How to Properly Inspect Your Gutters

Your gutters keep your home protected from the elements by directing water from the roof into the gutter system. But in order for them to do that, they must be well-maintained. Home maintenance that includes regular gutter cleaning and a visual inspection will help you eliminate common gutter problems and early detect issues that might crop up.

Conduct a preliminary inspection.

To see exactly what you will be dealing with, conduct a preliminary inspection from the ground using binoculars.

Aim them at the roof – assess how much debris has accumulated on your roof. If there are a lot of leaves, twigs, and other bits of organic materials, you will want to make a note that the roof will need to be cleaned first before the major fall gutter cleaning.

Step back from your home’s exterior and train the binoculars directly at the gutter run starting at the opposite of the downspout. Move the binoculars slowly toward the other end, checking to see that the gutters attached to each downspout in the gutter system is sloped correctly to encourage rainwater to run “downhill.”

When standing directly under the eaves, use the binoculars to examine the seams of gutter sections where two have been joined together. If possible, do this when it is raining – if the sealant is worn, you will be able to see water leaking through the gaps or holes.

Inspect the gutter system.

To look inside the gutter channels, you will most likely need a ladder. Set it up correctly on flat, dry ground. Make sure it’s in good working condition and you use ladder safety protocols while climbing up and down the rungs. While standing on the ladder, when conducting a visual inspection look for signs of damage including:

  • Debris build-up around gutter outlets
  • Standing water
  • Gaps where seams and end caps should be tightly sealed
  • Holes
  • Sagging
  • Spaces between the back of the gutters and the fascia
  • Missing gutter sections
  • Dented or missing downpipes
  • Loose, missing, or broken hardware

If the gutters are too full of debris to check for standing water, holes, or leaks, clear away enough debris until you can see the bottom of the gutter channel. When working from the ladder, don’t overreach – move it along the gutter run as needed.

Inspect areas around the gutters and downspouts.

Are there overgrown trees near the roof and gutters? Trim back branches and limbs that can drop debris onto the roof or into the gutters.

Examine soffit for soft spots – it can be indication of water escaping from the gutters and splashing up into the soffit panels.

Check for soil that has been washed out along the foundation – it can be caused by overflowing gutters.

A DIY gutter inspection is a useful method to see what the gutters are up to especially after a heavy rain storm, hail storm, or windstorm. However, in the interest of safety and getting the job done in a timely manner, hire a trusted gutter contractor when:

  • Damage is extensive
  • There are a number of different types of repairs needed to be made
  • Soffit or fascia show signs of wood rot
  • The repair is in a hard to reach place