No one likes sagging, no matter what it’s in reference to. But when it comes to rain gutters, sagging isn’t just unpleasant to look at. A sagging gutter may not work at all, causing problems that range from overflow to worrisome pooling around the foundation of your house.
If this is a problem, you may need to call in a pro, but if you have some rudimentary DIY skills, a little time and the know-how to fix sagging gutters, you can tackle this project yourself on the cheap.
Step-by-Step Guide to Fixing the Sag
Before you start, be sure you have inspected your fascia for any signs of rot or other damage. Damaged fascia may be too weak to hold up your gutters and may need to be replaced before you go any further. Contact a professional gutter company if you are unsure.
Supplies you’ll need:
- Replacement gutter pieces if needed
- Replacement fasteners
- Putty knife
- Garden hose
- Power drill (recommended) or screwdriver
- A helper (recommended)
- Weatherproof caulk
First thing’s first: A clean gutter is a must. Pull out a ladder, bucket, and a pair of work gloves and scoop out large debris such as leaves and sticks. Use a putty knife if you have any stubborn, caked-on areas.
It’s also a good idea to inspect your rain gutters for any signs of damage. Use a garden hose and run water through your gutters to check for leaks. Repair any gutter leaks or other problems you discover.
2. Mark Your Slope
A sagging gutter is a misaligned gutter, and a misaligned gutter doesn’t drain efficiently. It’s critical that gutters slope ever so slightly toward the downspouts so that rainwater drains downhill. Mark the new alignment of the gutter with a chalk line. Remember to slope your chalk line toward the downspout a quarter inch to a half inch for every 10 feet. This provides enough of an angle to keep water flowing through your gutters, to the downspout.
To create a chalk line, have a helper hold one end of the line or tie the line to a nail. Pull the line tight and snap it against the fascia.
3. Remove Old Fasteners
You’ll need to know what kind of fasteners are currently holding up your gutters so you know the best way to remove the fasteners.
Spikes and ferrules
A screwdriver or hammer can be used to pry spikes and ferrules free. But beware that using a hammer alone may crush or dent your metal gutters. It’s best to insert a block of wood snugly into your gutter opening to keep it from bending under the force. Then place the hammer against the part of the gutter with the block inside so you are using the area reinforced by the wood for leverage when prying out the spike.
Remove and replace one hanger before moving on to the next hanger.
Use your power drill to unscrew the hanger and pull the screw straight out, then unhook the hanger from the gutter. Be sure either you or your helper has a good grip as you unscrew the gutter.
Note: Most hangers come with screws so don’t worry about saving the screws, you can toss them out along with the old brackets and start fresh with all new screws and hangers.
Work on one sagging section of the gutter at a time if you have multiple areas sagging. Have a helper on another ladder hold the gutter steady while you remove the brackets.
Take the top lip of the bracket and pull it free from the gutter by pulling it toward you till it comes free. Continue this process until the gutter is free from all brackets. Then you and your helper can slowly lower the gutter to the ground in unison.
Use your power drill to remove the bracket screws and brackets. Use weatherproof caulk to fill the holes in the fascia and let them dry.
4. Replace with New Fasteners
When replacing your gutter hangers, keep in mind they will need to be driven through the fascia and into the rafters. This is important because the rafters are the strongest point.
Be sure to place a hanger at each rafter location 16 inches apart. If the rafters are not visible from the underside, look for nail heads in the fascia to indicate the locations of the rafters.
Spikes and ferrules
When replacing spikes and ferrules, be sure to purchase gutter spikes with at least 2 inches of threading on the end. This gives them greater penetration into the fascia, ensuring a firm hold.
Feed the spike through the hole in the front of the gutter then through the ferrule inside the gutter and align it with the hole in the back of the gutter. Use a screwdriver or power drill to screw the spike into the fascia. Note: Be careful not to overtighten or you could damage the gutter.
Begin by hooking the front of the hanger under the lip of the front of the gutter and slip it over the back edge of the gutter. Adjust the back edge so it is aligned with the chalk line and use your power drill to drive the screw into the fascia board and rafter. Then move on to the next hanger.
Tip: Be careful not to overtighten the screw. The gutter should be able to flex slightly to account for expansion and contraction as the temperature changes.
Drill new holes into your fascia board about a half inch to the left or right of the old holes. Use your power drill to screw the new brackets into the new holes. Note: Make sure to purchase brackets that match your old brackets.
Along with your helper, rehang your gutters. Position the back of your gutter under the lip of the roof and push the front straight down into the bracket until it snaps on. Be careful not to push it too hard or you could risk damaging the gutter or brackets.
Why Sagging Gutters Are a Problem
Sagging gutters can be unsightly, but they can also lead to some rather large and expensive problems if they are not remedied timely.
Gutter sag changes the slope that carries water through the gutters to the downspouts and away from your home.
A change in slope can cause water to pool and lead to a leaky gutter. Water that is not funneled away from your home can ultimately lead to very costly cracks in your foundation.
Problems caused by sagging gutters
- Roof damage and wood rot
- Ruined siding, soffits, and fascia
- Flooded basement
- Mosquito infestation
- Damaged siding
- Cracked driveways
- Stains on siding
- Soil erosion
- Cracks in foundation
Causes of Sagging Gutters
Sagging gutters can be brought on by a range of situations. Many of these conditions can be easily prevented with just a little bit of regular maintenance. Take time one to two times a year to clean your gutters and to make sure they are clear of anything that could hinder water from freely flowing.
The best way to prevent weather-related problems is to regularly clean your gutters. We recommend twice a year. This will eliminate clogs that could inhibit rain or melting snow and ice from freely flowing through your gutters and away from your foundation.
Snow and Ice
In cold climates, the weight of snow and ice accumulating on your gutters throughout the winter can cause them to sag. Be sure to keep an eye out for large icicles hanging from your gutters after an ice storm as these can seriously weigh down gutters.
In regions prone to driving rain storms, this can put immense strain on your gutter system which can lead to sags.
Naturally, time is the enemy of all things. Over time, your gutters will begin to show their age and sagging is often one of those signs.
Generally, you should expect galvanized steel, aluminum, and vinyl gutters to last 20 to 25 years. Copper gutters are much more expensive but can last 50-plus years.
Debris in a gutter will become wet, mucky and heavy. Sagging can also happen when debris blocks water from freely flowing through your gutters and pools in a specific area weighing it down.
Clogs are the easiest gutter problem to prevent, but when left untouched they 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.
Clean 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.
Pro Tip: Gutter guards are a great addition to help prevent clogs, particularly if you have a lot of trees around your home.
No matter how your gutters are attached to your home, over time they can become loose and need to be reattached. Low-quality hardware or poorly installed gutters is sometimes to blame for premature sagging.
Be sure to choose high-quality hardware for the best possible outcome and carefully follow instructions when installing.
Gutters need to have a slope of a quarter inch to a half inch every 10 feet to keep the water properly flowing toward the downspouts and away from your foundation. Without the proper slope, debris can accumulate and water can pool.
If water is unable to freely flow through the gutters, this can weigh down gutters causing them to sag. Pooling water can also cause leaks in your gutter system creating more problems. You can combat this problem with regular cleaning and inspections.
Use gutter hangers that are the same material as your gutter system to prevent corrosion. For example, aluminum gutters should have hangers also made from aluminum. Using two different types of metal can result in galvanic corrosion which is what happens when different types of metals come in contact with water.
A few small holes or obviously easy fixes are prime for repairing. But excessively rusty 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’ve decided it’s time to make those saggy gutters level but think it’s a bit much for you, then let us connect you with a professional gutter company that will have your droopy gutters back up where they belong in no time.