As a homeowner, you need to perform regular maintenance on your structure. A few of the most commonly seen issues involving the rain gutters on your home include sagging, pooling runoff around your house, and overflowing. If they are left unattended, any of these issues can create serious water damage to your home and the foundation. When clogged gutters are overflowing, the moisture can overflow your gutters and cause them to pool. They can also create leaks in other areas of your home, like roof leaks, and cause a great deal of damage to the interior of your home.
The fixes are fortunately fairly easy to do yourself. Learning how to fix gutters will save you a lot of headaches.
Gutters should not normally leak in any way. If they are, either the installation was bad, or something else is going on that needs your attention right away.
Fixing Leaking Rain Gutters
When your gutters are leaking, the main suspects are the joints in between each section. Eventually, any standing water seeps through the seams in gutters made of aluminum. How do you fix a leaky gutter seam?
You should first check for signs of sagging and standing water. Add or adjust gutter hangers as you need to. Let the insides of the gutters dry out again and brush the seams that were leaking clean of debris. Apply special gutter caulking compound or silicone along each seam on the outside and inside so the leaks are sealed.
Then take roofing cement and patch any small holes. Using a putty knife, generously spread the cement around the holes. Try to choose a warm day to do this. However, if the water is cooler, you can warm up the cement to room temperature so that it more easily spreads.
Use patches to cover and repair any larger holes. Use a sheet-metal patch and embed it into asphalt roofing cement. You can then apply an additional coat of cement over the patch. If you need to remove the roofing cement from tools or your hands, you can do so with a clean rag and vegetable oil.
If the area you live in regularly sees a lot of rainfall, you might want to have your downspout flow down to a dry well which is two to four feet wide and three feet deep. Or, you can choose to use a 55-gallon drum with both the ends removed and then filled with rocks. Bury this and puncture holes into it. Drainage pipes underground need to slope to the dry well, keeping the water away from the foundation of the house. Make sure and check with local codes first before doing this.
Rain Gutters That are Overflowing
Serious problems for the walls and foundation of your home arise if your gutters are overflowing. If they overflow during a heavy rainstorm, the gutters and downspouts either are clogged, the downspouts and gutters are not big enough to handle how much runoff from the rain there is, or the gutters are sagging, therefore preventing water from getting to the downspouts.
Most of the time, debris and leaves are clogging the gutters, causing them to overflow. The debris is essentially making dams which prevents the water from flowing to the proper outlets over the downspouts. These clogs often happen right at the outlets. It is time to clean out your gutters when it happens. Gutter guard can also help stop debris and leaves from entering the gutters.
Rain Gutters That Sag
If your gutters are sagging, this is a whole different issue. The more they fill with water, the more likely they’ll sag since they are so heavy. If not clogged or sagging but your gutters are overflowing, you likely need to install new, bigger gutters and downspouts.
When gutters are full of water and very heavy, the kinds made of flexible materials like vinyl, aluminum and galvanized steel start to sag and bend and loosen their hangers. They stop doing a good job of draining water as this happens, letting it pool along their lengths. This just makes the problem worse, making them heavier and creating even more sagging.
Look for signs of standing water or water marks on the inside of the gutters to check for signs of sagging. Check the slope with a level. Your gutters should drop about one quarter inch for each 100 feet (30.48 m) of run going to the downspouts.
Gutter repair in this instance may require you to replace the hangers or at least reset them. If your gutters are fastened on by spike hangers, a hammer can drive the spike in. You might need a longer galvanized nail or a long screw if it does not securely catch.
Clip-style hangers can be tightened by lifting the roofing material and the eaves and refastening the hangers to the sheathing. You need to be careful here not to make holes in the roofing or crack it.
Loose or Clogged Downspout
Downspouts can break loose from the outlet of the gutter or in between sections. Often, this happens due to elbows in the sections becoming clogged. Take each section apart and clean the debris out. When refastening them, push the sections of downspout and elbows together. If you need, drill plot holes and fasten them with two #8 ¾ inch galvanized sheet metal screws. Longer screws can cause debris to get caught on them. Make sure the anchor straps which hold the downspouts to the wall are secure. Use one or two screws at each joint to fasten the top downspout to the S-curve outlet. This allows for regular cleaning and easy removal.
Pooling Runoff Water
If your downspouts are dumping water at the base of your home’s exterior walls, this can cause serious issues. As the pooling water soaks into the soil, it eventually will work its way into your foundation. It is therefore important to direct the rainwater away from your home.
To do this, the best way is to use a downspout diverter. A simple device, called an automatic recoiling downspout, it fits on the bottom of downspouts. They can unfurl to carry water many feet away from your structure. Another option is to take a 4-inch ABS drainpipe and bury it underground. However, keep in mind it can clog up over time.
Replacing Your Gutters
When your gutters are beyond repair, you need to look at replacing them. New gutters can cost from anywhere between $4 and $30 per linear foot. The range depends on what materials are used, such as copper or aluminum. Most jobs for replacing gutters will cost you between $1,600 and $2,175.
When needed, installing new gutters is an essential step to the health of your home. If you need gutter repairs that are extensive, you might be better off investing in a new gutter system.