Easy Gutter Fixes You Can DIY

Updated: Jun. 26, 2024

Gutter problems? Fix them yourself with these DIY-able fixes from an expert.

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Gutters move water off your roof and away from your foundation, so it’s important they work right. “Damaged gutters can be worse than no gutters at all,” says Noah Lantz, director of the Rain Gutter Association and owner of Gutter Hunks in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Without gutters, when it rains, “water is going to be evenly distributed along the roofline,” Lantz says. But if your gutters are damaged, “they take all that water from the roof and dump it into one spot around your house. It causes a huge amount of erosion, just in that one spot,” completely defeating the reason you got gutters in the first place.

Not to worry. Ahead, Lantz describes some easy DIY gutter fixes you can do yourself. One note of caution: “If you’re dealing with a significant height, then it makes a lot of sense to just call someone to do it, even if it’s one story,” Lantz says. “Most ladder injuries happen at less than 6 feet, believe it or not.” Always practice proper ladder safety and enlist a helper when needed.

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Easy Gutter Fixes You Can Diy Clean Your Gutters
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Clean Your Gutters

This one’s easy, and it’ll help prevent problems like leaks and sagging gutters down the road. Clean your gutters about once a year, Lantz says, depending on your tree cover. You don’t need any special tools, just a ladder, a scoop or spatula, a garden hose and maybe a bucket.

Don’t forget the downspouts. “If you just clean your gutters, the downspouts might still be clogged, and the gutters won’t function properly,” Lantz says. Disconnect the elbows and downspout pipe and shake them out. You might need to reach your hand inside to get things moving, so Lantz suggests wearing gloves. Run your hose through the pieces to clean them, then reassemble.

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Easy Gutter Fixes You Can Diy Hinge the Downspout
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Hinge the Downspout

Water pooling around your home is a major cause of foundation damage, so downspouts often have extensions on the bottom to carry water out into your lawn. That works great— until it’s time to mow. Then, you’re either fumbling to remove them each time or bumping the mower up against them and leaving a bunch of straggly grass you must get with the weed whacker.

Instead, add a downspout hinge. You can find them online or at any home improvement or hardware store. “They usually run from $10 to $25, and it just lets the downspout fold up,” Lantz says. They’re really easy to install, too. “Just cut the downspout with a pair of tin snips,” Lantz says. (You can also use a hacksaw.) Then, follow the directions for attaching the hinge to the two sections.

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Easy Gutter Fixes You Can Diy Fix Leaks
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Fix Leaks

Leaky gutters undermine the integrity of your entire gutter system by allowing water to drip onto your fascia or siding when it’s supposed to be headed for the downspout. Luckily, gutter sealant is widely available and easy to apply. “The most commonly used in the industry is Geocel 2320,” Lantz says. It comes in tubes that fit in a regular caulk gun.

Once you know where the leak is, safely climb up your ladder and scrape off the old sealant with a putty knife. Dry the area well and apply the new sealant to the leak. Allow to cure as directed. “As long as the gutter’s sloped properly, it should resolve the issue, assuming there are no holes in the material itself,” Lantz says.

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Easy Gutter Fixes You Can Diy Replace Gutter Hangers
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Replace Gutter Hangers

Today’s gutters are attached to your house with hidden hangers. One end has a clip that tucks under the front lip of the gutter, and the other has a screw that you drive right into the fascia. If you notice one of these is loose or damaged, it’s an easy one-to-one replacement by backing out the screw and installing a new hanger. Move it down a couple of inches if it doesn’t grab.

Older gutters used “spike and ferrule” systems. Spikes are long nails with a knobby texture on the end called knurling, and they’re hammered in from the outside of the gutter through long tubes called ferrules. Knurling makes it very hard to remove the spikes without damaging your gutter, Lantz says, and if you try to pound them back in, they’ll likely pop out again soon.

You can add a hidden hanger to shore up a loose spike and ferrule, but at best, it’s a temporary fix. “Your typical gutter has a lifespan of about 20 years, and spike and ferrule systems haven’t been used since the early 1990s,” Lantz says. A 30-year-old gutter probably has other issues, too, like sagging and a bad slope. Re-sloping a spike and ferrule gutter is difficult, so if that’s your situation, Lantz says it’s time to consider replacing your gutters.

