Signs and Causes of Loose Gutters

Homeowners are aware of the importance of home maintenance, especially regarding the roofing system, including the gutters. Regular visual inspections, once every season, are crucial to keeping your gutter system functional. Signs of loose gutters include leaning, rotting fascia, and overflowing. Knowing what causes sagging gutters will help you to troubleshoot them more efficiently.

Signs of Loose Gutters

Gutters Lean or Sag

The most common sign of loose gutters is that they lean or sag. There should be no gaps between the back of the gutter and the fascia. Downspouts should be securely fastened to exterior walls (no spaces).

Loose Hardware

Residential open gutter systems are typically attached to the fascia with gutter screws, also known as gutter nails or gutter spikes. One of the reasons gutters lean, shift, or sag is due to loosening hardware that leaves gaps between the fascia and the back of the gutter where rainwater can escape.

Rotting Fascia

Another reason that gutters pull away from the house is the fascia has become compromised.

The most common material for fascia boards is wood. If the fascia has been exposed to overflowing or leaking gutters, it can be susceptible to wood rot.

Overflowing Gutters

Clogged gutters can cause overflowing. If water is not allowed to flow through the gutter channels and out the downpipes unimpeded, it might escape in behind the gutters into the fascia boards or over the gutter lip and then down the siding.

Causes of Loose Gutters

Aging Gutters

Gutters can lose their grip on fascia boards due to natural wear and tear. Aluminum gutters are prone to contraction (cold weather) and expansions (hot weather), which can promote faster deterioration, causing the gutter system to sag, pull away from the house, or become warped (misshapen).

Not Installed Properly

Gutters that are not installed properly don’t work the way they should. Reasons for a poor installation include too few gutter hangers, wrong gutter slope, and not enough gutter screws.

Blocked or Clogged Gutter System

For a gutter system to efficiently drain water from the roof and out through the downspouts it must be cleaned regularly. When it isn’t bits of twigs, pods, old blossoms, pine cones, and pine needles form clogs in the gutters or downpipes (or both) that stop rainwater flowing easily through the gutter system. When neglected for long periods of time or even short intervals depending on the number of trees there are on the property, the combined weight of debris and standing water can cause gutters to become loose and then sag.

Troubleshooting Loose or Sagging Gutters

When gutters lean or sag, check to see if it’s the hardware’s fault. If it’s just a matter of loosening hardware (gutter screws/gutter nails/gutter spikes) they can be tightened, or replaced if damaged.

After discovering loose hardware, inspect the area around the gutter screw for peeling paint, blistering, cracks, or splintering. These are typical indications of the onset of wood rot caused by water damage. The affected fascia boards will need to be replaced particularly when the fascia is no longer capable of supporting the gutters.

Sagging gutters might not necessarily be due to loose gutter screws. Inspect the hangers to see if they need reattaching or replacing.

When loose gutter spikes are damaged and need replacing, consider replacing them with hidden hangers which are screwed into the fascia, providing more support and better protection from loosening hardware or sagging gutter section.

If there’s standing water in the gutters and the cause is not debris buildup, ensure that you have enough downspouts to handle the amount of annual rainfall and the gutter slope is correct. Consult with a gutter installation specialist if you can’t check them for yourself.