One moment, the sun is shining, and the next, a downpour is testing the very limits of your home’s defenses. At the forefront of this battle? Your gutters.
Ever notice how clogged gutters can turn a simple rain shower into a waterfall display on the side of your house? Or how sagging gutters seem to collect more rainwater than they drain?
These are just a couple of common gutter problems that homeowners face. And Lee Company is here to guide you through seven gutter issues and their DIY fixes. Come rain or shine, you’ll be able to keep your gutters flowing and your home protected from water damage.
If there’s any gutter problem that homeowners are familiar with, it’s clogging. Leaves, twigs, debris, and the occasional stray ball can all find their way into your gutters and cause a blockage. When this happens, water can’t flow freely through the gutters and downspouts, leading to overflowing gutters and potential water damage on your siding, foundation, and landscaping.
Tips for Preventing Clogged Gutters
The easiest way to sidestep clogged gutters is through regular maintenance. This means checking and cleaning your gutters at least twice a year – once in the spring and again in the fall.
Keeping trees trimmed back from your roof can help keep those beautiful autumn leaves from clogging your gutters. And if you have a lot of trees on your property, consider installing gutter guards to keep things out while still allowing water to flow.
How To Unclog a Gutter
If you notice water overflowing from your gutters, it’s time to get up on a ladder and clear out the blockage. A small hand shovel or a garden trowel can work wonders for scooping out debris. Make sure to wear gloves and protective eyewear, as gutters can be a breeding ground for bacteria and other nasties.
Once the majority of the debris is cleared, flush out your gutters with a garden hose to ensure all the small bits are washed away. If you’re not comfortable getting up on a ladder or have multiple-story gutters, consider hiring a professional gutter cleaning service.
How to Unclog a Downspout
If your gutters seem to be flowing better, but your downspouts are still clogged, use a plumber’s snake and a hose to clear out the blockage:
- Work the end of the plumber’s snake into the downspout from the bottom up.
- Once you reach the blockage, twist and push until it breaks apart or comes out.
- Flush with water to make sure the clog is removed, and water is flowing freely.
If you care about curb appeal and the structural integrity of your home, sagging gutters are a problem you’ll definitely want to address. This common gutter problem occurs when gutters pull away from the house, creating gaps and preventing proper water flow. This can damage your siding, fascia, and even your foundation.
How to Fix Sagging Gutters
First, assess the damage. If your gutters are only slightly sagging, you may be able to fix them yourself by tightening loose screws or replacing brackets. But if the damage is more severe, you may need to call in a professional to reposition or replace your gutters.
If you’re up for the challenge, here are some additional steps for fixing sagging gutters:
- Identify the cause, such as debris build-up or damaged gutter spikes.
- Ensure ladder safety before inspection or repairs.
- Inspect the fascia board for loose or damaged parts.
- Clean out all debris from the gutters.
- Fix or replace any loose or damaged gutter spikes.
- Install or replace gutter screws as needed.
- Repair or replace any damaged gutter brackets.
- Test for proper water flow and make any adjustments as necessary.
Keep in mind that rain gutters need to slope downward toward the downspout for proper draining. The best angle for gutters is around 1/3-1/2 inch per 10 feet of gutter. This is known as the gutter pitch.
What’s a little drip, drip, drip from your gutters when it’s already raining? No big deal, right? Well, if left untreated, that small leak can turn into a bigger problem in no time. Leaky gutters can result in water seepage into the basement, foundation damage, and the growth of mold and mildew.
A gutter’s job is to channel water away from your home, not into it. So if you spot leaking gutters, don’t ignore them.
Tips for Preventing Leaking Gutters
Leaking gutters are often caused by clogs or damage. So the easiest way to prevent them is by regularly cleaning and maintaining your gutters. Additionally, make sure to check for any damage or holes in the gutters themselves and then repair or replace them as needed.
How to Fix Leaking Gutters
If you’ve spotted a leak in your gutters, the first step is to pinpoint the source. Check for any holes, cracks, or disconnected joints in your gutters and downspouts. If it’s a small hole, you can use silicone caulk to seal it up. For larger holes or damage, patching will be necessary.
- For rust and corrosion: sand down the affected area. Apply a rust-inhibiting primer and use an adhesive patch or sealant specifically designed for metal gutters.
- For holes: clean out any debris and use a patch kit with roofing adhesive to seal the hole.
- For disconnected joints: Make sure the gutter is properly aligned. Reattach with screws and apply silicone caulk for added reinforcement.
For any repairs above that use adhesive, make sure the gutter is dry before applying and allow ample time for it to dry before testing for leaks.
A stormy night is the perfect time to curl up with a good book and listen to the soothing sound of raindrops. But if that relaxing sound turns into a loud waterfall coming from your gutters, there’s definitely an issue. Overflowing gutters can lead to water damage, erosion, and even foundation issues.
Overflowing gutters are usually caused by clogs or improper gutter pitch. If your gutters aren’t sloped correctly, water will collect and eventually overflow. And if your gutters are already full of debris, the problem is only exacerbated.
How to Fix Overflowing Gutters
To fix overflowing gutters, follow the same steps as unclogging and cleaning out your gutters. Additionally, make sure to check for proper gutter pitch and adjust if necessary. Installing gutter guards can also be a helpful preventative measure to avoid clogs and overflowing gutters in the future.
Gutter Pitch Issues
We’ve already briefly discussed gutter pitch, but it deserves its own section. To clarify further, gutter pitch is the angle at which your gutters are slanted. This is important because if your gutters aren’t pitched correctly, water will not flow properly.
