When something is wrong with the gutters, a common reaction is to fix the problem. But if you don’t know their history or when they were installed, how do you know if the gutters should be replaced rather than repaired? The deciding factor is the extent to which the gutters are damaged.
Age isn’t the Only Factor
Aluminum gutters and seamless aluminum gutters can last 25 to 30 years. Vinyl gutters, when well-maintained, have a lifespan of 15 to 20 years. However, other factors come into play, such as the amount of annual rainfall a gutter system handles and daily environmental conditions. Just because gutters are “old” doesn’t automatically mean they can’t be repaired.
Common Gutter Problems
The three common gutter problems that impact the decision to repair or to replace a gutter system are: sagging gutter sections, leaks and poor pitch.
Sagging gutters: Gutters sag for a number of reasons including heavy rainfall and large amounts of debris adding weight to gutter sections. Gutters pulling away from the fascia compromise the whole gutter system.
Leaks: If seams become worn due to normal expansion and contraction, gaps between joints can appear, letting water escape. When leaking gutters are made of metal, rusting can occur. Rust eats away the gutter material; more than 5 to 10 rust spots might be an indication that the gutters are deteriorating past the point where patching is a cost-effective solution.
Poor pitch: Gutters should gradually slope downward to facilitate guiding rainwater toward the downspouts. Poor pitch is typically caused by improper calculations or misalignment. Calculating the correct pitch and then re-sloping the gutter system should fix the problem. However, if the gutters have become unaligned on their own, it could be an indication of a structural issue occurring somewhere else.
How Much Damage?
When deciding whether you should replace your gutters or repair them the best gauge is the degree of damage. If you are constantly re-sealing seams to stop leaks; or when readjusting the hangers doesn’t fix the standing water problem (poor pitch); or continually cleaning out the gutters makes no difference to the amount of strain put on nails and fasteners (sagging), then perhaps it’s time to consider replacing your gutters.