Gutters are the greatest invention, aren’t they? When your gutters are working the way they should, you don’t have any worries about rain damage to your roof, home siding, foundation or basement.
But when your gutters are not doing their job properly, it can cause all kinds of headaches.
However, unless you know the warning signs, you might not know at first that your gutters are to blame for the home problems you are experiencing.
In this article, we introduce you to the four primary warning signs that your gutters are not working the way that they should.
1. Clogged Gutters
Clogged gutters are the number one most common cause for gutter problems. They are also the problem the majority of homeowners are already familiar with.
This is because gutter clogs tend to happen frequently, especially if your gutters are not optimized to do their job without interference from Mother Nature.
Specifically, all those falling leaves and branches sure do tend to pile up quickly inside the narrow confines of your home’s gutters.
Small animals such as birds and rodents also tend to favor building their nests inside open gutters, which are sturdy and high enough off the ground to guard against many predators.
When they finally depart, all that nesting material is just one more clog waiting to happen.
How to tell your gutters are clogged:
– You actually see water spilling down over the sides of the gutters during rainfall.
– You hear scrabbling sounds that seem to be coming from your gutters (likely from a nesting animal family).
– Your gutters start to sag or collapse in places along the roofline.
– You find water marks along the sides of your home.
– Water is leaking into your home or basement and you can’t figure out where it is coming from.
– Your home’s foundation starts to shift.
2. Improperly Pitched Gutters
Gutter pitch, or slope, is both an art and a science. General practice wisdom suggests there should be approximately one quarter inch of slope per each 10 feet of gutter. Moreover, the pitch should be angled properly to allow runoff to easily flow into the downspouts.
Depending on how good you were at high school math, this might sound simple enough in theory. But calculating out how to do it properly in practice often becomes quite another matter.
This is especially the case if your home is built on unstable ground that tends to move and shift over time. Even if your gutters were perfectly pitched at time of installation is no guarantee they will stay that way.
How to tell your gutters are improperly pitched:
– When you look into your gutters after a hard rain, you see standing water.
– During a hard rain, water seeps out from the gutters on either side.
– When you stand back and look at your home from the street, the gutters are visibly crooked or sloped.
– The gutters keep getting clogged with sludgy leaf litter and other debris.
– You find water damage in your attic, roof fascia or basement.
– Your foundation starts to move.
3. Leaking Gutters
Leaking gutters can end up being worse than having no gutters at all. A gutter that is working properly routes excess water so that it flows down and away from your home and foundation.
A leaking gutter may randomly route water right towards the most vulnerable areas of your home, causing wear and tear that leads to expensive repairs.
And while a properly working, secure and weatherproof gutter system operates quietly, leaking gutters can be quite noisy, especially during the night while you are trying to sleep.
How to tell your gutters are leaking:
– After it rains, you notice persistent water runoff in places where it shouldn’t be.
– You see water stains on the sides of your home or on your sidewalks.
– You test your gutters by adding water and see multiple exit points (not just down into the downspouts).
– Your gutters appear clogged when you investigate them.
– You find evidence of wood rot.
– Your home’s foundation starts to move or shift.
– You find water inside your home, attic, or basement.
4. Sagging Gutters
Sagging gutters certainly will not do your home’s curb appeal any favors. Not only are they unsightly, but they can lead to extensive damages that then impact your home’s resale value.
A sagging gutter may open up pathways for water to stream down into your windows or basement space. Erosion can damage home grading and cause your foundation to begin to warp, crack and drift.
Sagging gutters and clogged gutters are related. When gutters get clogged and stay that way, this adds weight to that section of gutter and can cause warping and sagging. The gutter may actually start to pull away from the roof.
Sometimes a sagging gutter may eventually collapse entirely. Alternately, the sagging gutter may pull away to such a degree that it detaches from the roof and falls down. This creates a home safety hazard on multiple levels.
How to tell your gutters are sagging:
– The brackets that hold your gutters in place are missing or warped.
– You can see how some sections of gutter are lower than others when you observe your home from the street.
– Drips or streams of water coming down from the gutter in odd places.
– You pour water into one end of the gutter and it never makes it out the other end, or only some of the water is routed to the downspout.
– Look into your gutters and see lots of trapped material weighting the gutter down.
Handy Helps to Fix Gutter Problems
Gutters have a big job to do to protect your home from top to bottom. But gutters often don’t attract any attention until they stop working properly. By then, you may already be dealing with damage to your home on some level.
It is smart to take time to inspect your home’s gutter and downspout system at least twice per year, preferably before seasonal weather could turn minor problems into major issues.
You probably noticed that leaking, sagging, clogged and improperly sloped gutters can all cause some similar home damages. And some of the causes of these four common gutter problems are similar as well.
Take these steps to improve the performance of your home’s gutter system.
Gutter cleaning is sometimes all you need to restore your gutters to proper functioning.
If you are handy, you may be able to repair gutters yourself. But sometimes gutter issues are more complicated than they look, especially when fixing improper slope and gutter sagging problems.
A gutter guard install prevents leaves and detritus from clogging your gutters and keep nesting animals away. Gutter guards protect against known and unknown debris and clogs.
A gutter guard install is also a great way to keep seasonal snow and ice from weighting down and damaging your gutters.
Eavestrough replacement is the best option when your gutters start to need constant repairs.
Eavestroughs, or gutters, have a shelf life. Older eavestroughs may start to warp, sag or leak because the material used to make them is wearing out. This means a timely repair can be cost effective on multiple levels.