Gutters are the simplest part of the waterproofing system. There’s no high-end technology behind them — they are just open-end pipes that sit on the lower edge of the roof. Yet, the role they play in keeping the home dry is essential. Gutters collect roof water and direct it away from the home where it can’t cause damage.
Homeowner needs to take care of the gutters and keep them running smoothly. When you notice leaks in your gutters, it’s important to address the problem right away and find the cause of the leak. That will prevent any further and more complex damage to your home.
Why Do Gutters Leak?
Identifying the source of a leak in your gutters can often be straightforward. By tracing the path of the leak and conducting a thorough inspection, you can typically determine the cause of the issue. However, being familiar with a few usual indicators of gutter issues can enhance your detection capabilities. By recognizing and understanding these signs, you’ll be able to efficiently diagnose what has instigated the leakage.
What Causes Gutters to Clog?
Gutter clogs are a prevalent issue, often caused by accumulation of leaves, debris, and dirt. This clutter blocks the steady flow of water, and over time, water begins to overflow from the gutter edges. Such scenarios can rapidly worsen during heavy rainfall, leading to the ground around your home becoming waterlogged. Regular inspections usually make these clogs easy to spot.
The mid-Atlantic region is known for its higher-than-average rainfall. Recent years have witnessed remarkable levels of precipitation, including several instances of record-breaking rainfall and snowfall. These conditions highlight the importance of gutters in keeping your property dry. By ensuring your gutters are clean and well-maintained, you can avoid excess water leading to lasting structural harm.
Even gutters of the highest quality can get damaged over time. Small cracks and holes are enough for the gutters to start leaking since water will find its way through them and damage the home or pour alongside it.
When you notice a leak, the first thing to do is to look for the cracks. If you can’t find them, use a garden hose to pour water into the gutter and follow the leak from the bottom side.
Joints That Aren’t Installed Properly
When the joints aren’t sealed as they should be during installation, they tend to leak. Joints will also separate over time, and water will pour through the crack in the joints. It’s important to check the gutters where the sections are connected and look for leaks in this area.
Again, it may be useful to use a hose to pour some water into the gutters and inspect the leak while the gutters are full and pouring over so that you can find the leak quickly.
Gutters need to be sloped downward so that the water flows down. It’s simple enough to notice a problem with the slope. The water will remain trapped in the gutters and they will start to bend and sag under its weight.
Keeping the Gutters Fixed to the Roof
Hangers, nails, and screws are used to keep the gutters fixed in place on the roof. They are driven through the gutter and into the fascia boards. When these fasteners become loose, the gutter moves and the water drips from the hole.
Since the water will run down the fascia board, it may cause it to rot over time. It’s best to address the issue quickly before it causes further damage. That way you will only need to invest in fixing the gutter itself and not repairing the damage caused by the water dripping from it.
The Problems Posed by Leaking Gutters for Homeowners
Leaking gutters are more than just a minor inconvenience; they can lead to a host of problems for homeowners. When functioning correctly, gutters direct rainwater away from your home’s foundation, preventing many issues. However, when they leak, they can cause significant damage over time. Here are several reasons why leaking gutters pose a serious problem:
- Foundation Damage: Water that continually spills from gutters can pool around your home’s foundation. Over time, this can lead to foundation erosion and even severe structural damage as the water seeps into the foundation and weakens it. In extreme cases, this can cause the foundation to crack or shift.
- Basement Flooding: Leaking gutters increase the risk of basement flooding. When water isn’t properly diverted away from the house, it can find its way into the basement, causing dampness, mold growth, and in severe cases, flooding.
- Damage to Landscaping: Excessive water runoff from leaking gutters can wreak havoc on your landscaping. It can lead to soil erosion and kill plants due to overwatering.
- Roof Damage: When gutters leak, it often indicates they’re blocked. This can cause water to back up and pool on the roof, leading to potential roof damage or leaks.
- Mold and Mildew Growth: The dampness caused by leaking gutters creates an ideal environment for mold and mildew to thrive, which can be harmful to both your home’s structure and the health of its inhabitants.
- Decreased Property Value: Persistent leaks and the associated water damage can decrease your property’s value, making it less appealing to potential buyers.
What Can I Do About Leaking Gutters?
There are ways to fix the problem without removing the gutters entirely. Here, we will discuss a few ways to fix leaky gutters (depending on the cause of the problem).
Unclogging the Gutters
When clog results in water overflowing from the gutters, your primary action should be its removal. Ensure your hands are safely shielded with work gloves to protect against any debris. Employ basic tools like a gutter scoop or a small trowel, or even your hands to extract the clutter from the gutter. Once gathered, deposit the debris into a trash bin and dispose of it from the vicinity once completed.
To finalize the cleaning, consider using a garden hose or a power washer. This can effectively rinse away residual smaller debris and dirt lodged within the gutters
How to Seal the Cracks
When the gutters are cracked, and water is pouring through them, it’s best to start by assessing the severity of the problem. If the cracks aren’t too large and there’s not too much damage, they can be sealed. This is done by using a gutter caulk or a sealant made out of silicone.
However, when the damage to the gutters is too severe, and cracks cannot be sealed, a homeowner will have to install new ones.
How to Fix the Joints
Loose joints are another common cause of gutter leaks, and when this is the case, it’s best to replace the sealant that can no longer keep the gutters watertight. If this isn’t an option due to severe damage, the whole joint needs to be replaced.
How to Fix the Loose Fasteners
When the gutters are leaking due to problems with the fasteners, the best way to go is to replace them altogether. It’s especially important to do so if they have started to rot. It’s also useful to apply caulking and sealant to the fasteners; in some cases, you won’t need to go through the trouble of replacing them.
How to Fix the Sloped Gutters
If your gutters are not correctly inclined and seem weighed down by the accumulated water, the most effective solution is to dismount them. You can then rehang the gutters appropriately to prevent the issue from recurring.
How to Maintain Gutters
As a homeowner, dedicating time to gutter maintenance is as crucial as caring for any other part of your home. By doing so, your gutters remain in excellent condition, ensuring their durability and effectiveness. Sometimes, this simply involves careful cleaning of the gutters at least twice a year.
Keeping your roof clean also significantly contributes to maintaining your gutters’ functionality. However, the true secret to extending your gutters’ lifespan lies in conducting thorough roof inspections.
If you are worried that your leaky gutters have caused damage to your foundation, contact professionals at JES to schedule a free inspection.