Gutters are like most home systems. They blend in, go about quietly, unassuming, and unnoticed, doing their job…until something goes wrong. They overflow, crack, or plain fall off. Next thing you know, they’re a thorn in your side pestering you for attention. But just how much care do they need? Soon you’re asking the question: Do I need to repair or replace gutters?
We’re on a mission to help you figure that out.
- Common rain gutter issues
- Types of gutter repairs
- Factors to consider when deciding to do a gutter repair or replacement
- DIY online gutter assessment
Let’s jump in!
5 Most common gutter issues & repairs
How can you tell if your gutters have issues? By knowing what to look for, you’ll have the power to notice & fix gutter issues before they cause serious damage.
Because damaged gutters have the power to damage everything around them: your roof, siding, fascia, foundation, and even your landscaping.
Here are the five most common gutter issues we see in the field.
Did you know that sometimes a gutter leak isn’t really a leak, but a gutter clog? Homeowners call us frequently for gutter leaks when, in reality, their gutters are just clogged.
If your new (or relatively new) gutters look like they are leaking, before paying for a gutter repair, start by checking the gutter trough.
Gutters can be sealed in all the right places and water-tight.
But if your gutters are clogged and heavy rain hits, the water can’t drain through the downspouts like it’s supposed to. It’ll find any way out possible – whether it be over the sides, behind the gutters, or even through once-sealed seams.
Yes, your gutters should be able to catch all the roof rainwater and drain it through the downspouts.
But gutters are a messy system. They get hit with water, pollen, sticks, leaves, pine needles, and acorns.
Just like a clog in your underground plumbing can cause a backup, so can a clog in your gutters.
Solution: Gutter cleaning and gutter guards
Speaking of leaks, gutters also get true water leaks. You find these most often at gutter seams where the caulk has worn down between two pieces. Common areas include end caps, corners, and downspouts.
To minimize gutter leaks, most homeowners now opt for seamless gutters.
Have you ever noticed water pouring over the sides of your gutters instead of out the downspouts?
That’s gutter overflow.
If your gutters are overflowing, you’ll want to fix this issue sooner rather than later. Otherwise, the water can flow behind the gutters and create wood rot or roof leaks.
Unlike some of these gutter issues, water overflow has a long list of potential causes. Some causes include clogged gutters, undersized gutters, improper pitch, or loose gutters.
If you’re dealing with overflowing gutters, check out our free diagnostic guide to overflowing gutters.
Solution: Varies – common solutions include cleaning, gutter re-pitch, splash guards
4. Cracks or rust
This could technically be a subcategory of leaks because cracks or rust in your gutter system often lead to gutter leaks. But since it’s such a specific type of gutter damage, we wanted to address it separately.
No gutter system lasts forever. Depending on the gutter material, it can start to crack, puncture, or rust in different places.
While most rain gutters, including aluminum gutters, are rust-resistant or rust-proof, the material can still slowly deteriorate with time.
In addition to natural wear and tear over time, harsh weather and improper gutter maintenance expedite the issues.
Cracked, punctured, or rusted gutters need more extensive repairs than a simple leaking gutter seam, but more on that later.
Solution: Replace the damaged section.
5. Loose/Fallen off
Lastly, we have loose or fallen gutters. This damage most commonly occurs after a bad storm. However, rotted fascia or inadequate gutter hangers can also be the culprit.
Solution: Replace any wood rot and resecure gutters.
Now a note about the type of repairs. It’s easy to say “repair your gutters.” But what type of repair?
Let’s look at the most common types of gutter repairs. We’ll start with the simplest repairs and end with the largest types of repairs.
For a complete list of common gutter issues and repairs, check out our gutter repair services.
You may be asking at this point, “can all issues be solved with a repair?” Not exactly. Let’s look at the different factors to consider when deciding whether to repair or replace your gutters.
Repair or replace gutters: 5 Factors to consider
Before we take the quiz, let’s review our framework and methodology.
We know that sounds boring, but by that, we just mean, “Why does this quiz work? What determines if I should repair or replace my gutters?”
Glad you asked. If, after taking our free assessment, you’re still not sure what to do, this section will help you make that final decision.
Here are the top 6 factors to consider when deciding whether you should repair or replace your gutters.
If your gutter system has several issues or the same issue throughout the entire gutter system, that could be a sign it’s time for a replacement.
1. Number of gutter issues
Just how many issues do your gutters have, and in how many spots? If there’s a small leak at a corner, of course, it just needs a repair. But if they are leaking everywhere, you might need a replacement.
And if your gutters have several different issues, that is also a sign they need more major TLC.
2. Quality of first installation
How was the last crew’s workmanship? Did they use quality accessories or skimp on materials? Did they secure the gutters properly and install downspouts and elbows in the best locations for water flow?
An improper gutter installation can lead to issues and system failure early on.
One real-life example: We had a customer call in for a gutter estimate. The fascia and gutter had completely fallen off the backside of their house, and the gutters weren’t very old.
Upon inspection, we discovered that whoever installed the gutters and fascia used the wrong fasteners and hangers. They were too short to securely fasten the gutters and fascia to the home.
As a result, the gutter and fascia came loose and fell off the home – even though the gutter was in good condition.
The gutter wasn’t reusable since it bent and broke during the fall, so they needed a partial gutter replacement.
Gutter installations require quality materials and a crew with knowledge, skill, and attention to detail.
3. Age of gutter system
This is one of the biggest factors to consider. How old are your gutters?
If your gutters have several issues and they are at the end of their lifespan, chances are a repair would be a very short-term fix and, ultimately, a waste of money.
Rather than constantly trying to repair your old gutter system, it may be time to fix the issues once and for all with a one-time gutter replacement.
4. Gutter Materials
So how do you know how long your gutters should last? It all depends on the gutter material. Aluminum and vinyl gutters can last up to 20-25 years.
In contrast, steel, aluminum, and copper gutters can last upwards of 50 years.
5. Wood rot
Finally, an important but often overlooked factor is wood rot.
If the fascia behind the gutters is rotted, it won’t be able to hold up the gutters for long.
Even if your gutters are in good shape, you may need to pay for someone to remove the gutters, replace the fascia, and then reinstall the gutters.
This can cost almost as much as a full gutter replacement.
To avoid this, we recommend asking your gutter contractor to replace any rotted fascia or sub fascia they find during a gutter replacement.
So now that we’ve given a crash course in gutter issues & repairs, let’s figure out whether or not you should repair or replace your gutters.
Free Quiz: Repair or Replace Gutters?
Be sure to check your gutters in the rain before taking this quiz. If you’re not sure where to begin, check out our free guide on how to inspect gutters without a ladder.
A few things you’ll need to know before taking the quiz:
- Age of your gutters
- Time of last gutter cleaning
- Gutter material
- Number of problem areas or gutter leaks
Once you have this information handy, use the flowchart quiz below. Within minutes, you’ll know whether it’s time to repair or replace your gutters!
And there you have it! Still not sure about your gutters? Contact Quality Seamless Gutters for a free inspection.
Serving the NC Triangle including Apex, Cary, Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and surrounding areas.