8 Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Gutters

A sagging gutter

Are your gutters leaking or developing rust? It might be time to replace your gutters. A simple repair will often solve the issue, but sometimes a complete replacement is necessary. To prevent serious issues like foundation erosion, water damage, and basement flooding, keep an eye out for the 8 signs it’s time to replace your gutters. 

Sagging gutters and functional damage are two other signs that it’s likely time for a new gutter system. There are plenty more, some of which you may not even think of until you take a close look at your gutters. Recognizing the signs can save your home from further damage and costly repairs.

Worker tape measuring and installing a gutter
Photo Credit: MyrKu / Canva Pro / License

1. Rust

One sign that it’s time to replace your gutter system is rust. A little rust on its own doesn’t mean you need a complete overhaul, but if it’s spread across the entire system, or if it pops up frequently, it’s time to look at a gutter replacement. When you replace your gutters, there are a few tips you can follow to help prevent rust in the future:

  • Use the same metal throughout the entire gutter system. Using different metals can lead to galvanic corrosion, which causes rust.
  • If you live in an area with salt-laden sea breezes, get Galvalume or aluminum gutters, as they’re good for resisting corrosion caused by coastal air.
  • Make sure the pitch of the gutters is aligned correctly to avoid standing water, which will cause rust.

2. Functional Damage

Significant damage is a pretty good indicator that your gutter system needs repairs or replacement. Small amounts of damage can usually be repaired, but eventually, there’s a point of no return, and you’ll need to replace the whole thing. 

Replacement is typically more necessary for functional damage than cosmetic damage. Functional damage is any damage that prevents the gutter system from working properly. A hole or large dent that’s creating standing water is functional damage. Cosmetic damage is any damage small enough to be noticeable, but not affect the functionality. Tiny dents caused by hail, for example, are cosmetic damage.

3. Large or Repeated Leaks

gutter leak, repair
Photo Credit: KristianSeptimiusKrogh / Canva Pro / License

Repeated leaks are another pretty good sign that your gutters need replacing. Although any gutter system will leak at some point in its lifetime, large or repeated leaks mean that you’ll need new gutters soon, if not immediately.

Sometimes, a simple fix can repair a gutter leak. Check for clogs if your gutters are experiencing bad leaks. It could be that something is causing blockages that are creating them. Pine needles in particular can cause problems for gutters. If leaks are occurring with no clogs, on the other hand, it’s probably time to replace your gutters.

Pro Tip: Keep an eye on the soil below your gutters. If it’s eroding, or has channels where water has been running through it, it’s a sign that there are leaks you’re not catching. 

4. Soft or Degraded Fascia

The fascia board is the part of your roof that your gutters are attached to. It supports them along with the soffit, and is an important part of both your gutter system and your roof. 

If your fascia or soffit degrade or get soft due to water, your gutters will eventually collapse, which will lead to a much more costly repair than if you had gotten the gutter system replaced in time. Keep a close eye on both your fascia and soffit so that you can catch this sign early and avoid having to deal with a collapsed gutter system.

5. Poor Drainage

Another sign that your gutter system needs replacing is poor drainage. If it’s not draining well, or if it’s overflowing frequently, you may need new gutters. Poor drainage leads to rust, mold, and mildew, which will eventually cause more serious problems. To check the drainage of your gutters, pour water at the end and make sure it’s all coming out of your downspout.

However, poor drainage doesn’t always mean you need to opt for a full replacement. Many resolvable problems can cause poor drainage, such as clogs, misalignment, dents, or minor damage. If you’re still experiencing poor drainage after resolving these issues, it may be time to get new gutters.

If your gutters are draining through your downspout fine, but water is still regularly overflowing out the top, then you definitely need to replace your gutter system. This is a sign that your gutters are too small and can’t handle the amount of water they’re getting. Upgrade to a larger, stronger gutter system to avoid serious problems down the line.

6. Sagging Gutters

Photo Credit: Ben Baligad / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

If your gutters are sagging, then you might need to replace them. It’s a sign that the fasteners holding them to the roof are coming off, which will eventually lead to collapse. You can re-fasten them, but you can only do it so many times before replacing the gutter system becomes necessary. You’ll also want to take a good look at your fascia board if you’re replacing your gutters due to heavy sagging, as it may have been due to it rotting or otherwise deteriorating.

Your gutters may also be sagging because they’re weighed down by debris or standing water. If they still sag after being cleaned out, you likely have a problem. When you replace your gutters after they sag, you can mitigate further problems in the future by getting them made out of a lighter metal, such as aluminum.

7. Foundation Problems

Another sign that your gutters need replacing is your home’s foundation. If it’s experiencing erosion or other issues, your gutters may very well be the cause. The same can be said if your basement is flooding. If you can’t find the source, then look to your gutters. You may find that water is leaking from them into your basement or foundation. If that’s the case, you likely need a new gutter system as soon as possible.  

8. Falling Apart

broken gutter on a roof
Photo Credit: SBSArtDept / Canva Pro / License

Possibly the biggest sign that your gutters are wearing out and need to be replaced is finding random gutter parts, such as bolts or fasteners, on the ground below the system. This is a sign that your gutter system is literally falling apart at the seams. 

Take a close look at your gutter system and all of the bolts, nails, and other small parts holding it in place. If you notice some are missing, you might need new gutters. While you can fix a few loose nails or broken fasteners, a great deal of them, especially in a short period of time, are a red flag that you need to replace your gutter system.

FAQ About Gutters

Should I replace my gutters if I get a new roof?

If the gutters are new or in good condition, then no. If your gutter system needs replacing, and you know that you’ll be getting a new roof soon, then you can wait to do the replacement until work starts on your roof replacement. 

Your gutters also might not meet the needs of the new roof. If you get a metal roof, for example, you’ll likely need different gutters if you previously had a shingle roof. If your new roof has new needs, then you’ll need a new set of gutters to go with it.

How can I keep my gutters from wearing out?

Unfortunately, time takes its toll on everything, and gutters are no different. There’s no way to completely keep your gutters from wearing out over time, but there are ways you can slow the process and extend the life of your gutter system

Proper maintenance and cleaning can go a long way towards protecting your gutters.  
Applying paint or another sealant can protect the metal and prevent rust or mold.
Install gutter guards to reduce the chance of blockages.

Do seamless gutters last longer than regular ones?

Usually, yes. A seamless gutter system can last for over 20 years, which is typically the maximum lifespan of a traditional sectional gutter system. Assuming you’re keeping on top of maintenance, and barring any unfortunate accidents, a seamless gutter system should last longer than a regular one.

Turn to the Pros

To recap, there are a myriad of signs that your gutter system may be nearing the end of its lifespan. Recognizing them can help prevent all kinds of home issues related to their failure, saving you a mint in the process.

If you have issues with your gutters, contact your local gutter professionals. Experts near you are ready to help with your home care and outdoor needs.

Main Photo Credit: SBSArtDept / Canva Pro / License

Austin Geiger

Austin Geiger is a writer who's passionate about home care. He enjoys writing about home maintenance practices, as well as projects to turn an outdoor space into a backyard paradise.


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