumulates in gutters over time, and those clogs cause water to overflow, damaging your home’s foundation, roof, siding, and landscape. Removing gunk ensures water flows smoothly.
Clean your gutters during early spring to remove small branches and other debris accumulated during winter storms. Plants shed their leaves rapidly in the fall, and cleaning your gutters during late fall can help you remove them.
Note: Downspouts direct the water from your gutters to the drainage system. They are an important part of your gutter system, so don’t forget to clean them when working on your gutters.
If you have the time and experience climbing on ladders and cleaning gutters, you can do this yourself. Otherwise, it’s best to leave gutter cleaning to professionals.
3. Inspect Your Gutters
Inspecting your gutters regularly allows you to spot problems before they require expensive repairs. You can inspect your gutters when you clean them. Here’s what to look for during the inspection.
- Loose screws. If your gutters are loose, untightened screws are most likely the culprit behind them. Grab your screwdriver to tighten the screws. You can install fascia hanger brackets to ensure the gutters don’t come off even if the screws become loose.
- Slow-moving water. If you notice the water is moving extremely slowly, the slope is inadequate. In this case, slightly tilt your gutters towards the downspout by adjusting the spikes or hangers.
- Leaks. If you notice water leakage along the seam or end cap, you can fix it by applying new sealant. However, if there’s a hole in the body, you may have to replace your gutters.
4. Install Gutter Guards
You can minimize debris buildup by installing gutter guards. If there’s less debris in your gutters, you don’t have to put much effort into cleaning them.
Since gutter guards minimize debris buildup, pests won’t make your gutters their home. They also prevent mold formation and alleviate ice dams, increasing the lifespan of your gutters.
Here are the popular types of gutter guards.
- Foam gutter guards are inexpensive but don’t last long. They suit various gutter styles and are easy to install.
- Mesh gutter guards allow water to flow through your gutters while blocking most debris. They are long-lasting and easy to maintain but are difficult to install.
- Micro-mesh gutter guards can filter pine needles and most other small debris while letting the water flow through. They are generally considered the most effective gutter guards but are on the expensive side.
- Screen gutter guards look similar to mesh guards but with larger holes. They are affordable, easy to install, and can block large debris.
- Surface tension gutter guards have a slotted opening on the outside for water to enter. They have been around for a long time and are relatively expensive.
- Brush gutter guards have bristles that block debris while allowing water to flow through. They are easy to install and come in various sizes, but the bristles are difficult to clean.
5. Install a De-Icing System
If you live in a snowy region, you may consider installing a de-icing system to prevent ice dams from forming in your gutters. Besides gutters, ice dams can also form on your roof and cause problems like leaks and mold growth. Your roof can even collapse if too much ice dam accumulates.
Install de-icing heat cables in your roof, gutters, and downspouts to melt snow and prevent ice dams from forming.
Water freezes during cold weather, causing your gutters to expand and break. When you install a de-icing system, the water won’t freeze and will flow through your gutter system smoothly.
Copper and stainless steel are heavy-duty gutter materials that withstand impact from hail and heavy storms. They last more than 50 years when properly maintained, and copper gutters can even last for over 80 years.
We recommend you clean your gutters twice a year, during early spring and late fall. If you live in a wet region, you should clean your gutters more often.
- If there’s a crack
- If they pull away from the roof
- If there’s too much rust
- If there’s extensive mold growth
- If there are too many breaks at the seams
The Final Word
Gutters channel water away from your home’s foundation and are vital to prevent water damage. Many homeowners neglect the importance of gutters and don’t maintain them properly. As a result, they have to deal with expensive repairs.
Gutters are on the exterior and will get damaged over time. However, you can extend their lifespan if you maintain them regularly and install gutter guards.
If you need help with anything related to gutters, get in touch with MyGutterGnome gutters pros. From regular gutter maintenance to gutter repair to gutter installation services, our pros do everything.