Before You Decide to Replace the Gutters

The gutters aren’t looking great. Or you don’t know exactly how old they were when you bought the house and that’s been over ten years. Or you installed aluminum gutters fifteen years ago but now there’s a bunch of rust spots. Gutters, depending on a number of factors, can last a long time with the proper care. So, how do you know if it’s too soon to install new gutters? Before you decide to replace the gutter system do some investigating first before pronouncing them unsalvageable.

Are the gutters clean inside and out?

When was the last time you cleaned the gutters? If you don’t know or it’s been more than three years, cleaning the gutters is a good place to start. Remove all of the debris from inside the gutter channel. Clean the downspouts just as thoroughly. Once that has been done, rinse the inside of the gutter system and wipe away any surface grime from the outside of the gutters and the downspouts.

Salvageable no: Once the gutters are clean inside and outside, look for peeling paint, rust spots, and buckling – all indicators of gutters that need replacing.

Salvageable yes: If there are no signs of damage, you most likely don’t need a new gutter system.

Are gutters pulling away from the fascia?

Gutters sagging could be a simple fix. Inspect the hardware and fasteners that hold the gutter system in place. Check the front lawn and backyard for any gutter system hardware that has fallen on to the ground.

Salvageable no: If you discover brackets and fasteners on the lawn, it’s a sign that the gutters have been pulling away from the fascia for a while. Inspect the gutter system for warped or missing sections. When a specific gutter section can’t be replaced or there are too many repairs to make the system functional again, replace the gutters.

Salvageable yes: A new gutter system won’t be needed if the hardware is not damaged and you have tightened it and it remains firmly in place.

Is there excess moisture in the basement?

Signs of excess moisture – water stains, mildew, and mould – on basement walls could be an indication that water has spilled from the gutters and seeped through the foundation. To troubleshoot the gutter system check:

  • For clogs in the gutters and downspouts
  • If the gutters are free of debris, the gutter slope to ensure water is being directed toward the downspouts
  • The downspouts to make sure water is not being deposited too close to the foundation
  • For damaged gutter sections, leaking seams, and loose downspouts

Salvageable no: If troubleshooting doesn’t work (e.g. still overflows after adjusting the gutter pitch or too many leaking seams to repair) it will most likely be more cost-effective to replace the gutters sooner rather than later.

Salvageable yes: If you can make a few minor repairs; a downspout extension or upgrading to a larger downspout size stops water from seeping into the foundation; or readjusting the gutter slope fixes the overflow issue, your gutters will probably not need replacing for a few more years.

Do you want to upgrade the gutter system?

You don’t like the colour of the gutters any more. They’re not as sleek looking as the gutter system the neighbours recently had installed. Yeah, they still work, but they’re a little outdated. It’s true: selecting a new gutter profile that adds a unique architectural element to your home’s exterior will improve its appearance.

Salvageable no:  On the other hand, a gutter system that appears worn or outdated, even if it’s working, can chase away potential buyers. Vinyl gutters are prone to colour fading and can look very dingy. If you plan on selling your house in the near future, replacing vinyl gutters or worn aluminum gutters for new seamless aluminum gutters could make your home look more attractive.

Salvageable yes: If the upgrade is a cosmetic fix to boost curb appeal you might want to wait until supply chain issues, prices, and other concerns facing the construction industry have returned to pre-pandemic normals.