All You Need To Know About Problems With Your Gutters
Gutter systems that aren’t working properly may not seem like a huge concern at first, but they can be if left unattended. Your entire home may be affected if your gutters are broken, blocked, or both. Well-maintained gutters help your home stay appealing, safe, and simple to manage.
Good quality gutters safely divert melting snow and ice, rain, and other moisture away from your home, reducing the risk of erosion and other moisture-related problems. They also shield your house from foundation cracks, mold, corrosion, basement leaks, and roof leaks, which could lower the value of your house and force you to make expensive repairs.
It’s the goal of every homeowner to have a low-maintenance and hassle-free home. The problem is that bad gutters create a hassle for homeowners and can even be dangerous to clean. LeafCo wants to keep you informed and help you keep your home as hassle-free as possible. That’s why we’ve built this ultimate guide to common problems with gutters to help you know what gutter problem signs to recognize and what to do when you see them.
Sagging rain gutters can create an unattractive break in your home’s pristine lines. Unfortunately, as water pours down the side of your property over time, it can cause extensive water damage. If left untreated, the water can damage your home’s siding and potentially create foundation compression.
Frequent Causes of Sagging Gutters
If you know what to look for, it is simple to identify the causes of gutter issues. Walk around your home and search for these warning signs.
The increased weight caused by dirt clogging gutters is one of the most common causes of gutters that hang low or are misaligned. The weight of leaves, tree branches, acorns, and other debris can cause many of the less expensive gutter models to sag.
In addition, clogged gutters prevent the normal drainage of rain and snowmelt from your roof. This moisture can remain on your roof and seep into cracks, causing wood rot, leaks, and other issues.
There are a variety of materials used to construct gutters, and some are more prone to deterioration over time. Lightweight materials, such as aluminum, are susceptible to denting. As temperatures fluctuate, the expansion and contraction of vinyl and steel can cause your gutters to become distorted and droop.
3. Imprecise Alignment
Installation accuracy is essential for the efficient operation of your drainage system as a whole. This necessitates that your installers take the time to accurately measure and align each gutter element. When the components are not properly aligned, gutters may sag or you may get waterfalls along your roof line rather than via the downspouts.
It’s easy to overlook gutters, yet they’re one of the most essential property maintenance tools. When your drainage system is not functioning optimally, a variety of costly issues might arise, including:
- Leaky roof
- A musty attic
- Drenched insulation
- Inundated landscape
- Rotted fascia
- Basement leaks
- Fragmented foundation
A tiny leak in your gutters or downspouts has the potential to cause significant troubles for you and your property, although the issue may not appear to be all that serious at first.
Leaky gutters can cause extensive damage to your home’s siding, soffits, and fascia, as well as cause flooding and severe damage to your home’s foundation. Because of this, they can easily result in astronomical repair costs.
As a homeowner, you must understand what may be causing your gutters to leak so that you may take the necessary actions to remedy the problem and prevent future leaks. If you discover that your gutters are leaking, determine the cause and make the necessary repairs as soon as possible to prevent more severe problems from the gutters’ inadequacy.
If you want to inspect gutters after a storm, look for stains on the sidewalk or concrete surrounding your property, as well as water soaking and collecting in the soil near your home. If you observe symptoms of moisture intrusion in your basement after a rain, this is another indication of gutter leaks. The following are all indications of a defective, leaking gutter.
What Causes Gutters to Leak?
1. Your gutters are outdated.
As gutters age, they develop leaks. They may leak due to a hole letting water fall to the ground instead of flowing away from your home via the downspout.
2. Your gutters are unfastened
If your gutters are pulling away from your house, it may appear as though you have a water leak, but you do not. Typically, if your gutters are not properly attached to your fascia, water will stream down your roof and onto the ground surrounding your property (it won’t even enter the gutter).
3. Your gutters are obstructed.
If your gutters overflow and water flows around the perimeter of your home instead of away from it, debris is likely obstructing your gutter. Because gutters were not designed to support the weight of standing water and debris, clogged gutters result in leaks. Standing water can cause gutters to sag and separate from the fascia, resulting in gutters that leak.
