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How to Spot and Repair a Broken Gutter

Posted by Kevin Leahy on April 13, 2018

Rain gutters appear very unassuming, to the point where you might forget that they are there, but they have an important job to do: they route the runoff from your roof so it drains away from the house so there is no water damage during or after rainstorms.

Most houses have rain gutters attached to their roofs. Homes with large overhangs that do a similar job might not need them. If you have them though it is important to keep them in good shape and to replace them when they get cracked and corroded and can no longer do their job effective.

The crux of the situation is that when they are doing their job, you hardly know they are there, but when they are clogged or broken then you know they are there because you have many messes to clean up including a leaky roof and saggy gutters.

Here is how to spot and repair a broken gutter before it becomes a big problem:

Inspect and Clean Gutters Regularly

The best way to cut down on any problems with your gutters is to maintain them properly year round. Don’t wait until there is a clog; set up a regular maintenance schedule for either you or a professional gutter cleaning company to check out those gutters and make sure they are clean at least twice a year. If you have a lot of trees hanging over your house or you live in an area that experiences a lot of storms, you might want to do it more often.

If you are nimble on a ladder, then you can do all this yourself. But don’t worry, if heights make you nervous, then you can hire a gutter cleaning company to come out and do it for you.

You also need to inspect them closely for any broken or damaged gutters. Gutter systems endure a lot of wear and tear over the years so it is inevitable that leaks and holes will happen. It is best to stay on top of them before they morph into a bigger problem.

Seal Up Any Leaks

Again, if you are handy, you can fix this yourself. A leaky gutter joint can easily be sealed up with some caulk or roofing cement and small holes may only need some gutter sealant. Simply just use a putty knife to spread the cement or sealant over the whole. It is best to do the repair work on a dry, warm day.

For larger holes though you will need a gutter patching kit that comes with a sheet-metal patch. Just add the patch to the roofing cement and then add another layer of cement. For more complicated jobs, it might be best to hire a professional to do the work for you.

Shore Up Any Sagging Gutters

Unfortunately sometimes the problem cannot be solved with a simple patch job. Sometimes a poorly built gutter system is at fault. If you try to install the gutters yourself and you don’t have a lot of experience or you hire a company that uses a lot of unskilled workers, you make be at risk for poor craftsmanship.

One common mistake made by the uninitiated is installing improperly pitched gutters. The best way to check this is to check the slope with a level. Gutters should be pitched down toward the downspouts with at least a quarter inch of slope for every 10 feet otherwise you will end up with standing water.

Another installation mistake is when the downspouts are put too close the foundation of the house. When this happens the water will end up in your basement. If you don’t want to rip out the downspouts and redo everything, you can attached gutter extensions to the bottom of the downspout to redirect the water from the foundation of your home.

If the joints are the problem, adjust or add gutter hangers as needed. Also brush any leaking seams clean and they are dry, apply a silicone-based caulk to the inside and outside of the seams to seal the leaks.

For more complicates issues, you should replace full segments of the gutter system. If you are going to do all the work yourself, keep some ladder safety practices in mind:

  • Make sure someone not only knows that you are climbing up that ladder, but that someone is on the ground spotting you just in case you have any problems.
  • Always use a sturdy ladder that has a small shelf that can hold a large enough bucket to collect the leaf debris. Secure the bucket to the ladder with a lanyard. Never use an orchard ladder because they only have 3 legs and is not sturdy enough for this type of work.
  • Aluminum and fiberglass ladders are safer choices than wooden ones.
  • Always inspect the ladder for defects or loose parts before using it. Check to make sure that all screws and bolts are fastened tightly.

Preventive Measures Can Help

There are different gutter guards and leaf-catchers that can help make maintaining your gutter system a lot easier. But be careful when choosing one because debris can still settle through them and many of these products are not cheap. If you do decide to get one, make sure it can be easily removed for cleaning.

Another product that can make maintaining your gutter system easier is TheSpoutOff. It is especially helpful if you have small rain gutter outlets because TheSpoutoff outlets are designed with a larger opening allowing for water to still run down even if other parts of the gutter are clogged. Another great plus is that these outlets are easy to keep clean through the removable downspout that allows you to check on the outlets without having to climb a ladder. With TheSpoutOff, a fear of heights or balance concerns will no longer keep you from properly taking care of your home and it is a lot cheaper than hiring a professional cleaner to come regularly to clear out all the debris.

The SpoutOff can be retrofitted to your current gutter system or it can be added to a new one, depending upon your needs. The instructions are relatively easy to follow so it is something you can easily install yourself, but any local gutter company can do it for you as well.

Want to learn more about how TheSpoutOff can make your seasonal outdoor chores a lot easier? Contact TheSpoutOff today to learn how it can take the hassle out of cleaning your gutters.

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