Most of us don’t know much about gutters until we purchase our first house, and even then it’s not something we tend to pay much attention to until the first signs of problems. Total gutter replacement likely won’t be cheap, but the further damage that can be caused to your home if your gutters malfunction can put an even bigger dent in your wallet, which is why you should take steps to maintain them routinely and keep a lookout for signs they need to be replaced. Knowing when to replace gutters depends on a few things and has a lot to do with the weather in your area.
Most gutters will last between 20 and 50 years, depending on what type of material they are made of. A simple aluminum or galvanized steel gutter system will likely be due for replacement around the 20-year mark while other materials such as copper are known to last much longer.
Though about twenty years is a good estimate, homeowners should still examine their gutters, at least on a yearly basis. There are telling signs that your gutters need to be replaced, some that could cause a hefty expense if not taken care of quickly. While you’re out and examining your home, try to keep a lookout for these 10 telling signs that your gutters need to be addressed.
Here are 10 Signs that You Need to Replace Your Gutters
1. Cracks, Rust, Holes
Crakes, rust spots, and holes in your gutters need your immediate attention. You can patch up small cracks and tiny holes with some sealant, which will keep your gutters doing their job for a bit longer. What you really have to watch for are large holes and big spots of rust that look like they’re about to give out.
When you see large spots of rust, holes, or cracks in several spots around your gutters, it may be time to replace them. Attempting to patch up large breakage along your gutters will wind up costing you more in the long run and could result in damage to your roof that will be much more than total gutter replacement.
2. Flimsy Fasteners
Fasteners are little pieces of metal responsible for attaching your gutters to your roof. Though these guys are small, They keep your gutters at the correct height so that water drains away from your roof and house properly. If you see that fasteners are either missing or loose, you may be able to fix it up yourself with a screwdriver and a few parts.
If after you tighten everything up you have issues with leakage or drainage, there may be another underlying issue with your gutters that needs your attention.
3. Appearance of Nails and Screws
While out mowing the lawn or doing other yard work you find random nails or screws, they might be coming from your gutter. As water, dirt, and other debris make their way into your gutters, they have to be able to hold up the weight. Mix that with a bit of wind and you could have a combination that will shake screws loose.
When you see that nails or screws are missing, you may be able to find where they came from and put them back where they belong. However, it may be due to parts rusting away or other damage, hardware falling from your gutters into your yard is a sign that maintenance or replacement is needed.
4. Gutter Gaps
Your entire gutter system is made up of smaller pieces attached together. This is what is responsible for the even flow of water from one place to another, taking it away from your home and down the ground to avoid accumulation. If any pieces along the way are separated, you could have leaks that don’t allow water to flow properly.
Getting gutters back together is something that you can probably take care of on your own, just screwing them back together. However, if you notice that they continue to separating, It may be time to consider replacing your gutters.
5. Separating Gutters
Remember those fasteners we mentioned above? As we mentioned, they are there to keep your gutters attached to the roof. If they start to loosen up, you’ll begin to see something that looks like your gutters are trying to escape. If you see your gutters starting to separate from the side of your house, this is a sign that maintenance, or possibly full replacement of your gutters is needed.
6. Gutter Sag
If you live in areas where it rains all the time or happens to live near a lot of trees, stuff probably accumulates in your gutters all the time. This build-up of stuff can cause your system to sag, making it collect much more weight over time. Gutter sag will ensure that the water that’s making its way there will not drain, which could wind up making your gutters snap under the pressure. For this issue, you might not have any other choice but to fully replace your gutters, making sure that you have them in good shape before the rainy season comes in full swing.
7. Cracking Paint
Over time, water can wear down lots of things, including the paint on your home. If you don’t happen to notice issues with your gutters first, maybe you notice some peeling paint along the sides of your house or just right under the gutters. If you do, chances are you have separation of gutters from your roof that causes leakage.
Noticing cracking or peeling paint is probably a sign that you need to check your gutters. Looking right above where the peeling is taking place, you’ll find the issue, able to determine whether it is something that you can fix yourself or whether it’s time to give your old gutters a kick and add some new ones into the mix.
