If your home’s gutters leak, they turn from something structurally functional into not so attractive house decorations. In other words, if your gutters leak and are not going to be maintained, why have then in the first place?
A gutter’s only purpose is to collect and redirect the water from rain and melting snow and ice away from your home’s foundation. With proper maintenance, the chances of your gutters developing a leak will be greatly reduced. When gutters begin to leak, extensive and costly damage can be done to your home’s siding, fascia boards, soffits, walls, and foundation. Gutter leaks will usually lead to major repairs that can be extremely costly. As a homeowner, you need to be aware of the different issues that can cause gutters to leak and where to look for them.
When gutters leak it is wise to have a gutter installation professional inspect them. Although you may pinpoint the area of the leak, the reason the leak exists is not always easy to determine from the ground. And there could be more than one reason for the gutter to be leaking. Below are some of the more common issues that can result in gutter leaks:
Clogs Can Lead to Gutter Leaks
Clogs are usually the number one reason that gutters develop leaks. When a clog develops, water stops freely flowing through them. A standard size 4 inch gutter can hold approximately 2.5 gallons of water per foot. So, if you have 40 feet of 4-inch gutters on one side of your house, that run of gutters could hold around 100 gallons of water when clogged. One gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds. If your gutters are completely clogged and contain 100 gallons of water, the water in the gutter run could weigh 834 pounds. No gutter system is designed to carry that much weight. That much weight could cause your gutters to pull loose from your house or cause individual gutter joints to separate. This means that it is critical for you to ensure that there are no obstructions: things like leaves, tree branches, seeds or pine cones, loose gravel from the shingles, or bird nests, clogging your gutters. Clearing them a couple of times a year would be wise.
When gutters begin to pull away from the fascia boards, the boards your gutters are attached to, a different type of gutter leak occurs. Because the gutters are no longer secured tightly to the house, water flowing off the roof can miss the gutter completely and run down the side of your home. This type of problem may allow water to flow into your soffit areas and even down inside the exterior walls of your home. Since this water leakage problem is not easy to discover, mold often has a chance to develop, further compounding your leak issue. It’s not just the weight of any water that can cause gutters to come loose. As your home ages, gutter fasteners may become loose and allow the gutters to separate from the fascia boards. Sometimes the answer is to reattach the gutters using stronger or longer fasteners. The holding power of the gutter fasteners should be inspected once a year. Age can also affect the fascia boards themselves, rotting the boards over time. When this happens, the only solution is to take down the gutters and install new fascia boards.
Gutter Leaks Due to Improper Sloping
Every gutter should be gently sloped, or pitched, toward the nearest downspout. The recommended amount of slope is ¾-inch of slope from the center of your home to either end. The slope should never exceed ¼-inch per 10 feet of length. Too much slope can cause the water to miss the gutters entirely and cascade down to the ground and inundate the foundation; too little slope can cause the water to pool in areas of the gutter system. When the water pools, it causes rusting or corrosion of the gutters. Over time, sagging also may occur in gutters, resulting in the same problem as improperly sloped gutters. If you think this may be the reason that your gutters leak, an installer can check and correct the slope of your gutters.
Gutter Leaks Due to Aging
Any gutter can leak, even if it is relatively new. However, older gutters, especially sectioned gutters, can develop a leak as they age. Sectional gutters are pieced together and the joints are either sealed together or fastened with screws or rivets. Sealants will age over time and begin to weaken. Screws or rivets are weak points and may begin to leak as the water affects them. Small holes or gaps may develop and a leak begins.
Gutter Cracks and Holes
Exposure to weather will eventually deteriorate any material. Small cracks or holes can allow minor leaks, which over time, can increase in size and severity. Although these small cracks and holes could easily be repaired, if the material the gutters are made of have deteriorated that much in some areas, it stands to reason that additional cracks and holes will soon develop in different areas. It may be a wise choice to consider replacing the entire gutter system.
Gutter leaks can be caused by a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s best to contact a gutter specialist when these types of problems are discovered. When gutter leak problems arise, it’s time for responsible homeowners to take action and have the problem corrected before the leaks can cause more extensive and expensive damage.
If you need assistance with leaking gutters or the water damage they may have caused, call 877-960-0491. You will be connected to a local pre-screened and certified professional who will make an appointment to come to your home and inspect any gutter or water damage problems you may have. Their inspection, advice, and estimate of needed repairs are free of charge and require no obligation on your part.
Written by Mark Huey.
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