Gutters can help keep a basement dry, prevent landscaping from washing away and add decades to the life of a foundation. But if they’re not working correctly, they can be a major headache. This article is all about easy DIY gutter repairs for the most common gutter problems. We built a little section of roof with gutters to make it easier to see what’s going on.
The fix: Better brackets
Years ago, spikes and ferrules were a common method for hanging gutters. They do the job all right, but eventually the spikes work themselves loose. Pounding them back in is a temporary fix at best.
One way to make sure your gutter doesn’t fall off the house is to install fascia hanger brackets. Installation is simple: Just hook the bracket under the front lip of the gutter, and then screw the other side of the bracket to the fascia. Leave the old spikes in place—a spike head looks better than a hole in the gutter.
Water Gets Behind the Gutter
The fix: Install new flashing
If water is dripping behind your gutter, it’s probably because it was installed without any flashing over the back of the gutter. Gutter apron will prevent the dripping.
Gutter apron is a bent piece of flashing that tucks up under the shingles and over the gutter. Home centers sell 10-ft. sections. You may have to temporarily remove your hangers as you go, or you can notch out the apron around them. Once the apron’s in place, fasten it with sheet metal screws.
Use roll flashing for gaps
If there’s a drip edge installed where the fascia meets your shingles and the gutter is hung below the drip edge, get some roll flashing and tuck it up under the drip edge and over the top of the gutter. Home centers sell rolls of 6-in. x 10-ft. aluminum flashing. Use a tin snips to cut the roll in two 3-in. strips. If your gutters are steel, buy steel roll flashing, because galvanized steel corrodes aluminum.
The fix: Drop in a rope
Is the sound of dripping in your downspouts driving you mad? Eliminate the problem by tying a rope onto one of the gutter hangers and running it down into the downspout. Drops of water will cling to the rope instead of plummeting the whole length of the downspout and causing that loud dripping noise.
Adding a rope does restrict water flow, so this may not be the best option if your gutter is prone to overflowing or if your downspout is easily clogged with twigs and leaves. Buy a rope made of a synthetic like nylon—a rope made from natural fibers will rot away.
No Slip Joint
The fix: Make your own!
If a tree branch falls on the last 4 ft. of your 60-ft. seamless gutter, you don’t need to replace the whole thing; just replace the damaged section. If your gutters are white or brown, adding a section of gutter to an existing section is easy. Most home centers sell white and brown sections of gutters as well as slip joints to tie them together.
If your gutters are a custom color, a home center can special-order your color but not the slip joint to match. But don’t worry; you can make your own from a box miter, and box miters are available in every color gutters are made.
When you buy your new gutter section, make sure you order either an inside or outside box miter at the same time. Cut a 3-in. section from the box miter with a tin snips, and you’ve got yourself a custom slip joint. Hang the new gutter next to the old one, and then slide the patch under the seam.
Water Spills Over Gutter
The fix: Add a diverter
Some roofs have long sections of valley that carry a lot of rainwater at high velocity. When that water comes blasting out the end of the valley, it can shoot right over the gutter. A diverter will help direct the water back into the gutter where it belongs. Fasten a diverter with a couple of sheet metal screws to the top of the outside edge of the gutter. Diverters are sold at home centers and online.
Downspout in the Way
The fix: Add some hinges
Are you tired of removing your downspouts every time you mow? Consider installing a hinge where the lowest elbow meets the section of downspout that runs into your yard.
Installation is simple: Just cut the downspout at a 45-degree angle with a tin snips or metal-cutting blade and fasten the hinge with sheet metal screws. You’ll find them online with a search for “gutter hinges.”
The fix: Seal the seams
Every connection on a metal gutter needs to be sealed: end caps, splices, drop outlets and miters. Buy a product that’s specifically formulated to seal gutter seams. Seam sealer can handle submersion for long periods of time. It’s also resistant to light, which it will get plenty of.
Most important, high-quality seam sealer is runny, so it can penetrate down into the seam for a durable, long-lasting connection. Most products refer to this property as “self-leveling.” And the runnier the better, so if you’re applying it on a cold day, keep the seam sealer somewhere warm so it stays fluid.
Try to remove as much of the old sealer as you can, and make sure the area you’re sealing is completely dry. Home centers usually stock seam sealer near the gutter parts.
The fix: A larger downspout
If you have a 50-ft. gutter with one 2 x 3-in. downspout, your gutter probably overflows during heavier rainfalls. When installing an additional downspout isn’t an option, install a 3 x 4-in. downspout in place of the smaller one.
Start by removing the old downspout. Use the new 3 x 4-in. drop outlet that you buy with your new downspout as a template to trace an outline for the larger hole. You can cut out the larger hole with a tin snips, or you could use an oscillating multi-tool equipped with a metal-cutting blade. Insert the drop outlet in the hole and fasten the new downspout with sheet metal screws. Make sure to seal the drop outlet to the gutter with seam sealer.
You’ll need one downspout, one drop outlet, three elbows and two wall clips. If you need a color other than white or brown, it will be a special order at a home center, but you should be able to get the color you need.
Sidewalk in the way
The fix: A rollout spout
There is no perfect way to get water from one side of a sidewalk to the other, but consider installing a retractable downspout. It rolls out when it rains and then rolls back up when the water stops flowing. Products like these do leak when the water flow is too light to extend the plastic downspout, but they should keep your landscaping from washing away during moderate to heavy rains.
Retractable downspouts are super easy to hook up, and they might be just the solution you’re looking for. Pick one up at a home center or order online.
Photo courtesy of Frost King