8. Pooling Water
After a storm, you may notice that water starts to spill over your gutters. Maybe it’s a gush of wind that makes the water come flying out but, whatever it is, you still need to consider getting to the bottom of the issue. Gutters are not supposed to collect and keep water but instead send it flowing down and away from the roof.
Pooling water will settle and could cause your gutters to sag and eventually bust if you don’t take care of it quickly. In the summer months, this is extremely important too, keeping pesky insects like mosquitoes and flies far away from you and your home when as much as possible.
9. Water Damaged Landscaping
Some water is good for plants, grass, trees, and many other outdoor themes. However, if you have too much water, there could be damage done that makes plants die as the ground has too much moisture. Both of these circumstances are not good for your lawn and could wind up resulting in long-term or irreversible damage.
If you start to notice spots where lots of moisture is collecting around your lawn, you may need to replace your gutters. The way that they are designed, they are meant to carry water to a particular place that won’t result in erosion of your landscape and keep your home, plants, and more, safe.
10. Flooding in Basement
If you’ve got water coming into the basement, you’ve got a big problem on your hands. Gutters that leak can allow water to get very close to the foundations of your home, softening the ground beneath and seeping right through the foundation walls. It’s not the gutter replacement that will cost you an arm and a leg but the possible damages that you could experience due to leakage into your home.
If you start to see signs of moisture creeping into your basement or home, check your gutters to see if there are any issues. If you see that there are major cracks or leaks, they will need to be replaced. Even if it’s an issue you can patch up, you need to think about the replacement soon, keeping your home safe from possible water damages.
The Importance of Keeping Your Gutters Clean
Maintaining your gutters won’t cost you much, though it is something that you should do often. Keeping screws and fasteners tightened up and making sure that any small holes or cracks are patched can help you keep your gutters up and running well for years to come. Part of keeping your gutters healthy is keeping them clean, making sure they’re in good shape before a rainy season.
It’s important to keep your gutters cleaned and maintained, preventing any blocking, busting, or other things while you’re at it.
Gutter Maintenance Tips to Prevent Breaks and Leaks
To prevent build-up and damages that result in leaks and breaks, you should keep your gutters properly maintained. To keep them in the best shape all year round, here are a few things that you can add to your list of house chores that will keep you from an expensive replacement.
1. Clear them Up
A lot of us don’t think about our gutters and keeping them in good shape until they start to cause problems. One key thing to keeping them running smoothly is to keep things from building up or blocking things. On top of that, you have to push things out of the way, allowing water to make its way from around your house and down.
Shoot for cleaning them out every couple of months and increase that if you find that you get more buildup. More buildup could come from trees that you have close to you or more extreme weather that blows dirt and debris near your gutters. To do this, simply take a ladder and work your way around your home brushing stuff out of the line. Gutter cleaning tools can also make this process much easier and faster.
2. Watch for Ice
As the winter months come around, the weather starts to get cooler. These colder months can bring about freezes that create ice which blocks up the flow of water even further. Leaving your gutters frozen can result in damage to your roof and the gutters themselves. The swelling and expanding of ice and cause the gutters to expand, resulting in their damage.
If the damage gets to your roof, you could be at risk for cracks that create leaks all around. Keep your gutters nice and clean before an ice storm and, if you have one, make sure to clear out water before it hardens and freezes to prevent irreparable damage.
3. Test them Out
While you’re doing your chores outside and around the house, you should also check your gutters here and there. To check your gutters, all you have to do is run water through them and watch what happens. Try and do this after each cleaning, keeping an eye out for leaks and making sure that water goes where it’s supposed to.
4. Check Downspouts
The final destination of the water that makes it to your gutter winds up going down into something called a downspout. The downspout is the final destination, shooting water away from your home. If it is clogged or broken, it could result in water coming into contact with your home, weakening the foundations.
Check for leaks around your downspout and make sure to keep it cleaned out as best as you can. Don’t let debris and leaves pile up and be sure that it’s free from gunk often.
5. Check out Gutter Guards
There is a new hot item on the market that is meant to prevent the build-up of debris in your gutters. They are called gutter guards and they work by covering spots where build-up happens the most. They are fairly inexpensive and can reduce the number of times you need to clean out your gutters year around.
