Water damage from leaking gutters can cost you thousands of dollars in repairs if you don’t find the leaks and fix them before it’s too late. That’s why it is important to inspect your gutters on a regular basis. At the first sign of a leak you should take care of the water problem immediately.
The first thing to do is to figure out why the gutter is leaking. Is there a broken seal at a seam? Is there a hole in the gutter? Is the gutter sagging and pulling away from the house? Any one of these can cause a gutter to leak and eventually cause damage. If the leak is coming from a seam you should remove any old sealant that may be on the seam and reapply new sealant to the seam on the inside of the gutter. Make sure you apply enough sealant to create a tight seal to avoid any future leakage. You can also use a sealant on a small hole in the gutter. This should be applied to the inside of the gutter as well. Again, be sure you apply enough to fill in the hole so that water can’t get through. Gutter sealant is inexpensive and you can purchase it at any hardware store or by clicking here.
Larger holes should be patched by placing a piece of metal sheeting over the hole. You can use a piece of metal flashing for this job. Cut the flashing larger than the hole so that it extends far enough beyond all sides of the hole to attach firmly to the gutter. Be sure to put the flashing on the inside of the gutter. Apply sealant to the inside of the gutter around the hole as well as on the piece of flashing. Press the piece of flashing down firmly over the hole and then add sealant around the outside edge of the metal piece to create a tight seal. Always test the patch by running water through the gutter to make sure the leak is fixed.
Repairing sagging gutters
Fixing seams and small holes in a gutter are pretty easy repairs. Fixing a sagging gutter can be a little more difficult but this is still something you can do on your own. The most common reason for a sagging gutter is a failed hanger. The screws or spikes can back out of the fascia board over time causing the gutter to sag. In other cases the hangers can be spaced too far apart putting extra weight on each support.
To fix this problem you first need to determine what kind of hanger is being used on your gutters. There are several different types of gutter hangers available.
Spikes (or Screws) and Ferrules are the least expensive type of hanger. These consist of a tubular spacer that fits inside of the gutter and a metal spike or screw that goes through edge of the gutter, through the spacer and into the fascia board. Screws are more secure than spikes as a spike can work its way out of the wood easier than a screw. It’s always better to put the screw through the fascia board and into a rafter tail behind the board. This gives extra support and helps keep the screw in place. Ferrules should be placed about every 24 inches to securely hold the gutter in place. If you have this type of hanger you should check each ferrule and replace all that are beginning to pull loose from the fascia board. Also check the spacing of the ferrules and add additional ones if they are spaced too far apart.
The hidden bracket hanger is another popular hanger. This hanger consists of a bracket that clips under the front edge of the gutter and is secured to the back. A wood screw is used to attach the bracket to the fascia board. Like the screw and ferrule, you should secure the bracket through the fascia board and into a rafter tail wherever possible. These hangers are completely invisible from the ground and should be placed about 24 inches apart. Check each bracket and replace all that are loose and pulling away from the fascia board. Also, check the spacing and add brackets where necessary to maintain the proper space between the brackets.
Another type of hanger is the half-round hanger. Half-round gutters are found mostly on older homes but are also used on newer homes as a decorative feature on the house. The hanger is a half-circle bracket that supports the gutter from underneath. This hanger is clearly visible from the ground. The hanger is installed by securing it to the fascia board or the roof usually with multiple screws being used for each bracket. The bracket pictured is a roof mounted bracket. The extended piece of metal allows for the bracket to be secured to the roof under the shingles. Generally, these hangers should be placed every 24” apart for maximum support. As with the other hangers you should check for loose brackets and replace them where needed.
How to fix downspouts that are draining too close to the foundation
If water isn’t flowing far enough from your house as it comes out of the downspout it can run against the foundation and cause damage. If you have a basement water can end up coming into the basement causing damage inside your house. This problem can be fixed by adding an extension to your downspout. There are different methods for extending a downspout. You can buy a piece of downspout pipe that matches the downspout on the house and add it to the end of the downspout. Flexible extensions are also available to move the flow of water away from your house. You can purchase these at any hardware store or click here to see a large selection. Be sure to measure the diameter of your downspout before purchasing additional pipe so you can match it up to the existing downspout. You should run the extension far enough away from the house so that water doesn’t run back against the house or gather within 10 feet of the foundation when it drains from the end of the pipe.
Another way to divert water from a downspout away from your house is to use a splash block. In many situations all you need to do is direct the water and a splash block will do this for you. Splash blocks can be purchased from any hardware store or click here to see a large selection that you can choose from. Splash blocks are inexpensive but they can save you a lot of money in the long run.
The best fix for water gathering around the foundation is to run a downspout extension underground to the storm sewer. This is more costly and it’s something you may not want to tackle yourself. The first thing you need to do is check with your local authorities to see if this is allowed in your area. Some municipalities discourage this so it might not be an option for you. If it is allowed in your area you might want to hire a contractor to dig the ditch, lay the pipe and tap into the storm water runoff system. This involves a little more expertise than the other fixes described in this article.
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