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How to Fix a Leaking Gutter

12 July 2015

Gutter leaks, if left unattended, will only grow into worse gutter leaks, and the damage they can do to side panels, the ground below, and even your foundation will increase the cost of repairs when they are finally addressed. It just makes sense, therefore, to attend to gutter leaks as soon as they are identified so as to prevent anything worse from happening to the home and its surroundings. Depending on exactly what is causing the leak, there are several techniques which might be employed to correct the problem.

Signs of a leaking gutter
Signs of a leaking gutter, a best seen right after a rain.

GUTTER LEAK FIXES

Probably the most common cause of gutter leaks involves the joints where two pieces of gutter piping come together. Over a period of time, exposure and natural deterioration lead to the breakdown of gaskets and sealants which bind the pieces together. When that happens, the seal is broken and water is free to escape through the resultant opening. Repairing this situation is fairly easy for anyone moderately comfortable with the do-it-yourself activity. Basically, it involves disassembling the joint, cleaning the joint thoroughly, applying fresh gutter caulk, and re-clipping the two sections.

Gutters that are leaking at places other than joints — for instance, via small holes in the gutter piping — might be fixable by re-sealing with gutter caulk, but if they’re too large, they may require a section of the gutter to be cut out and replaced with a new section, cut several inches larger than the part removed. Once the replacement part has been replaced, the procedure is the same as for a leaky joint, i.e., clean thoroughly, re-caulk, and re-clip the two pieces.

BLOCKAGES AND SAGGING

If a gutter is leaking because it is blocked with debris, use a gutter brush available at hardware stores to sweep away leaves and other material to re-establish runoff flow. If the gutter hangers or clips have become loosened, it should only require re-tightening these, unless they have become too worn to be effective, in which case new fixtures must be installed.

If a thorough inspection shows that there are no apparent blockages or deterioration of gutter materials, it may just be that the downward angle of the gutter has been compromised, and gravity is no longer causing water to run off in a downward action. You can test this by pouring a pitcher of water in your gutter and observing the results. It should run toward the downspout, where it will then be directed underground and away from the foundation. However, if water just sits there in the gutter without moving, the downward gradient has probably been lost, and you may need to re-position the hangers or contact a contractor to re-install.

Gutters that are sagging will also have lost their installed direction of flow, and in severe cases of sagging may also present a threat of falling apart and bringing down other sections with them. These will need to be restored by re-positioning or adding more gutter hangers, to provide greater support in the areas needed along the length of the gutter piping. Hangers and their fixtures are also readily available at hardware stores and are fairly easy to install.

MAJOR REPAIRS

Sometimes gutter damage can be more serious than any of the scenarios described above — for instance, damage done by a powerful storm sweeping through the neighborhood. In such a case, re-installation by professional contractors, such as Home Solutions of Iowa, might be the most cost-efficient and reliable option to ensure that your gutters are functioning correctly and carrying water safely away from the home. It’s also true that not everyone is comfortable with the idea of do-it-yourself projects around the home, and if this is true in your case, it is probably best to attempt to determine the cause of the problem, then leave it to the experts to provide whatever repairs are needed.

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