Though you will still need to do maintenance and check for leaks and tears, you won’t have to do so as often with help from these little helpers.
Keep your Gutters in Check and your Home Safe
Your gutters play a large role in keeping your home in good shape. If you have a lot of water in your area due to rain, humidity, or snow, you’ll want to take extra care of your gutters so that they’re working well and protecting your home. As part of your list of things to maintain on your home, add your gutters to the list, using that as a time to check for signs that you need to change them.
If you see signs of wear and tear, you might be able to fix them on your own, patching things up and getting them back up and running in no time. However, if you see things that are beyond repair, you should replace your gutters in a timely manner, especially if it’s close to the rainy season. Not all gutters are made the same and some need more TLC than others. Having that said, get on a good routine with yours, checking them here and there to make sure they’re doing their job. Keep your gutters in check, and keep your home safe from water damage.
What Are Gutters Purpose?
Gutters are responsible for keeping water away from your house. If water were just left to roll off of your roof and onto the ground, the foundations of your home could weaken and immense damages could happen in the home. Gutters are especially important in places where it rains a lot, responsible for working hard to collect water and take it down and away from the home.
Water has a tendency to rot or mold things if it is built up in the same area for a long period of time. On top of that, it can be heavy if it adds up, collecting and eventually bursting objects if allowed to sit and collect. That’s why it’s important to keep your gutters clean and running smoothly, keeping the rain and collected water away from the home.
How Gutters Protect your Home
There are a number of ways that gutters protect your home. Water has a tendency to build up and, if left to soak in the ground or around your house, could do a lot more damage than you might have thought about. Before we get to signs that you should look for to replace your gutters, let’s take a look at how gutter protects your home.
When waterfalls to the ground, it has to go somewhere. While we see it on the surface for a short period, what we don’t see is what is happening below the surface. Without gutter designating water to a safe destination, water can make the soil surrounding your home moist and cause erosion of the landscape.
Keep The Foundation from Weakening
As the soil starts to erode, the ground starts to move more, which could cause your foundation to shift. Any kind of significant change in the foundation of your home can cause serious structural problems that could cost much more than you might imagine. With too much water falling close to your home, you could expect big issues to come in the near future.
Protects your Siding
The siding of your home is vulnerable to water, especially if it’s made of wood. As the water drips down, it could strip the paint or even wear down the material, creating a big mess for you and a big cost if you’re not careful. Gutters keep water from dripping down the sides of your house, guiding it to a place where it won’t do damage.
When water comes into contact with wood and other vulnerable materials for an extended period of time, it can cause rot. Rotting wood is a target for insects that feed on materials. If you don’t catch these bugs quickly, you could be looking at extensive damage that could mean costly repairs.
Because of the number of creepy crawlers in rotting wood, birds like woodpeckers will come flying around, knowing that they will have a slew of insects to choose from. If you have insects feeding on the interior of your home and a woodpecker beating on bits of wood to get to them, you could have a big problem to deal with which you could have prevented with well-working gutters.
Protects your Roof
Gutters work to protect your roof, keeping water and ice from building up. If gutters don’t drain water properly, it could result in water seeping into the roof, which could damage it beyond repair. This damage could cause leaks that take more than you bargained for to fix, creating a big mess that you might not want to deal with.
With all the reasons why gutters work to protect your house, they are something that you want to take care of. Make sure that your gutters are clean and set up properly, leading water down and away from your roof and siding as they should. The better you take care of them, the more effective they will be at protecting your home from deterioration due to water damage due to continued exposure.
Although the importance of gutters is often overlooked, they serve a very important purpose. If you have any questions about when to replace gutters or what signs to look for let us know in the comments below. Taking some to maintain your gutters will increase their lifespan and keep them working properly.
Hello, my name is Chris and I was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania. I’m an engineer with experience in medical technology, steel and materials, and nuclear power industries. I have been with my current employer for more than 5 years developing digital control systems for nuclear power plants.
I’m also a homeowner with a growing range of home renovation experience. My goal is to take all my technical knowledge and first-hand experience and translate it into high-quality content to support all of your home guide needs. Whether it be step-by-step guides, technical consultation, or product reviews, my aim is to make all your home projects a great success!