Gutters can often be the most neglected part of your home mainly because people don’t know enough about gutter maintenance.
Gutters have a simple job: they keep water away from your home. Gutters help protect your home from leaks, water damage, and flooding. Thanks to gutters, all of those trinkets and collectibles you stored in your basement are safe and sound.
However, gutters don’t last forever. Over time they can pull away from the house, crack, or potentially rust.
Because gutters are so easily forgotten, many homeowners miss the signs to get them replaced and end up with flooding and water damage near the foundation of their homes.
If you want to avoid all of the damage, which can be costly to fix, then you are in the right place.
For over a decade, Rescue My Roof has been committed to teaching property owners about the best practices for their homes, including gutter maintenance.
We have compiled a list of six issues you may encounter with your gutters to save your home and valuables. By the end of this article, you will know the signs of damage to your home and fix it before it causes irreparable damage.
1. Your Current Gutters Are Not Seamless
Back in the olden days, gutters were put on homes in small strips connected by box miters or pop rivets. Let’s dive into each piece that impacts your gutters:
Box Miters, in simple terms, are pre-manufactured corners.
A box miter conjoins two separate gutter pieces by creating a shell that slides over the two pieces. The two pieces will connect at a 90-degree angle, so they are referred to as manufactured corners.
A pop rivet is a type of bolt that allows two pieces of metal gutters to be attached.
There are two parts of a pop rivet: the rivet body and the mandrel.
The pop rivet will be inserted into the downward side of the gutter and go through both overlapping pieces.
Using a special piece of equipment called a pop rivet gun, the mandrel will be pulled up into the rivet body, causing the body to expand.
Once the expansion has created a water-tight seal, what is left of the mandrel will snap off.
Sectional gutters are put together in multiple pieces using box miters, pop rivets, or a combination of both.
Because these gutters have sections where metal pieces overlap or where holes are made in the metal for the bolts, they are prone to leaks.
Additionally, the pop rivets used during installation will wear out over time, causing additional leak issues.
Once the leaking starts, it can be challenging to fix. So if you notice your gutters are not the industry standard seamless gutters, you’ll want to consider updating them.
2. There Are Leaks Between the Fascia and Gutters
The fascia is a long wooden board that is built into the edge of your roof. The fascia is the space that the gutters lay on top of.
When you get gutters replaced after a roof replacement, an ice and water barrier cannot be placed between the fascia and the gutters. This can lead to leaking issues that can rot out the fascia and decking of your roof.
If your roof and gutters were replaced simultaneously, they could still wear down over time. As the years pass, the likelihood of leaks increases.
Water damage in any area of your roof is dangerous and can lead to further complications that are harder to fix. So if you notice water leaking in-between the fascia and gutters, it’s time for a replacement.
3. Your Gutters Are Undersized
Have you ever noticed that your gutters tend to overflow every time it rains?
There are two causes for this:
There is a blockage in your gutters like debris, or maybe that frisbee you lost two years ago.
Your gutters are smaller than the industry standard and are not designed to handle heavy rains.
Older houses tend to have gutters that are 4 inches wide, with 3-inch downspouts. These are not able to hold a high quantity of rain and can overflow easily.
Overflowing gutters can lead to water pooling at the foundation of your home. And if you’re not careful, it can leak into your basement or damage the foundation.
The industry standard nowadays for gutter size is 5-inch gutters with 4-inch downspouts. With only an inch increase, they are much more capable of handling heavy rains and decreasing the likelihood of water damage.
If you already know you have an issue with overflowing gutters or haven’t had an update to the gutters within the last decade, it’s time to get those inspected. It may turn out that you need to upgrade.
4. Your Gutters Are Beginning to Rust
Rusting gutters doesn’t happen very often. But when it does, you’ll want to be prepared to get new ones.
Many houses today are equipped with newer aluminum gutters. Aluminum gutters cannot rust and can last the lifetime of the home.
Older, steel gutters can rust.
Rust is a chemical reaction that occurs when oxygen, water, and metals like steel and iron interact. Rust eats away at the metal, compromising your gutter system.
Over time, what may appear as minor rust damage can become holes in your gutters, leading to leaks.
Depending on the extent of the damage, rust can be repaired. A professional can clean the rusted area of all debris, and coat the area in a metal primer. The coating will delay any further rust damage.
However, if the rust begins to create holes in your gutters, that is not so easily repaired. Check in with a local roofing professional to see if the damage can be repaired or if you will need to replace the gutters.
5. Gutters Older than 25-35 Years
As with most things concerning your roof, gutters need to be maintained.
If the gutters are not maintained properly with seasonal cleaning and repairs, their effectiveness can decline with age.
Even with proper maintenance, there will come a time when a replacement is necessary. Even if you are told they last the lifetime of a home, a “lifetime” in the roofing industry is considered only 50 years.
If you are starting to notice signs of age or know your gutters are older than 25-35 years, get them inspected.
6. Your gutters are cracked
Just like rust, cracks don’t happen often. But it’s not impossible.
All metals expand and contract with temperature changes. Over time, the metals will weaken, and the expansion and contraction could lead to cracking.
Cracking could also be caused by ice in the winter. While metals expand and contract, so does ice. When the water freezes in the gutters, it expands, making minor cracks turn into major ones.
If your gutters are cracked, water can escape and pool at the base of your home, rendering the gutters ineffective.
Are your gutters cracked? It’s time to take action. Call in a professional to get an estimate on a replacement.
The Next Step: Getting An Estimate
Water damage to your home is a serious issue – however, it is not unavoidable. Keeping an eye out for issues like cracks, leaks, rust, and signs of age can keep your gutter system running smoothly and your home safe.