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When to Replace Gutters or Repair Them–and How to Do It

Homeowners invested up to $500 last year fixing gutters, according to Homeadvisor.com. It’s money well spent, because gutters have the power to protect against headaches, like a basement full of water. They do wear out over time, but it’s possible to prolong life with DIY repairs. What’s involved and how do you know when it’s time to call in a specialist? We’ll give you the 101.

Why gutters are so important

Gutters shield your home from water. By capturing rain as it drains from the roof and directing it away from the foundation, they protect the structural integrity of the house, preserve lower levels and keep it dry. Without gutters, water would collect around the house foundation, creating hydrostatic pressure that forces water into low-lying areas like the basement and crawlspace.

Signs of gutter problems

You know gutters aren’t performing correctly when you see:

  • Sagging
  • Leaks
  • Insufficient drainage

What’s happening in these situations? Let’s take a closer look.

Sagging gutters: add support

Gutters sag, droop and otherwise pull away from the house when hangers, hardware that connects the gutter to roofing fascia board, wear down over time. This is typical aging, and it can indicate a breakdown on either side of the connection. It’s also possible that fasteners weren’t set up to carry the weight of a full gutter: when spaced too far apart, fasteners can’t provide enough support and the gutter sinks.

The problem can be quite simpler: your gutters may be bogged down with leaves, branches and other debris that adds weight and prevents water from flowing freely.

What to do? Add support. Consider replacing or adding spikes to support the ferrule and/or the hangers. It’s also a good idea to clean gutters about every six months and perhaps invest in gutter covers to make the job easier.

Leaks and holes: clean, cover and seal

Regardless of whether your gutter is made of aluminum, copper, steel, galvanized steel, zinc or vinyl, the material can be compromised. Sometimes all it takes is a brush from a branch or tool to scratch the finish and create an environment for rust to thrive. Before long, rust can weaken the material to the degree that a hole develops. Breakdowns also happen in joints where the gutter curves around roof corners.

What’s the fix? Clear the rust away with a wire brush. Once clean and dry, apply roofing cement designed for the appropriate gutter material to cover and extend beyond the hole. Joints are more responsive to gutter sealant, which should be applied internally.

Malalignment: create a steady slope

Your roof slopes for a reason: it allows water to roll off the surface. Gutters, too, need a slope to create a level degree of drainage to and through the downspout. They should angle down ¼” about every 10 feet to create a steady flow. If you have still water in gutters and no obstructions are visible, measure to see if the distance is off.

It’s possible to detach and rehang gutters, but it’s tricky to pitch them correctly and consistently. Malalignments could mean a risk of water damage, flooding and otherwise compromising your home foundation. It’s best to call a gutter specialist to manage the job and prolong gutter life. Garage Doors of Indianapolis has outfitted and repaired greater Indianapolis homes with gutters, particularly Gutter Flo Seamless Gutters, for long life. Need an estimate? Let’s talk.

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