4. Your gutters have an inappropriate pitch
Your gutters should have a slight slope to function effectively. If your gutters were not properly built or if they are blocked with debris, water can pool and weigh heavy on them. This eventually leads to rust and a gutter leak.
5. Your gutter hangers are loose
Internally concealed hangers secure the gutter to the fascia board of the house. If a hanger gets loose, water may damage your fascia boards as it pours over the rear edge of your gutters, forcing water to fall to the ground next to your property rather than away from it via the downspout.
6. Your downspout joints are separated
At the joints of your downspout, gutter leaks might occur. If debris becomes trapped in this location, the joints of the downspout may corrode and degrade.
Gutters serve a crucial function in safeguarding your home’s siding and foundation. The gutters assist in collecting water as it falls from the roof and transporting it to a downspout, where it is expelled away from your home. This keeps extra water away from your home’s foundation and siding and can prevent soil erosion issues that can lead to foundation sinking or shifting as well as flooding issues in crawl spaces and basements.
One of the most common myths regarding clogged gutters is that they are not clogged if water is not spilling over the sides of the gutter system. The opposite is true. Gutter systems can contain a great deal of water, and although your gutters may be clogged, there may not be enough water to spill over the gutter’s edges. When it rains, observe the gutters outside. Does water exit the downspout? If you observe little to no water exiting the outflow, you may have a blockage in the downspout or gutters.
Standing Water In Gutters
The presence of standing water in your gutters is abnormal and indicative of a severe problem.
Gutters safeguard your property against basement flooding, mold growth, and foundational issues. If there is standing water in your gutters, the reason must be determined and removed immediately to maintain the long-term health of your home and prevent further damage.
What Causes Standing Water in Gutters?
1. Improper Gutter Installation
Having standing water in a home’s gutters may be an indication of badly fitted gutters. If you’re in the market for new gutters, hire a gutter company that installs with attention to detail and precision.
2. Inaccurate Gutter Pitch
Gutters are designed to be built with a modest slope along the roof’s edge so that water flows via the downspouts. When the angle of your home’s gutters is incorrect, water might begin to pool.
3. Blockages in Your Gutters
When leaves and debris gather, they can obstruct gutters, preventing water from draining away from a home. If obstructions are not removed, they might cause foundation issues, water damage, and other issues. It is recommended to swiftly remove any gutter clogs to prevent further harm.
4. Obstruction of Your Downspouts
Downspouts are essential to the gutters’ correct operation. If your downspouts become obstructed, the water in your gutters will not drain properly. This is the most common issue that prevents gutter systems from performing their intended function. Water overflowing from your gutters frequently can cause damage to your roof, siding, and foundation if you don’t address this issue.
5. Nests of Wildlife in Your Gutters
Unfortunately, animals such as birds can completely clog your gutters by nesting in them. During the spring, if you notice standing water in your gutters, it is likely a bird’s nest, which may be easily removed to restore gutter functionality.
6. Objects from Outside in Your Gutters
Tennis balls, softballs, golf balls, and even small toys can occasionally block your gutters. The solution is straightforward: remove them so that water can flow freely.
Ice Dams in Gutters
In the winter, when heat from your home escapes into the attic, it heats the roof decking and causes snow to melt. The melting snow then runs to the roof’s frigid edges, where it refreezes. During the winter, this process continues until the borders of your roof are covered by ice dams which are composed of solid ice chunks. Ice dams can cause substantial damage to your home due to their weight, including:
- Roof leaks
- Structural damage
- Peeling paint
- Water discolors
- Mold and mildew development
- Broken or damaged roofs and gutters
- Slippery sidewalks
- Landscaping and cellar floods
Although gutters contribute to the production of ice dams, numerous other variables also contribute to this issue. Here are the five most prevalent.
Common Causes of Gutter Ice Dams
1. Clogged Gutters
When leaves, branches, and other debris clog your gutters, they become obstructed. These obstructions hinder water and melting snow from flowing freely from your residence. Instead, it collects on your roof’s eaves, causing an ice dam to form.
