Leaking gutters are some of the most obvious signs that it’s time for a gutter repair, but just what causes them? While some of the reasons are obvious, at least one is fairly easy to miss. Here is what to look for if you have a dripping gutter:
Age of the Gutters
Like many parts of the house, gutters get weakened and worn out with age. Old gutters have been through many seasons, had exposure to corrosive elements, and may even have been banged into by tree limbs. These things add up to weaken the material the gutters are made from, and eventually, small holes or even tears develop. Leaks will occur through each new opening. Eventually, there can be so many of these unwanted openings that the gutter system is more like a roofline sprinkler than a gutter.
Storms, abuse, and the effects of time can all cause your gutters to get pulled slightly away from your house. When this happens, it often appears that you have leaks, but in reality, the water is escaping before it even gets into the gutter system. It’s coming through the gap between the roof and the gutters, so the fix for this is to reattach them so they are tight to the roofline once again.
When your gutters get clogged, water backs up within them and then rises. Once the water line is above the top of the gutters, it spills over the side. As with loose gutters, the problem isn’t really that you have a leak. In this case, the capacity of the system is simply being exceeded by the volume of the water. Clearing your gutter clogs will fix the problem. Typically, you can spot where the clog is by looking for the place where the dripping stops, but if the downspout is what is blocked, it will drip over the entire length of the gutters overhead.
Gaps Between Sections
If your gutter system is made in sections, then each piece has to be securely attached to the next one(s) in order for everything to work properly. Through time or direct damage, these sections can come apart slightly, causing leaks. Proper reassembly of the gutters will take care of the problem, but it’s important to be sure to use methods that will resist the forces that made them come apart in the first place.
Improper Gutter Slope
This is one of the hardest issues for a homeowner to see, so if you find yourself wondering “why do my gutters drip,” there is a high chance that this is the reason. Sagging gutters, improper initial installation, and more can cause the “grade” of the gutters to go away from the downspout instead of toward it. Then, the gutters fill with water and overflow, much like if they were clogged. They will need to be put back on with the proper slope in order to fix this.
Determining What’s Causing your Gutter to Leak
Often, you can see what is causing a dripping gutter just by looking. This is especially true if there is corrosion, either at random places or at the joints between the gutter sections. If nothing like this is visible, wait for a rainy day and then go out and watch the leak pattern. You can usually see if the water is coming over the sides, down between the roof edge and the gutter, or through the bottom of the troughs.
While you’re out there, check the downspout – if nothing’s coming out and no water is coming through the trough of the gutter itself either, it’s probably clogged. If the system is old or there has been a big storm, it is also possible that there is more than one problem that needs to be attended to.
How to Fix Leaking Gutters
While the principle of how to fix leaking gutters isn’t that hard, this is a dangerous job. You not only have to get up on a tall ladder, but have to wrestle with long, unwieldy pieces of material that will want to awkwardly fall down as soon as they are released from their fasteners. Therefore, it’s best to hire professionals to do the work.
Once the cause of the problem has been determined, the right course of action can be decided on. If the gutters are just clogged, then it just takes cleaning to restore proper operation. However, if corrosion is present, other steps must be taken.
When only a small part of a gutter is corroded, such as the space between joints, a patch or caulk can usually be applied to stop the leak. Alternatively, a company may use a seamless gutter insert to restore a solid surface to a large area – sometimes, the entire system. These rely on the strength of the original gutters to hold them up, so the originals do have to have enough material left to serve that purpose.
If a section of the gutter system is too corroded to hold a liner or a patch, then it must be replaced. In many cases, part of the system will reach this state before the rest, so it can be worthwhile to do this instead of replacing the entire thing. However, the time does come when a system will finally be old enough for full replacement. Fortunately, this is not a sudden process, so it doesn’t have to make a surprise hit to the budget.
Correcting sagging gutters basically involves reinstalling them the right way. New hangers are typically used, since one of the causes of sagging is the failure of the old ones.
If you need leaking gutter repair in Metro Vancouver or the Lower Mainland, or you have a dripping gutter and can’t figure out why, contact us at Weatherguard Gutters today. We’ll be glad to come out, assess the situation, and give you a quote on gutter leak repair or replacement.
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