Signs Your Gutters aren’t Working

When something goes wrong with a gutter system, it can make homeowners wonder if they need to repair the gutters or have them completely replaced. The answer to that question is the amount of damage that has been done – too many holes, two or more missing sections, or the entire gutter system sags, it’s probably better to replace rather than repair. However, whether gutters can be fixed or a new system must be installed, often the identifiable signs are the same. Signs your gutters aren’t working include mold growth, holes or cracks, separated gutters.

Mold on Interior Basement Walls

If gutters constantly overflow, they can dump water near the foundation of your home. Runoff that is not properly directed away from the house can seep into the basement where excess moisture and dark places are ideal conditions for mold growth. When mold appears on interior basement walls it could be a sign the gutters aren’t working properly.


Gutters made of metal such as aluminum gutters are prone to rusting once the protective coating has worn away or been damaged. Holes in aluminum gutters appear when rust eats through the metal. Rust spots can be treated and several holes can be repaired, but if the rust has spread over a large portion of the gutter system, it’s a definite sign the gutters need to be replaced.


Gutters and downspouts knocked about by the wind or hit by accident (e.g. a flying baseball) can result in dents. It’s not just a cosmetic issue – dents cause restricted water flow. Combine a dented gutter section or a downspout with debris buildup and overflowing gutters and/or downspouts backing up can occur.

Overflowing Gutters

If cleaning the gutters regularly doesn’t stop gutters from overflowing, then something else is going on. An incorrect gutter slope can interfere with how efficiently rainwater flows toward the downspout and then out of the gutter system. Consulting with a gutter installation professional will help you decide if the gutters can be repositioned (repaired) or they have to be replaced.

Holes or Cracks

As mentioned above, holes in aluminum gutters are often the result of rust. While vinyl gutters don’t get holes, they can become brittle as they age and the colour fades. If objects are blown against the gutter sections, hairline cracks might develop, worsening over time. Since vinyl gutters are typically not easy to repair no matter what the extent of damage is, they probably will have to be replaced.

Gutter Separation

Unless the gutter system is seamless (and they have seams too but only in the corners), gutters work optimally when everything is tightly sealed and securely fastened. If sections separate from one another, it could be an indication that seals are becoming worn and fasteners are loose, missing or damaged. This might be another important sign that the gutter system is beyond repair.

Sagging Gutter Sections

Residential gutters are generally attached to the fascia of the house. The most common reasons for sagging gutter sections are debris buildup and standing water. When the weight of the gutters becomes too much, they can pull away from the fascia causing the gutter system to sag. Reattaching the gutters can fix the problem, but only if the gutter sections have retained their shape (not bent or dented).