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Water Damage: 4 Gutter Problems and How to Fix Them

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gutters house

Your gutter system plays a critical role in protecting your home from damage. During a rain storm, water from your roof enters your gutters where it's channeled into the downspouts and drains away from your home. But if there's any problem along the way - from your roof to the end of your downspouts - rain water can cause a whole host of issues.

Here are four common gutter problems, the issues they can cause, and how to fix them.

1.  Clogged gutters: Gutters getting clogged is one of the most common gutter issues, yet can potentially lead to the most problems. When gutters are full of leaves and debris, water can't effectively flow through them during a rain storm. This will cause the gutters to overflow, which can cause damage to your landscaping below and soil erosion. It could also cause water to pool at the foundation, leading to foundation damage and wet basements.

You should clean your gutters at least twice a year at the minimum. If your property has mature trees, you should clean them even more frequently. Clear out all the leaves, twigs, and other debris in the gutters.Then take your garden hose and hose down all the gutter runs. Force a blast of water from the hose down each downspout to dislodge any debris that might cause them to drain more slowly.

2.  Improper pitch: To be effective, each section of gutter leading towards the downspout needs to be slightly angled downward. Experts recommend at least one quarter of an inch slope for every 10 feet of gutters. You'll know your gutters aren't properly pitched if rain water overflows during a storm, or if you see standing water in the gutters after a storm. Problems with improper pitch can cause landscape and foundation damage. And standing water is the perfect spot for mosquitoes to breed.

To determine the pitch, snap a chalk line from the peak of the gutter to the downspout and see where it needs to be adjusted. Correcting the gutter pitch can sometimes be as simple as bending the gutter hanger to increase the angle of the gutter. But if that doesn't solve the issue, you'll need to remove that section of gutter and rehang it.

3.  Leaky gutters:  As gutters age, they can develop holes or leaks at the seams and joints. Or damage from a falling limb could cause a gash in the gutter. If left unaddressed, these leaks can become larger, allowing rain water to seep through and damage the ground below.

Smaller holes and leaky seams can be sealed with caulk designed specifically for gutter sealing. It should be applied to the inside of the gutter. Try to apply the caulk during a period of dry weather so it has time to completely dry. If you have a larger hole you may need to fix it with a gutter patch. Gutter patch kits can be purchased at home improvement stores.

4.  Sagging gutters:  Your gutters are held in place with hangers that are attached to the fascia board along your roof line. Over time, the hangers can become damaged or the hardware can pull away from the wood fascia. This can cause your gutters to sag, pull away from the roof line, or fall down completely.

Inspect your gutter hangers every time you clean your gutters. If any look damaged or you observe sections of the gutters pulling away from your home, replace the hangers. The hangers are inexpensive, and this easy fix can ward off more severe problems down the line.

The condition and stability of your gutter system is important to prevent damage to your home. Clogged gutters, improper pitch, gutter leaks, or sagging gutter sections can send rain water to places it shouldn't go. Landscape damage, soil erosion, foundation problems, and wet basements can all be prevented if your gutters are in prime working condition. Take the time this weekend to inspect your gutters!

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