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Easy Gutter Fixes You Can Diy Stop Overflow at Valleys
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Stop Overflow at Valleys

Roof valleys, where two sections of your roof meet in a “V,” can turn into rivers during a heavy downpour. If water overshoots the gutters at the bottom of your valleys, Lantz says to look into different types of mitered gutter corners. In particular, Lantz recommends an “extreme miter,” which is a corner piece with a basin at the bottom. It catches a lot more water than a regular corner, Lantz says.

Another option is a splash guard, which is flashing that attaches to the front of the gutter corner to deflect water back into the gutter. Rain diverters can help, too. If overshooting water is a persistent problem, “you might have a gutter that’s too small for the property,” Lantz says. Consider upsizing your system or adding a downspout, described in the next tip.

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Easy Gutter Fixes You Can Diy Add a Downspout
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Add a Downspout

Too few or too small downspouts can cause your gutters to back up, spill over, rust and leak. If you notice any of these problems, or if water continually overshoots the gutters at a valley, “consider placing a downspout, so the water funnels directly to the ground from that particular area rather than moving it somewhere else,” Lantz says.

You’ll need a hole saw, downspout sections and elbows, self-tapping screws, straps and sealant. You don’t have to take the existing gutter down. Just drill a hole and add the drop outlet that funnels water into the downspout, using sealant and screws to attach it. Connect downspout pieces and elbows to bring the gutter straight down the side of your house.

Lantz recommends DIYing straight runs only. “If you have a lot of stuff in the way, like windows, or maybe the house is cantilevered, it might be worth getting [a pro] out there.”

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Easy Gutter Fixes You Can Diy 61fi7ngf Kl. Ac Sl1000 Callouts Amerimax Aluminum Downspout Band Strap Via Amazon.com
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Secure a Downspout

When you install your new downspout, don’t forget to secure it to your house with downspout straps. These easy-to-DIY straps “wrap around the downspout and are screwed into the brick or siding,” Lantz says. If you notice any of your existing straps are loose or missing, now’s a good time to replace or tighten those, too.

Aesthetics play a role here, too, Lantz says. When an elbow meets a vertical section of pipe, there’s a seam. “The best-looking technique is to use the straps to cover up those seams, to make it look like there’s just one piece,” Lantz says. Place one strap at the top seam and one at the bottom.

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Easy Gutter Fixes You Can Diy Stop Water Getting Behind Gutters Fix the Gap Between the Gutter and Drip Edge
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Stop Water From Getting Behind Gutters

The drip edge is a piece of metal flashing installed at your roof’s edge. When water comes off your roof, it clings to the drip edge due to surface tension and gets deposited in the gutter. If a gutter installer or homeowner positions the gutter incorrectly, “the water tracks the drip edge and goes behind the gutter, and that causes damage to the fascia over time, especially if it’s exposed,” Lantz says.

You can do a couple of things here. Take the gutters down and put them back up, feeding the drip edge into the gutter, or install flashing, also called a gutter apron, after the fact. This L-shaped flashing attaches under the shingles to direct water into the gutters.

Fix the Gap Between the Gutter and Drip Edge

“Another thing you might see sometimes is a drip edge that might not be long enough, so you’ll have the gutter installed significantly beneath it,” Lantz says. Typically, this happens near the downspout, where the gutter’s pitched really low. (Gutters are sloped about a quarter-inch per ten feet to keep water moving toward the downspout, Lantz says.)

If you have a big gap between your gutter and the drip edge, install some flashing to extend the drip edge into the gutter.

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Easy Gutter Fixes You Can Diy Replace Gutter Hangers
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Repair the Gutter With a Slip Joint

If you have a short section of gutter that’s damaged, you don’t have to replace the entire run. Slip joints are short sections of gutter sold at home improvement stores that join two sections together. It’s a doable DIY project, but Lantz has reservations. One reason is the color. Gutters fade over time, so putting up a new section with a joint is going to be very noticeable. If that doesn’t bother you, go for it!

“It’s also going to be creating a seam, and seams are where leaks are most likely to occur,” Lantz says. “If you have a run of gutter that’s damaged, it just makes sense to replace that entire run rather than just replace a piece of it.”

About the Expert

Noah Lantz is the director of the Rain Gutter Association, which establishes rigorous training, certification and standards for rain gutter installation. He’s also the owner of Gutter Hunks, a company serving the Grand Rapids and greater Kent County, Michigan area.