While gutter rust is rare, keeping an eye out for it can help you prolong the lifespan of your current gutters, saving you money. Your gutters may be small, but they have an important job: channeling water away from your home.
Read on to discover ways to help avoid rusty gutters and what to do if you spot rust (early on), so you can get the greatest benefit out of the gutters you have.
Three Ways to Prevent Your Gutters from Rusting
A little knowledge goes a long way when it comes to gutter maintenance. You can avoid the problem of rust with home exterior maintenance.
1. Understand that tree pollen is acidic and shouldn’t sit in your gutters indefinitely.
PVC gutters can’t rust because they are plastic, but aluminum gutters can rust—beginning in the spring. Why? Because tree pollen is so acidic that it can damage your aluminum gutters over time by eating through them.
It rains a lot each spring in Chicago, so pollen should flush through your gutters without harming them. But when there is no rain for several weeks amidst pollen season, your gutters could start to rust as a result. Once pollen is on your roof and gutters, add a little moisture from the morning dew, and the deterioration process begins.
Damage occurs when pollen makes its way into your gutter system while it’s dry outside. And then if there is no rain for weeks, gutter damage begins as rust starts to form. If your gutter system isn’t clogged up, when acidic tree pollen drops onto your roof and gutter system, it makes its way through your gutters easily since pollen is so small and there is nothing obstructing it.
Proactive steps to prevent rust: If it’s pollen season and rain is nowhere in the forecast, rinse your roof off thoroughly and allow pollen to flow through your gutter system and away from your home via your downspouts. You can do this from the safety of the ground with your garden hose. This simple practice will help your current gutters last and prevent rusting.
2. Realize that corrosion can take place when two different types of metal come into contact with each other.
If you use two different types of metal in your gutter system, and the metals come into contact with each other through a conductor—like water—which flows through your gutters, it will cause them to rust.
Proactive steps to prevent rust: To keep rust and corrosion at bay, ensure your gutter system is made of only one type of metal—including the hardware that keeps it in place. Aluminum gutters should have comparable components, and copper gutter systems require all copper components and hardware.
3. Recognize that ignoring gutter maintenance can promote rust formation.
If you are out of the habit of cleaning your gutters, they will eventually get clogged up with leaves, sticks, and other debris. The water they are built to channel away from your home will remain stagnant inside them, causing debris to begin to decompose.
Clogs add fuel to the fire if your gutters have already been exposed to acidic pollen or reactions to other metals, initiating rust formation. Skipping regular gutter maintenance (like cleaning) will make the deterioration happen more rapidly, allowing rust to eat holes in your gutters.
Proactive step to prevent rust: Clean your gutters at least once a year.
What to Do if Your Gutters Are Already Rusting
If you catch the problem early enough, you can sand the rust off.
Sanding rust off your gutters is one way to slow its spread. Grab some sandpaper and clean the rust off thoroughly. Next, seal your gutter with a waterproof primer.
If you already have rust holes in your gutters, you’ll need to replace them.
There really isn’t any way to salvage gutters with holes in them, particularly if they were made by rust. You can try to caulk rust holes, but that will work only temporarily. You’ll need to replace your gutters to avoid damage to your home’s foundation.
Extend the Life of Your Gutters with Proper Maintenance
Don’t risk shortening the lifespan of your gutters by neglecting their needed maintenance. Clean them regularly, and rinse them and your roof well if it’s a dry pollen season. Reach out to our pros at LeafCo Gutters for your home’s gutter replacement.
Check out our Homeowner’s Guide to Common Gutter Problems, and gain valuable insight into how to solve gutter issues.