Gutter repairs, when done right, will prolong the life of your gutters. A well-maintained gutter can last decades, happily carrying water away from your home and foundation with little fuss.
But what about the opposite scenario? What about when gutters fail? When gutters fail to keep water away from your home, expensive foundation damage results. Water rots fascia, cracks foundation, warps siding, and heaves driveways. Water damage can also encourage mold growth, as well as provide an access point from termites and other pests. Terrible stuff, right?
So what better way to show your home your love than by repairing your rain gutters and downspouts? Below we offer our best (and simplest!) solutions to all the types of damage your gutters will sustain.
Gutter Repairs 101
Before anything else:
Many of our suggestions will require a ladder and some basic tools. We found this article particularly helpful when purchasing a ladder. Oh, and while you’re looking into ladders, consider investing in a ladder standoff. Gutters are fragile things, and they do not take to being squashed by a ladder supporting your full bodyweight (no matter how thin you are). A ladder standoff will allow you to displace the weight onto the roof, instead of unnecessarily straining the gutter.
Before hopping straight into making gutter repairs, make sure your gutters are clean of debris. Clogged gutters exhibit many of the same symptoms as the problems discussed below. If unclogging your gutters doesn’t solve your problem, it’s still a great first step. Repairs can’t be made on dirty gutters!
Now that you’ve ruled out gutter clogging as your problem, you’ve gotta get out there and take a second look (we’d recommend doing this at least once when it’s raining – grab that umbrella!). Look for the following:
- sagging gutters
- gutters leaning away from your home
- water marks underneath your gutters
- pooling water, in the gutters or on the ground
- mildew around the foundation
- water flowing behind the gutter
Once you’ve identified your symptoms, see what category you fall into below. We’ve got some gutter repairs to make!
My gutters are off-slope or drooping:
A poorly sloped gutter will encourage water to pool, leading to rust. A wonky slope can typically be remedied with a few tactically placed gutter supports. Consider repositioning existing supports to encourage water to flow towards your downspouts. The rule of thumb is: 1” of fall for 8’ of length. If the gutter exceeds 35’, the gutter should be installed so it drains from the center of the gutter out to the downspouts.
Dipping gutters is another common problem in the world of gutter repairs. Like off-slope gutters, the solution is repositioning gutter supports at the site of the dip to remove it.
My downspouts aren’t looking too hot:
Heavy wind and rain can loosen downspouts. If you’re already readjusting gutter supports, why not take a rivet tool and reattach your downspout supports to your home? Rivet tools are inexpensive, usually around 20 dollars. Also, be sure you’re keeping water far enough from your home! Rule of thumb says water should be kept at least 5 feet from the foundation. Downspout extensions and splash blocks are great, inexpensive solutions to this problem.
My gutters are cracking and developing holes:
Gutters, especially lower quality gutters, tend to develop holes over the years. To replace or repair: the choice is yours. We know it’s not always economic to replace them, so we suggest roofing cement, which makes quick work of holes. As long as the gutter is clean and the hole is pin-sized, just layer that stuff on. Is the hole too big to seal? You need flashing. Flashing is inexpensive, and can be cut easily with tin snips. Apply plastic roofing cement first, then embed appropriately cut flashing into the cement to cover the rest of the hole. Push the excess cement over the flashing, then apply a layer of cement on top of that.
Age also tends to crack the caulking at gutter seams (caulk usually holds its own for about a decade). Old caulking can be chiseled away with a chisel (what else) or sliced with a utility knife and pulled off with needle-nosed pliers, but this job is made significantly easier with the aid of caulk remover. The de-caulked area should be washed with ammonia, and, once dry, silicone caulk should be reapplied. This will protect against water leakage and fascia board rot.
My gutters are rusting:
Aluminum and vinyl gutters are the modern standard, and neither material rusts. If you’re not lucky enough to have newer gutters and you find your old gutters rusting, sand the rust away, prime the area, then paint with a good quality rust-inhibiting paint. But honestly, it’s probably time to buy a new batch of gutters.
How often should you run down this list? The reliable folks over at the National Foundation Repair Association recommend taking care of your gutters twice a year: once in the spring, once in the fall. But tending to your gutters doesn’t just mean keeping them damage-free – it also means keeping them debris-free. And that means climbing on ladders, sticking your fists in organic goop, and running around the second story roof. Wouldn’t your life be less complicated if you could skip out on gutter cleaning for good? You may want to consider MasterShield. MasterShield is so effective at keeping debris out while allowing rainwater in, we guarantee your gutters will never clog again. We’re so confident in our product, we offer the best warranty in the industry.
Take good care of your gutters, and your gutters will take good care of you.