2. Improper Installation of Gutters
If your roofing contractor improperly built your gutters, your home could sustain water damage, structural damage, and ice dams. During the winter, gutters protect your home by directing melted snow away from it to prevent ice development.
3. Insufficient Insulation
If your home’s attic is not adequately insulated, heat might escape, causing snow to melt and refreeze on the eaves. Due to the complexity of their roof designs, certain types of residences, such as many in Chicago’s Historic District, are particularly susceptible to ice dam formation.
Certain roofs have greater eaves and valleys, which nearly guarantees the production of ice dams.
4. Poor Ventilation
Improper attic ventilation traps heat in your home, warming the roof decking and causing ice dams to form.
How Drip Edges Can Help
A drip edge is an angled metal item installed along the roof’s edge to guide water away from the roof and into the gutters. Typically manufactured from a non-corrosive, non-staining metal, such as aluminum, galvanized steel, or copper, drip edges prevent the creation of ice dams by directing water away from the home.
If something hinders gutters from functioning properly, water will simply run over the sides of the gutters, causing a variety of issues such as:
- Deteriorating or discolored siding
- Deteriorating or damaged vegetation
- Rotted fascia boards on the eaves
- Crumbling sidewalks and pavement (sometimes ice patches if temperatures later drop below freezing point)
- Flooded cellars
- Foundations with fissures, bulges, or shifts
- Leaks in windows and joints
Throughout the year, gutters are simple to miss. But when storms strike, they become impossible to ignore. But what causes gutters to overflow? Below are the three most prevalent reasons for clogged and overflowing gutters.
Reasons Why Gutters Overflow
1. Debris Clogging Up
The leading cause of gutter overflow is a blockage. Leaves and other debris might clog gutters; perhaps a ball or other toys have been entangled in the gutter. Roofing granules, plastic bags, and broken tree branches can also clog gutters. If the gutter is not cleaned regularly, leaves and other debris can clog the gutter. We recommend gutter cleaning at least twice each year, in the spring and fall.
2. Incorrectly Positioned Gutters
Another reason gutters may leak is if they are improperly pitched. When gutters are horizontal, they slope toward the downspouts. This is typically the result of faulty installation but can occur over time as your gutters channel heavy rainfall. The pitch changes as gutters droop or slide away from the house. They then fill with water and move further away from the home. A slope that is too steep can also produce overflow, while a slope that is too shallow can cause rainwater to pool in one area instead of moving toward the exit.
3. Your Gutters are Hanging Too Low
The gutters may also be hung too low or without adequate space between the house and the gutter system, causing water to overflow the gutters. Occasionally, the gutters may be too tiny to accommodate the amount of roof-draining rainwater. In such a circumstance, you may need to put larger gutters on your home.
Incorrectly Pitched Gutters
The gutter slope, often known as its pitch, is the degree to which the gutters slope downward along the water flow channel. This slope is largely undetectable, which is why, from a distance, gutters appear parallel to the roofline. Without a gutter slope, water will pool in your gutters and not flow to the downspouts. However, an excessive slope has its own challenges. A steep gutter slope decreases the water capacity of the gutters, makes the gutters appear odd, and can cause water to splash outside the gutters during heavy rain.
Starting from the opposite corner of the downspout position, gutter installation experts recommend a 1/4-inch pitch for every 10 feet of guttering.
Too Much Pitch
When the gutter pitch is misjudged and there is an excessive amount of pitch, the acute angle might cause the rainfall to go too quickly. Overflowing gutters direct undirected water upwards into the soffit and fascia, down the siding, and into foundation fissures.
Not Enough Pitch
If water flow is sluggish or nonexistent, this is typically due to an inappropriate gutter slope. Too little pitch prevents water from moving downward. When water accumulates in the gutter channel, it weighs down the gutters and stresses the fascia, eventually causing gutter and fascia board damage.
