Most homeowners know that gutters need scheduled cleanings and inspections to ensure they function properly. Well-maintained gutters can prevent unwanted problems from occurring. But what happens if something goes wrong with your gutter system? When gutters become dysfunctional, the two main courses of action are repair or replacement.
Inability to Channel Water
In addition to debris buildup, aluminum gutters can be obstructed in a number of other ways, including the appearance of dents. Dents, whether as traumatic as a branch smashing into a section of guttering or the pressure caused by a leaning ladder, can reduce the amount of water the gutters can handle. When the gutter damage obstructs water moving through the gutter system, the situation needs to be dealt with.
Solution: If the dent is small, a rubber mallet can be used on the inside of the gutter to (gently) hammer out the dent. However, when the dent is extensive and the gutter has been crushed, the section (sectional gutters) or the entire side (seamless gutters) should be replaced.
Debris Clogged Gutter System
Miss one or two gutter cleanings in a row and it probably won’t do much harm. But if you neglect your gutters for stretches at a time, a clogged gutter system can cause overflowing. Left unattended, overflowing gutters can result in moisture-related issues such as mold growth, a shifting foundation, or damp siding vulnerable to rot.
Downspouts need to be checked for clogs too. As downpipes get older, debris can become snagged on seams that have become worn enough to shift or misalign. A clogged downspout can cause water to back up into the gutter channel or pool too close to the foundation of your home.
Solution: Clean the gutters. Pay special attention to the area around the gutter outlet, seams, and corners. Ensure all clumps of debris have been removed. Flush the downpipes with a garden hose to check for clogs.
Appearance of Rust Spots
When gutters aren’t thoroughly cleaned or they don’t drain properly due to insufficient gutter pitch, the mix of moisture and debris can compromise the protective finish of aluminum gutters. Rust spots are one of the first signs of deterioration. They usually start out as pinholes, barely susceptible to the eye. It takes time for rust spots to develop into gaping holes through which you can see the ground.
Solution: Make the appropriate repairs – fill in small holes with a polyurethane sealant or caulk; patch up larger holes. Be warned, however, that holes large enough to require patching are typically an indication the gutter system or affected gutter sections, depending on the extent of the damage, need replacing rather than repairing.
Debris, combined with water, collects in the gutters and weighs them down. If the brackets holding the gutters in place become loose, gutters might start to warp or sag.
Solution: Clean the gutters regularly. If the gutter system fills up with debris in between the scheduled spring and fall cleanings, consider increasing the number of gutter cleanings per year.