Is it Really a Leak?

Gutters are important to the health of your home’s exterior. Well-maintained gutters safely drain rainwater off the roof and into the ground away from the foundation. You know that when you see water escaping from the gutter system by any way other than the downspouts, it’s not a good thing. But are you aware of the difference between overflowing gutters and leaking gutters?

Overflowing Gutters

When gutters overflow, water is escaping from over the top and then down the sides of the gutter sections. An overflowing gutter generally indicates that water is not being allowed to exit the gutter system. The main reason is clogs at the outlet where the downspout connects with the gutters or a buildup of debris in the gutter channel. Other reasons for gutters spilling over are blocked downpipes, drains filled with silt and/or debris and insufficient gutter pitch.

Leaking Gutters

Worn seams are the most likely cause of leaking gutters. The caulking or sealant that joins two gutters can be susceptible to environmental effects such as sun damage and the temperature (expansion and contraction). In the case of a leaking gutter section, rainwater will escape from the bottom or anywhere sealant has been applied, such as around an end cap and in external corners.

Overflowing vs. Leaks

An overflowing gutter typically stops doing so minutes after a medium to heavy rainfall. But leaking gutters often continue to drip water anywhere from 15 minutes up to 30 minutes after the rain has ended. The distinction between overflowing gutters and a leaking gutter system is an important one.

If gutters overflow – whether from some kind of blockage or insufficient gutter pitch – it’s a maintenance issue. But when gutters leak, it’s a repair problem that needs to be handled as soon as possible before concerns like mold, mildew and deterioration can develop. Knowing the difference between the two could help you decide to clean the gutters yourself or call someone to make the necessary repairs.