5 DIY Gutter Repairs & When to Call Professionals
With many homeowners having more time at home now than ever, tackling basic home repairs is more popular than ever.
Some jobs, like electrical and plumbing, are either dangerous or don’t offer a lot of forgiveness for your inexperience. But other home improvements are fine for even the most novice beginners. Common gutter problems fall into this middle ground.
If you notice any of the following issues with your gutters, there’s a good chance you can handle the repair yourself, or at least handle the immediate problem until EPIC Gutter Cleaning can get to it.
5 Common Gutter Issues & DIY Repair Solutions!
Below, we’ve listed 5 of the most common residential gutter issues, along with a quick, inexpensive way to repair each one. We’ve also given each repair a difficulty rating to help you decide if it’s a job you will feel confident tackling.
Clogs – Easy
The Problem: Your gutters have become stopped up because of debris that is too big or too packed to flow through.
The Solution: Cleaning out your gutters annually is usually enough to keep them free of clogs. However, depending on a variety of conditions, you may have to do this twice a year. In the event that a clog happens in between cleanings, there could be a larger issue, like a tree limb or bird’s nest that needs to be removed.
Grab a tall ladder and someone to hold it for you, and climb up to the roof to empty the gutters. (Have a bucket or wheelbarrow down below to drop the debris into so you don’t have to touch it twice!)
Sagging Gutters – Easy (short-term), Difficult (long-term)
The Problem: Gutters sag in the middle when they have had too much weight in them for too long.
The Solution: An immediate fix for this problem is to purchase plastic shims from a home improvement store and wedge them underneath the gutter and into the fascia board. This should realign the slight slope your gutters need (toward the downspout) to drain water from the roof.
If the problem is that the older wood fascia board has rotted, you will need to replace that, which will require removing the gutters, installing new PVC fascia board, and then re-installing the gutters.
Separated Downspouts – Moderate
The Problem: Downspouts can separate from the gutters, which run horizontally, if a fastener comes out. Downspouts are also attached to the side of the house for added security. They can separate from the house as well, also due to screws coming loose due to an issue with the gutters above.
The Solution: The first thing you’ll have to do is figure out why the downspout is pulling away. Then, you will need to determine the size and type of fastener needed to make the repair.
Reconnecting the downspout to the gutter is fairly easy. You will just need to replace the missing fastener, and finish with a gutter sealant to prevent leaks.
Reattaching it to the house will require a little more work and knowledge. You may need to purchase a downspout drop outlet to fully secure the connection. Determine the type of gutters you have so you purchase the right kind. Then secure the downspout tightly to the house with a downspout band.
Leaks – Easy-Difficulty
The Problem: Leaks are usually caused by gaps between the sections of segmented gutters. These gaps develop over time due to stress and missing fasteners. Rust is sometimes the culprit as well.
The Solution: An easy fix for leaking gutters is to tap the end caps back together gently, spreading a gutter sealant across the seam. A bigger issue, such as holes and cracks in the gutter, will require the installation of a gutter patch, attached and sealed with gutter sealant.
The worst case scenario with gutter leaks is that they are worn out and need to be replaced. This is when it’s far more economical – and much easier for you – to call a professional and let them replace all your gutters, downspouts, and fasteners at once.
Stalling Water – Difficult
The Problem: Gutters should have anywhere between a 1/8-inch to ½-inch vertical drop for every 10 feet of gutter. It isn’t much, but it is enough to keep water flowing toward the downspouts. When water stalls in your gutters, it means that the gentle slope the gutters originally had is gone.
The Solution: The first step is to check for clogs. If a clog is present, remove it (see above) and run water through your gutters with the garden hose to ensure that it all flows correctly.
If there is no clog, you’ll probably have to remove the gutters and reinstall them at the proper slope. This isn’t as difficult as installing brand new gutters because you will have a basic guide of where to place the fasteners based on where they are before you take everything down.
However, this project borders on a major home renovation project, and, as the saying goes, one project begets another, meaning that once you uninstall the gutters, you’re likely to run into even more issues that need to be repaired. This can quickly overwhelm an inexperienced homeowner.
When to Call a Professional
If you’re a do-it-yourself handyman, you either A) enjoy doing simple home improvement tasks or B) love saving money.
But it’s important to know where the extent of your capabilities ends. The money savings aren’t worth risking your safety. If it isn’t something you just want to learn how to do, or you simply don’t have the time or desire to do gutter repair yourself, there’s absolutely no need to do so!
Sometimes, it’s just a better idea to trust a professional for gutter cleaning and gutter repair. They will have the equipment on hand to do the job right, and they will practice safety procedures that keep them from injury.
As a homeowner, you take pride in doing things yourself, but spending your money on home repairs will never be a poor investment!
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