You probably don’t spend your days thinking about the health of your gutters. If you’re like most people, you don’t think about them at all! Unless, of course, something goes wrong. So why are gutters so important, and why should you pay attention to them?
Gutters serve one main purpose; to channel water away from the foundation of your home. Obviously, it’s important to keep your foundation in good shape, since that’s literally what is holding up your entire home. In order to keep water away from the foundation, your gutters need to be kept in good condition. That’s a pretty good reason to make sure they’re in good condition.
Prevent Damage with Proper Gutter Maintenance
Don’t worry. Keeping your gutters clean and free of debris isn’t all that hard. You don’t have to watch them every day to spot problems. All it takes is sticking to a schedule of regular maintenance. That means not just letting them sit month after month. If you commit to regular yearly maintenance, you’ll ensure that your gutters will last for many years to come.
1. Gutters not Draining or Clogged Gutters
The most common problem we see with gutters is clogging. When gutters become clogged, they can’t drain properly and can start to overflow during rainstorms. When the water can’t pass through properly, it can start to cause problems with your foundation. That’s why it’s so important to keep your gutters clean—you want the water to be able to flow through easily.
To keep them free of debris, stick to a twice a year maintenance program. This might vary depending on the climate you live in, but usually, it’s a good idea to clear them out in late fall after most of the leaves have fallen, and in spring (in March or April) to make sure they’re clear for those April showers.
If you feel like you’re dealing with an extra amount of debris, you can also look at installing gutter covers. However, these can be pretty expensive, and still require some maintenance.
2. Sagging Gutters
If you let your gutters clog up with debris like leaves, twigs, and standing water, overflowing water isn’t the only problem you’ll face. The weight from this debris can also cause gutters to sag. This is usually caused by loose hangers (the hardware that secures the gutters to the house), which pull out when they can’t hold the extra weight. You can often fix this by simply tightening the screws again, but it could also be caused by the hangers being spaced too far apart. In this case, you’ll need to install new ones, ensuring that they’re close enough together.
3. Leaks and Holes
If you notice a stream of water pouring down from the middle of your gutters, it’s likely that your gutters have sprung a leak. Leaks and holes can happen pretty easily and are usually pretty simple to fix. You can use gutter sealant to caulk the seams to repair leaky seams, while larger holes will need to be patched. Patching kits are easily found at most hardware stores, and are easy to use. Just make sure that when you’re patching a hole, you’re using the same material as the gutter to patch it—using a different material can cause erosion.
4. Damaged Gutters
Gutter damage can also happen in other ways. The main culprit being the weather. During a heavy rainstorm or windstorm, gutters can be knocked down or damaged. In this case, fixing them might be as simple as rehanging them, or you might need to replace certain sections. In this case, there’s not much you can do to prevent it, other than making sure your gutters are properly installed and aren’t already loose.
5. Improperly Pitched Gutters
In order for water to flow properly, gutters need to be angled (pitched) correctly. The slope should sit at the correct angle, which is at least a quarter inch for every 10 feet of gutter. If you think your gutters might not be pitched properly, it’s easy to tell. Just get up on a ladder after a rainstorm; if you see standing water, you’ll likely need to adjust the pitch. Sometimes this is as easy as bending it into place, but you might need to totally reinstall the hangers, which is a much bigger job.
6. An Inadequate Gutter System
Some homes just don’t have any gutters at all, which can cause all sorts of problems. It’s important to have a proper system in place to help prevent damage to your siding and foundation during rainstorms. If you need new gutters, it’s best to get them professionally installed. Doing so will help you avoid most of the common problems we discussed above. As for the type of gutters to choose, aluminum is a great choice. If you maintain them properly, they can last forever.