It is important to perform a gutter inspection on your home or other property at least twice a year, in the fall and spring. Doing so before the cold weather and spring rains will help identify problems such as sagging gutters, leaking joints, holes, and rusted seam.
Additional inspections may be necessary following severe winds or ice storms, as these can all compromise your gutter’s functioning.
As part of the twice yearly inspection, clearing the gutter of accumulated leaves, twigs and debris will not only help your gutter perform better, but will enable you to identify problems. Debris-filled rain gutters can hide areas that you cannot see from the outside.
Gutter sag is a common problem that can happen after windstorms or weather events. Gutter hangers and attachments holding your gutter securely may have pulled loose. Sagging can also be caused from bent gutters, which can happen from tree branches falling on the edge of the roof, heavy debris in the gutter, or missing gutter straps and supports.
Sagging problem can be remedied either through replacing missing hanger nails or hangers. Installing new or extra hangers may be necessary. Additionally, anyone stepping on the gutters to climb on or off the roof can bend and damage gutters. If the gutter itself is bent and not simply loose and unsupported, it is recommended that the section of warped gutter be replaced as they can no longer direct the water without pooling.
Leaking joints in gutter systems cause several problems. They deposit water in areas that may be undesirable, can deposit rust stains on patios, driveways or porches, and contribute to rust developing inside the gutter, where it may not be seen. This can lead to needing to replace whole sections, over time.
Leaking joints can be identified by running a hose through the gutter and noting whether water is coming through at the joints. These are vulnerable areas, due to joint compound erosion and temperature stress.
If the metal is not rusted, and there are no holes, sanding the old compound off the joint and re-caulking with a silicone sealer or gutter compound may solve the problem. However, if there is rust and more extensive deterioration, gutter replacement of the affected sections is recommended.
A rusted seam or two may be identified during your gutter inspection. Brown or discolored areas will be noted where two sections come together. Many gutter seams, over time, will begin to develop rust, through the wearing away of paint and sealers.
Rusted seams need to be repaired with metal paints to slow or stop the rusting process, control the staining of surrounding areas, and to cover these unsightly spots. A rusted seam can also be re-caulked if necessary. If caught in the early stages, rusted seams can be controlled, extending the life and function of your gutter.
Gutter holes can develop from punctures caused from tree branches or other damage, by rust left unattended, or inappropriate gutter repair. Small gutter holes can be repaired with roofing cement or similar material. For larger holes, patches can be placed inside or outside the gutter and riveted or sealed in place. Identifying the cause of this kind of damage is important, to avoid further property expense.
Protecting and maintaining your property’s value begins with ensuring that your gutter functions properly, is secure against the structure, and does not contribute to wet areas around your foundation.