It’s easy to forget about gutter repair until the first heavy rains of Spring.
With that first storm, any problems with your gutters will be quite apparent. Unless you are an experienced handyperson, this would be a great time to schedule a gutter repair.
Even if you have gutter leaf protection, airborne debris and seeds will still enter the gutter system so you should check and clean out your gutters at least twice a year.
The most important time to do a good gutter cleaning is late in the fall after the trees have shed their leaves.
Gutter repair is often necessary when gutters haven’t been cleaned in a long time. The weight of the debris can causes gutters to sag, leading to leaks.
Heavy-duty expanded metal gutter leaf screens are the best leaf protection in my opinion and are great at stopping leaves and twigs from entering your gutters. These screens make it easy to inspect your gutters.
Once in a while, debris such as pine needles may need to be manually cleaned off.
If your gutters do not drain properly, check the gutter slope by spraying water into them with a garden hose. The water should flow smoothly towards the downspout.
If it just sits there, the gutter needs to be adjusted. The gutter should be adjusted to remove any high or low spots that prevent the flow of water towards the downspout.
If any single length of the gutter is more than 30′ long, it should be installed to drain in both directions from the center and have downspouts installed on each end.
A gutter installed level will drain because of water levels themselves, however, you will not have any water flow to self-clean the gutter. Too much slope does not look good and you will lose some of the gutter holding capacity.
After the gutters are clean, perform a gutter inspection, checking for any possible gutter repairs such as holes, dents, or missing gutter sealer. Check for loose, bent, or missing gutter hangers or spikes.
Gutters that are installed with spike and ferrules will become loose over time.
The expansion and contraction of the gutters due to temperature changes between summer and winter will loosen the spikes or (nails). You may be familiar with these large nails that need to be pounded back in every year.
Gutters that are not properly secured to the house, ie: improper gutter screws or gutters attached to rotten wood, will eventually not support their weight.
If you have a clogged downspout, run a garden hose down from the top of the downspout, turn the water on full blast and hopefully, the clog will be cleared. If this does not work, try using a plumbers snake.
If all this fails to remove the clog, the downspout will have to be removed and taken apart to find the clog. Usually, the clog will be in one of the elbows. I have found all sorts of things in downspouts, like toys and golf balls.
Inspect downspouts and lower elbows for loose connections or damage. The lower downspout elbow occasionally becomes damaged from lawn equipment or animals.
Always be sure to disconnect your downspouts from underground drain lines before flushing them out.
Water should be discharged from the downspout at a minimum of 5 feet from the foundation by the means of splash blocks, downspout extensions, or underground drainage.
This would also be a good time to check the splash blocks. They need to be re-leveled once in a while. Over time, they tend to sink into the ground. Just dig them out, repack the dirt, and lay them back down.
Also, the water runoff path from the blocks should be kept clear of obstructions like leaves or twigs to keep the water flowing away from your foundation.
Of all the gutter repair jobs that need to be done, painting aluminum gutters may be the hardest.
To make matters worse, if you don’t do the job right, you will probably find that you need to re-paint your gutters and downspouts long before you have to paint your house again.
The two things most people get wrong when painting gutters are choosing the wrong type of paint/primer and not preparing the surface properly before painting.
Painting galvanized steel gutters seems to be a challenging task for most people. The real secret to painting galvanized steel is the surface preparation of the galvanized surface.
Paint peeling is common to galvanized steel gutters. The problem usually exists because unsuitable paint was used for the original coat on the gutters and downspouts.
Gutter Damage From Ice And Snow
Another gutter repair problem, much more common in the northern United States is damage from snow and ice. An ice dam will form when melted snow refreezes at the roof edges.
Contrary to popular belief, gutters do not cause ice dams. However, gutters do help concentrate ice and water in a very vulnerable area. As gutters fill with ice, they often bend and rip away from the house.
Gutters installed on homes or buildings with metal roofs are especially vulnerable to damage from snow accumulation.
As the temperature warms up, large chunks of snow can slide off the roof, resulting in sometimes severe gutter damage.
Rooftop devices called snow guards can help prevent these snow slides by allowing the snow to melt completely or drop off in small amounts.
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Check For Signs Of A Problem
The best way to see if you need any gutter repairs is to observe your gutters during heavy rain. Make sure all of your downspouts are flowing properly. Check to see if water is overflowing from the top of the gutter.
If your gutters are filling up faster than they are draining out, you either have a blockage or not enough downspouts.
Check for water leaking from behind the gutter, this would be an indication that the back of the gutters was not installed under the drip edge flange.
You also need to look for leaks at the corners and end caps to see if they are sealed properly.
If you discover bent gutter hangers that are tightly screwed to the structure, is a good indication that there has been excessive weight in the gutter.
Most likely from ice or snow, or a major clog, allowing the gutter to hold water.
Neglecting rain gutter repair will result in costly repairs of the soffit and fascia. Peeling paint or wood rot is a good indication that water is overflowing the gutters in that area.
Splash guards must be installed at all the inside corners or anywhere two roof lines meet to form a valley. These splash guards keep the water from overshooting your gutter at the roof valley.
Gutter Repair Safety
Of all the household chores that we do, probably none is as dangerous as gutter repair and cleaning. If you decide to take on the job of cleaning your gutters, please follow these safety rules:
Be careful! Keep ladders, tools, and yourself a minimum of ten feet away from overhead power lines. Plan your gutter cleaning when someone else is at home or let a neighbor know what you are doing.
A step ladder requires level ground support on all four of its side rails. Make sure your step ladder is spread fully open and the spreaders are locked.
To prevent tipping the ladder over sideways, due to overreaching, the ladder should be set up close to the work. Use ladder accessories like stand-offs and leg levelers on extension ladders.
Never place your ladder on any other unstable base to obtain additional height. Do not stand higher than the step indicated on the label marking the highest standing level.
Always have three points of contact with the ladder. That means two feet and one hand or two hands and one foot.
You can prevent needless gutter repairs by never resting your ladder on the gutter!
While performing gutter repairs, you should always wear gloves to prevent being cut by sharp metal edges, also moist and rotten debris are good places for bacteria to grow.
It is always a good idea to wear a dust mask while cleaning out your gutters, especially if you have allergy problems. when you disrupt the gutter debris, you also disrupt a lot of dust particles and mold spores.