Drip, drip, drip, drip. There are few things more annoying than the unrelenting sound of a constant drip. But if it’s coming from your gutters, it’s more than annoying; it’s potentially damaging to your home. Not to worry. Repairing leaky gutters is not as difficult as you think.
- The Importance of Maintaining Gutters
- Causes of Leaky Gutters
- Repairing Different Sources of Leaks
- How to Know if You Have Leaky Gutters
- How to Maintain Gutters and Prevent Leaks
- FAQ About Repairing Leaky Gutters
The Importance of Maintaining Gutters
It may be easy to dismiss the small dribble of water from your gutter off the side of your house if it’s mostly out of sight and out of mind. But ignoring that leak can ultimately lead to much bigger and more costly problems.
When water continually drips from a leaky gutter it collects at your home’s foundation. This can cause soil erosion or even crack your foundation, which is definitely a problem no homeowner ever wants to deal with due to its hefty expense.
Problems caused by leaky gutters
- Roof damage and wood rot
- Ruin siding, soffit, and fascia
- Flood your basement
- Mosquito infestation
- Damage siding
- Crack driveways
- Stains on siding
- Soil erosion
- Crack in foundation
Causes of Leaky Gutters
A number of things can create leaks, but most of them trace back to poor maintenance. Regular maintenance prevents most causes of leaky gutters. However, time is also always going to be a factor as well, so be on the lookout for these potential problem sources while performing regular maintenance.
This is one of the most common causes but also the easiest to fix when done in a timely manner. The domino effect of letting clogs go untreated can be disastrous and expensive.
An accumulation of leaves, sticks, and other debris can block gutters, which can cause water to pool and create all kinds of problematic outcomes. Standing water will eventually rust metal gutters, or it can overflow the gutters and pummel the soil or landscaping below.
The weight of clogs or the pooling water can also cause your gutters to sag and pull away from your home. Water can seep through space from the nail holes as gutters shift, which can lead to rotting the fascia. And remember, fascia is a protective covering under the roofline. If it degrades, your roof may be compromised.
We recommend cleaning your gutters twice a year. When you do, closely inspect the overall condition of your gutters and address any issues you see.
Cracks and Holes
Severe weather can cause gutters to crack, particularly at the seams, braces, or gutter nails. These issues usually start as a small problem, but may develop into much larger problems if not addressed.
Metal gutters are particularly vulnerable to cracks and holes if they are not properly maintained. Rainwater can pool in areas, causing rust which can lead to holes in your gutters. Joints of galvanized steel gutters are often plagued with cracks and holes.
Most minor leaks can be fixed with a waterproof sealant to help extend the life of your rain gutters but bigger holes will need to be assessed and possibly require the part to be replaced.
In sectional gutters, the joints connecting two sections can separate over time, causing them to spring a leak. Sometimes these areas may be corroded enough that they will need to be replaced. But other times, silicone caulk or sealant may do the trick.
Some gutter systems may sag over time from age, wind, or being battered by tree limbs. If they sag, they may lose the slight angle necessary to keep water properly flowing through the system.
Sagging gutters will need to be rehung with the correct slope of a quarter inch for every 10 feet. If gutters are not hung with the proper slope, water can pool and lead to rust and holes.
Over time, fasteners loosen, creating a gap between the gutter and the fascia. This can cause water to seep through the back of the gutter directly onto the fascia. If this is not addressed immediately, the fascia boards can rot and you’ll have a whole new problem.
Debris clogging your gutters can also weigh them down, causing fasteners to loosen. Gutters will need to be rehung at the proper slope and fasteners may need to be replaced. In some cases, you can apply caulking or sealant around them and tighten the fasteners.
Repairing Different Sources of Leaks
Most small leaks can be fixed with gutter sealant. But for larger leaks, you may need to replace a portion of the gutter system. Consult a professional gutter company when in doubt.
Supplies you’ll need:
- Waterproof and weatherproof gutter sealant or roofing cement
- Replacement pieces if needed
- Putty knife
- Rubbing or denatured alcohol
- Garden hose
Begin by clearing all debris out of your gutter system. Using a pair of gloves, scoop out and dispose of large debris.
Use a putty knife to scrape away stubborn buildup and old caulk. The gutter should be clear of all debris and old sealant before continuing.
Once clear, use a garden hose to rinse the gutter system. You want to be sure all water can freely move through the gutters and that the area to be repaired is clean. Dry the gutter and then scrub the repair area with rubbing or denatured alcohol. A clean surface is essential to ensuring that the patch of caulk you apply will adhere.
Pro tip: You should remove all debris and clean your gutter system twice a year. This is the best way to prevent most gutter problems.
Repairing End Caps
As the name suggests, end caps fit over the open ends of gutters to keep water in. Over time, they can lose their watertight properties and leak. Perhaps the caulk or cement used to seal the end cap has degraded.
To fix this, remove the end cap and inspect it. If it is not warped, bent or otherwise damaged, you may be able to re-use it after first cleaning it thoroughly. If it’s not reusable, get a new one. They are not expensive.
Next, complete steps one and two above. Then, gently hammer the end cap onto the end of the gutter, making sure it is firmly in place. Add sealant along the inside edges where the gutter and endcap meet. Use a generous amount of sealant; no need to be stingy.
Check the packaging for drying times, then flush water through the gutters to test the seal.
Repairing Seams, Joints, and Downspouts
Once you have completed the first two steps it’s now time to apply the sealant. If you have not already, separate the damaged gutter pieces and use a putty knife to scrape off the old sealant and wash away. Apply rubbing or denatured alcohol to the area.