Gutter pitch problems can cause many of the common gutter issues we’ve already discussed, including clogs, overflowing gutters, and water damage. So if you’re experiencing those problems, you’ll want to make sure your gutter pitch is at the recommended 1/4-1/2 inch per 10 feet.
How to Adjust Gutter Slope
- Gather Your Tools: You’ll need a ladder, a level, a measuring tape, and a marker.
- Safety First: Ensure the ladder is on stable ground and always maintain three points of contact while climbing.
- Measure the Gutter Length: Extend your measuring tape along the gutter from one end to the other to determine its total length.
- Check the Current Slope: Place your level on the bottom of the gutter. The bubble should be slightly off-center towards the downspout. If it’s not, adjustments are needed.
- Calculate the Desired Slope: For every 10 feet of gutter, there should be a 1/4 to 1/2 inch drop towards the downspout. To find the total drop needed, multiply the gutter length by 0.025 to 0.05.
- Mark the High and Low Points: Mark the high end of the gutter and the low end where the downspout is. The difference in height between these two marks should equal the calculated total drop.
- Adjust the Gutter Hangers: Loosen the screws on the gutter hangers at the high end. Adjust the gutter so that it slopes down towards the downspout, then retighten the screws.
- Recheck with Level: Place your level back on the bottom of the gutter to ensure the bubble is now slightly off-center towards the downspout.
- Test with Water: Pour a bucket of water at the high end of the gutter to ensure it flows smoothly towards the downspout without any pooling.
- Secure Everything: Once you’re satisfied with the slope, make sure all screws and hangers are tightly secured to prevent any future issues.
Rust and Corrosion
Gutters come in all shapes, sizes, and materials, and some are more prone to rust and corrosion than others.
Copper gutters stand out in the home improvement world, not just for their striking appearance but for their resilience against rust. Stainless steel gutters are also a great option for durability.
But the vast majority of gutters are made of aluminum or galvanized steel — and they will rust over time.
Rust and corrosion can weaken your gutters and lead to holes, leaks, and other damage. So once that unsightly orange color starts to appear, it’s time to take action.
Tips for Preventing Rust and Corrosion on Gutters
There are a few simple things you can do to prevent rust and corrosion from taking over your gutters:
- Keep your gutters clean and flowing so water doesn’t have a chance to pool and cause rust.
- Repair any holes or cracks in the gutter as soon as possible.
- Apply a rust-inhibiting primer or coating to protect against future corrosion.
- Apply a rust-inhibiting primer and sealant to metal gutters every few years for added protection.
- Consider investing in copper or stainless steel gutters for long-lasting durability and resistance to rust.
How to Repair Rust and Corrosion on Gutters
Small amounts of gutter rust and corrosion can be fixed with a little elbow grease and the right materials. But if you’re looking at major rust damage, it may be time to replace your gutters altogether.
To repair minor rust and corrosion:
- Use a wire brush to clean the area, removing any loose rust or dirt.
- Once the area is clean, use sandpaper to smooth out any rough patches caused by the rust.
- Apply a rust-inhibiting primer to the affected area according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Depending on the severity of the damage, you may need to use an adhesive patch or sealant specifically designed for metal gutters.
- Once all repairs have been made, apply a coat of rust-inhibiting sealant to the entire gutter for added protection against future rust and corrosion.
Ice Dams in Gutters
Even here in the South, we experience harsh winters and freezing temperatures. And while a blanket of snow can be pretty, it also leads to a common gutter problem — ice dams.
Ice dams occur when snow melts from the warmth of your home’s roof and then refreezes on colder parts of the roof (like the gutters). This can create a blockage that prevents proper drainage and causes water to back up into your roofing system.
Ice dams lead to leaks, water damage, and structural damage to your home. So you’ll want to take precautions to avoid them in the first place, or brave the winter weather to fix them if they do occur.
How to Prevent Ice Dams
One of the first things you can do to prevent ice dams is to make sure your attic is well-insulated and ventilated. This helps keep the roof temperature even so snow won’t melt and refreeze.
Clear your gutters and downspouts before cold snaps arrive to prevent blockages. And after heavy snowfall, use a roof rake to remove snow that accumulates at the edges of your roof.
For an extra layer of protection, consider installing a self-regulating heating cable system in your gutters. This system activates when temperatures drop below freezing, preventing ice from forming and keeping your gutters clear.
Here are some other cold-weather maintenance tasks to protect your home in the winter.
How to Get Rid of Ice Dams in Gutters
If you missed the prevention boat and are now dealing with ice dams in your gutters, you’ll want to tackle them as soon as possible to prevent any damage.
You’ll know you have an ice dam if you:
- See icicles hanging from your gutters.
- See a buildup of ice on the edges of your roof or under the eaves.
- Notice water overflowing from gutters or not flowing properly.
There are a few different ways to get rid of ice dams:
- Use a roof rake to safely remove the snow and ice from your roof and gutters.
- Fill a pantyhose or tube sock with calcium chloride, tie it off, and place it perpendicular to the gutter. The melting salt will create channels for water to escape.
- Use an ice pick or hammer and chisel (carefully!) to break up the ice dam.
- Hire a professional to safely remove the ice dam.
We’ve covered the spectrum of gutter problems and armed you with the knowledge to tackle them head-on. Following a home maintenance checklist can be a great first step, but sometimes, a helping hand from the pros can make all the difference!
Lee Company offers expert handyman services to make sure your gutters are ready for whatever the weather throws their way! Don’t let gutter problems rain on your parade — contact our skilled team for gutter services in Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, and Georgia.
Do you need gutter services?CALL US NOW AT 615.567.1000