Damage from Mature Trees
Large, well-established trees give benefits such as wind protection, roof shading, protection from UV radiation, prevention of soil erosion, and reduced air conditioning expenses. But they can have disadvantages.
How Mature Trees Can Damage Your Gutters
The Trees Are Old
Aged and frail trees might pose a hazard to the safety of your home. When they collapse, not only will your property be injured, but so will your family members. Due to the extra weight of snow or ice, they can be particularly hazardous during the winter.
They Are Too Near Your Residence
Small animals and insects can use neighboring trees to gain access to your dwelling. When trees are too close to a house, they can cause gutters to become clogged. The danger of water damage, basement flooding, and landscape erosion is increased by ineffective gutters. This tree debris can also lead to ice dams and roof leaks. Schedule regular gutter and roof cleaning services to help avoid these difficulties.
Tree Roots Can Also Be Harmful
Roots from nearby trees with invasive root systems can penetrate underground drainage pipelines, especially those that are leaking. The leaks from the pipes can encourage roots. They will eventually enter the problematic pipe and impede water flow.
Gutters Pulling Away From Your House
While sagging gutters might be a problem, gutters that are peeling away from the roof pose a greater threat. As gutters detach from the roof, they lose the capacity to provide adequate drainage. This issue can lead to an accumulation of water and debris, resulting in clogged gutters.
Improper installation is a typical cause of gutters detaching from the roof. Many homeowners have discovered the hard way that having a buddy install home features at a bargain can result in higher expenses in the long run. When it comes to something as important as your home’s roof, you should avoid taking shortcuts and instead rely on trained professionals. Installers must use the right tools and adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions to keep the warranties on the materials intact.
The portion of a roof that covers the ends of the beams (or rafters) is known as the fascia. Due to the weight of water, leaves, and other debris clogging the gutter system, the gutters might pull away from the fascia. This additional weight can lead to gutter sagging.
Seamless gutters are a method that removes the issues presented by segmented gutters that are fastened together. If the fasteners are not installed properly, the gutters may pull away. Additionally, excessive seams might cause portions to detach. Incorrect hanger spacing may result in sagging gutters, which places stress on fasteners. During installation, a gutter must be pitched properly to prevent water accumulation.
Rusting can occur when certain metals, such as iron or steel, mix with water. Rust consumes metals and can develop holes in gutters. Rust also damages the exterior and curb appeal of your home.
Reasons Why Rust Forms on Gutters
The majority of trees do not shed leaves throughout the springtime. However, they do shed flowers, seed pods, and pollen. Unchecked, some tree pollen is extremely corrosive and hazardous to your gutters. Acidic tree pollen can completely remove the covering from aluminum, leaving it susceptible to rust and corrosion.
Extreme temperature swings might also accelerate the deterioration of your gutters over time. When temperatures undergo repeated severe fluctuations, the aluminum’s structure begins to degrade. For instance, if the temperature reaches 90 degrees during the day but drops to 40 degrees at night, we would refer to this as excessive temperature swings.
Protect Your Home with a Reliable Gutter System
At LeafCo Gutters, we understand how vital it is to protect your home’s foundation with a reliable gutter system. Our gutter installation team treats your home like their own and gives attention to detail so you can have confidence in your home. We install aluminum gutters by Mastic (which come with a 20-year warranty) and steel gutters by Nordic.
Protect your biggest investment—your home—with reliable, beautiful new gutters. Get a free quote today.
Recent Gutter Problem Articles:
- What Causes Gutters to Fall or Loosen?
- Top 5 Reasons Your Gutters Are Overflowing
- 7 Signs Your Gutters Are Clogged
- What Is Gutter Pitch—and Why Does It Matter?
- 15 Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Gutters
- 5 Gutter Problems Caused by Chicago Winters
- How to Prevent Gutter Damage Caused by Mature Trees
- What Causes Gutters to Sag and Why It’s Vital to Repair Them
- Do Gutter Guards Cause Icicles to Form?
- Are My Gutters or Gutter Guards Causing Ice Dams on My Roof?