Repair or replace gutters
Gutters systems can last 20-30 years, but that doesn't mean they'll never need repairs. The first step to extending the life of your gutters is regular gutter cleaning. But let’s suppose you already have damaged gutters. While many problems can be repaired, sometimes you just need to go ahead and replace your gutters.
The main factor in determining whether to repair or replace your gutters will be extent of damage. If you only have one or two trouble spots, they should be easy to fix, but if multiple sections of your gutters are giving you problems or you have tried repairing a problem before and it keeps coming back, you should save yourself the headache and replace your gutters.
If you don’t feel comfortable making the call yourself, you can call out a reputable professional to look at your gutters and give you an assessment. Be warned, while companies that install new gutters often also make small repairs on existing gutters, you should expect to hear a sales pitch arguing that new gutters are the way to go.
If you are confident you just want your gutters repaired, make several calls and get multiple estimates. This can also be a good job for a handyman, who may be more likely to give you a good price than someone who is motivated to sell you a new system. be sure to check both categories "gutter repair" and "handyman."
Common gutter problems
Gutters are relatively simple in design and so there are just a few major ways they can fail. These are the most likely causes for gutter damage and how to repair them.
1. Blockage. Your gutters can be clogged with debris such as build up from natural materials like leaves or from unnatural materials like tennis balls. If you notice water marks under your gutters or pooling water and mildew near your foundation, your gutters are probably overflowing and simply need cleaned out. Don’t just think horizontal here. Your downspout can also be blocked.
2. Sag. If you notice your gutters leaning down or pulling away from the house, you need to act quickly to avoid rotting fascia board and total gutter collapse. The reason for your gutter sag is most likely the result of a broken hanger or spike. Inspect the problem area and replace broken hardware as necessary. You can purchase screw-in spikes instead of hammer-in to help with spike holes that have become worn and loose.
Your gutter might also be sagging due to excess weight from debris that needs cleaned out, ice expansion over the winter or from undue stress such as leaning a ladder on your gutters, which you should never do. If there is permanent warping, you may need to replace that section of gutter, if not your whole system depending on the extent of the damage.
3. Leaks. If your gutters are not blocked and water is still escaping, you have a leak. A leak sometimes opens at the joints between sections of gutter, which can simply be resealed. Other times a leak develops through a crack in the gutters from corrosion or other damage. You can patch these leaks, but once a weak spot is established, it will likely be a recurring problem.
4. Poor pitch. Gutters are meant to have an imperceptible slope towards the downspout, about 1/8 or 1/16 inch per foot, to keep water flowing. If water is pooling in your gutters when there is no blockage, your gutters are probably improperly pitched. This could have happened during a poorly done gutter installation or can be the result of a house settling. This problem may be hard to identify, but it’s important to address as pooling water can lead to corrosion or provide a breeding ground for pests such as mosquitos.
Gutter pitch adjustment is delicate work as you must maintain a precise angle, in a straight line, over long stretches of gutter. This repair can be done by the homeowner, but it’s also a good job to hire a handyman for to be sure the job gets done correctly and the problem gets fixed.