Using steady pressure, squeeze the sealant onto your gutter seams and joints to be repaired. Realign and clamp the parts together. Check the packaging for curing times then flush water through the gutters to test the seal.
Repairing Gaps, Holes, and Cracks
Small gaps, holes, and cracks: Follow steps one and two to prepare your gutters. With steady pressure apply the sealant, fully filling the damaged area. Complete by feathering the sealant to flatten the edges for easy water flow. Check the packaging for curing times then flush the gutters to be sure the leak has been fixed.
Holes larger than a nail hole: Cut a strip of flashing wide enough to fully cover the hole. Apply roofing cement then embed the flashing material into the roofing cement. Be sure the flashing is fully covered with roofing cement. Feather the roofing cement to flatten the edges for easy water flow. Check the packaging for curing times then flush the area with water and verify the hole has been fixed.
Repairing Sagging Gutters
Complete the first two steps. The gutters first need to be cleared and cleaned of all debris and dirt. Be sure to closely inspect the fascia while cleaning your gutters. Any signs of rot could mean your fascia boards need to be replaced. If you’re not sure, call a professional gutter company to inspect your sagging gutters.
Once you’ve determined your boards are clear of rot, remove the brackets or screws holding the section of gutter in place. Reposition the gutter back to the correct angle and reinsert the brackets or screws into the fascia. Be sure to maintain a slope of a quarter inch for every 10 feet to ensure proper drainage.
Squeeze sealant around the hole and then re-tighten any screws directly holding your gutter to the fascia boards. Using sealant around the screw will keep water from seeping through the hole to the fascia boards.
You may need new screws if the old ones are rusted or damaged. Also, replace any rusted or damaged brackets. You may also want to consider installing extra gutter brackets for added reinforcement.
How to Know if You Have Leaky Gutters
It’s fairly easy to spot a gutter leak when you continually see water dripping, but sometimes leaks are more subtle and require closer inspection.
When inspecting your gutters, it’s easy to dismiss peeling paint as a sign you need to paint your siding. While true it could signal it’s time to paint, but take note if it’s peeling in more than one area or if the peeling is localized to one spot. Localized peeling could indicate a gutter leak. There are many other
Leaky Gutter Warning Signs
- Water freely flowing over gutters
- Water in your basement
- Crack in foundation
- Water pooling in gutters
- Sagging gutters
- Pools of water around your home’s exterior
- Bent or cracked gutters
- Corroded siding
- Peeling paint
- Rot or rust
- Excessive water in landscaping
How to Maintain Gutters and Prevent Leaks
You can prevent most gutter problems with just a little maintenance, ultimately saving you time and money. Here’s how:
Clear your gutters one to two times a year, particularly after the fall months. Sticks and leaves are notorious for clogging gutters. It’s important to take the time regularly to rid your gutters of all debris.
Clogs are the easiest gutter issue to prevent but when left untouched can also wreak the most havoc on your gutters. Regularly cleaning your gutters will prevent clogs which ultimately will prevent most other and more expensive gutter issues as well.
Pro Tip: Gutter guards are a great addition to help prevent clogs, particularly if you have a lot of trees around your home.
Get up close and personal with your gutters and thoroughly inspect them. The key is to catch gutter problems while they are still small so they can easily be fixed before they become large, expensive problems.
Be sure to walk the entire perimeter of your home when inspecting your gutters. Look closely for the small issues that may seem like nothing but that you will still want to investigate. Ignoring what seems like a non-problem could cost you big down the road.
Check downspouts to make sure there isn’t anything blocking the water’s path leading away from your home. If you find landscaping or something else keeping the water from freely flowing away, you may need to change the landscaping at the base of the downspout. Ultimately you want the water to freely flow through your gutters, down the downspout, then out and away from your foundation.
Generally, gutters do not need to be painted, but there are certain circumstances where it’s advisable. If you choose to paint your gutters, you will need to eventually repaint your gutters.
Prepare your gutters well and choose a high-quality paint, then the paint should last quite a while. Don’t go cheap. Bad preparation and cheap paint will cause peeling, and your gutters will need to be repainted within a year or two.
If you do decide to paint your gutters but are unsure what color to use, there are a few easy tips to help you decide.
- Match your gutters to your siding. This is a great option if you want your gutters to blend in rather than stand out.
- Match the gutters to your trim. When in doubt, one of the easiest ways to pick a color is by matching your trim. The lines of the gutters and downspout complement the same lines as the trim.
- Use your roof color to match your gutters. Many modern homes don’t have trim, in this case, matching the roof is an easy solution. This can also help your gutters to blend in with the roof.
- Paint your gutters a contrasting color. This is a great way to make a statement and add curb appeal to your home. Choosing a darker color gutter for a light-colored home can add dimension to an otherwise ordinary-looking home.
FAQ About Repairing Leaky Gutters
Most galvanized steel, aluminum, and vinyl gutters should last 20 to 25 years. Copper gutters can last 50-plus years, however, they have a much heftier upfront price tag.
A few small holes or obviously easy fixes are prime for repairing. But excessively rusty gutters and worn or bent gutters are sure signs it’s time for new gutters.
Not necessarily. Fascia only needs to be replaced if it’s rotted. If you are planning to make it a DIY project, be sure to closely inspect the fascia for signs of rot. However, it’s recommended you have a professional gutter company come out and inspect your gutters and fascia.
Ready to get to work?
If you are still finding yourself intimidated by the idea of fixing your gutters, then let us help you find a professional gutter company to come out and evaluate and fix your gutters.