Gutters are an integral part of your home’s stormwater system. Without gutters, rain runs down the roofline creating a waterfall effect. Which can prove quite a problem for entering the home and draining away from the foundation, especially during heavy rains. Luckily, most common gutter problems are easy for homeowners to fix themselves. And it’s worth the effort.
Gutters are designed to do one thing — channel water away from the foundation — and they’re critical to protecting the structural integrity of your house. In order for gutters to do their job properly, they have to be kept in shape and free of debris, holes, and sags.
Here are the 6 most common gutter problems that Green America Home Inspections face, and their recommended solutions.
This is the most common problem of all. Left untended, gutters and downspouts get so clogged with debris that they’re rendered useless. The excess weight of leaves, twigs, and standing water can also make them sag and pull away from the fascia.
We recommend cleaning them at least once a year, and twice a year if you have a lot of trees nearby. Another option for dealing with persistently clogged gutters is to outfit them with gutter covers. Keep in mind, this is not a substitute for maintenance!
Sagging Gutters and Gutters Pulling Away from the House
This is usually a problem with the hangers, the hardware that secures the gutters to the fascia. They or the facia they are attached to might have deteriorated over time, the fasteners may have backed out of the wood, or they’re spaced too far apart to support the weight of full gutters. The cost to fix it yourself is cheap; hangers generally cost $10 or less a piece, and the fasteners run about $1 each.
Leaky gutter joints can be sealed by caulking the joint from the inside with gutter sealant, which typically costs about $5. Very small holes can be filled with gutter sealant, where larger holes will require a patch.
Improperly Pitched Gutters
Gutters need to be pitched toward the downspouts for the water to flow properly. You want at least a quarter inch of slope for every 10 feet. Get on a ladder after a rainstorm and look in the gutter; if there’s standing water, it’s not pitched properly.
To correct this yourself, you’ll need to measure from the peak to the downspout. Snap a chalk line between the two and find the spots where the gutter is out of alignment. You might be able to push it up into place by bending the hanger. If that doesn’t solve the problem, you might need to take a section down and rehang it.
Downspouts Draining Too Close to the Foundation
Downspouts need to extend several feet from the house, or they’ll dump right into the basement. Gutter extensions attached to the bottom of the downspout will discharge water well beyond the foundation. They’re inexpensive and easy to install.
If your house has no gutters at all, consider investing in a system. The cost depends on the material. Most residential gutters are aluminum, which is lightweight and durable.
Fall is the season when gutters are cleaned out in preparation for the rainy or snowy season ahead. If the rainwater doesn’t flow properly through the gutter and downspout system, costly repairs can add up from rainwater damage or freezing. By reading these fast fixes you can prevent costly mistakes and protect your peace of mind.