The gutters on your roof are there for a very specific purpose, which is to make sure water from above does not go directly to the building’s foundation. Therefore, they have to be secured, maintained, and fixed in order to make sure your home’s structural integrity is preserved.
Unfortunately, gutters also are a recipient of all sorts of wear and tear considering the fact that it is up there exposed to the weather all day long. It also is prone to problems like clogs, holes, and sometimes, sags. Good news though is that with the right commitment, some important tools, and basic knowledge, every homeowner can do the maintenance and repair jobs involving the gutters. As a matter of fact, it’s easy to integrate this task to routine home repair and maintenance. It just takes a bit of effort and time.
First, have a look at this video from Lowe’s Home Improvement:
The video above mentions the importance of cleaning the gutters during the spring and fall, the reason of course is to prepare them for both the rainy and winter season. When they are clogged, the presence of standing water on them will put the entire property at risk, including your roof and foundation.
But aside from clogs, there also are other common problems that you should be wary of when it comes to your gutters. See this article from HouseLogic.com called “Fast Fixes for Common Gutter Problems.”
Sagging Gutters and Gutters Pulling Away from the House
This is usually a problem with the hangers, the hardware that secures the gutters to the fascia. They might have deteriorated over time, the fasteners may have backed out of the wood, or they’re spaced too far apart to support the weight of full gutters. The cost to fix it yourself is cheap; hangers generally cost $10 or less apiece, and the fasteners run about $1 each.
Leaks and Holes
Leaky gutter joints can be sealed by caulking the joint from the inside with gutter sealant, says John Eggenberger, vice president of training and corporate development for the Mr. Handyman franchise of home repair companies. A tube costs about $5. Very small holes can be filled with gutter sealant. Larger holes will require a patch. If you can’t find a gutter patching kit at the hardware store, you can make a patch from metal flashing.
Improperly Pitched Gutters
Gutters need to be pitched toward the downspouts for the water to flow properly. You want at least a quarter inch of slope for every 10 feet. Get on a ladder after a rainstorm and look in the gutter; if there’s standing water, it’s not pitched properly.
To correct this yourself, you’ll need to measure from the peak to the downspout. Snap a chalk line between the two and find the spots where the gutter is out of alignment. You might be able to push it up into place by bending the hanger. If that doesn’t solve the problem, you might need to take a section down and rehang it. If you have seamless gutters, call the company that installed them to correct the problem.
Downspouts Draining Too Close to the Foundation
Downspouts need to extend several feet from the house, or they’ll dump right into the basement. Gutter extensions attached to the bottom of the downspout will discharge water well beyond the foundation. They’re inexpensive and easy to install. “I like the downspout material extended four or five feet and screwed on,” says Reggie Marston, president of Residential Equity Management Home Inspections in Springfield, Va. Cost: less than $20 per downspout.
If your house has no gutters at all, consider investing in a system. The cost depends on the material. Most residential gutters are aluminum, which is lightweight and durable. “Unless an aluminum gutter is damaged by something, it will last forever,” says Scott McCurdy, vice president of Jacksonville, Fla.,-based disaster repair contractor Coastal Reconstruction. Vinyl, galvanized steel, and copper also are available options.
Aluminum gutters range from about $4.50 to $8.50 per linear foot installed. On a 2,000-square-foot house with about 180 linear feet of gutters, that’s roughly $800 to $1,500.
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The one thing you need to understand about gutters is that regardless of them being newly installed or already several years old, they always will be prone and subjected to problems, which means you cannot afford to ignore them. While many homeowners, and probably including you, would never go up there to check if there are any debris or stuff that could cause clogging and sagging, you have to realize that maintenance isn’t optional; it is necessary in order to avoid major, costly repairs of your home’s foundation and maybe even your roof.
Lastly, here are some valuable tips from DIYNetwork.com on how to do the gutter cleaning and maintenance right, in the article titled “Tips for Cleaning and Repairing Gutters.”
First, climb a ladder and clean the goop out of the gutters. The decomposed leaves make great mulch or compost. Pay particular attention to the downspout. If leaves and debris are clogging it, water won’t drain properly, and along with mildew and mud you’ll end up with sagging gutters.
Check all the spikes that are supposed to go through the gutter, through the fascia board and into the rafter behind it. At most homes, these spikes miss the rafters entirely, usually because the spike has just worked its way out of the hole over the years. It’s a good idea to invest in new gutter spikes so the gutters are securely fastened once again.
Another thing you want to look at are the sources of any leaks, including holes in the gutters and cracked caulking in the seams. Use an old chisel to scrape the old caulking out and dry the area thoroughly. Then use new bead silicon sealing to keep water from getting down behind the gutters and rotting the boards.
During this inspection, check out the rivets on the downspout. Frequently they’ll be loose or will have dropped out completely, all that is needed is a rivet gun to secure them anew.
A pressure washer won’t hurt the gutters provided you’ve secured the gutters with screws or new spikes. The real key is to avoid hitting the gutters at too high an angle or you’ll blow the shingles off with a high-pressure stream of water.
If the gutters are rusting, they are very old. They’ve moved to aluminum and vinyl gutters now, and they don’t rust. You might want to consider new gutters. But if you’re going to stay with the old ones, get all the rust off, sand them down, paint them with a good primer and then with a good-quality rust-inhibiting paint.
A splash block is a very important element. It keeps the water coming out of the downspouts from digging a trench next to the house, and it keeps water away from the home’s foundation.
In the end, gutter maintenance and repair is a type of job that’s not really that difficult to perform the whole year round. While you may be contented on doing nothing simply because you weren’t doing it in the past, you already know at this point what the risks are if you fail to clean and maintain as well as fix any problem in your gutter.