Why Gutters Leak

Well-maintained gutters are an important part of your roofing system that keeps your home dry and safe from the elements. Troubleshooting gutters is important: when you can quickly identify what’s wrong with the gutter system and fix the issue as soon as possible, you can save yourself a lot of money in repairs, or even replacement. Leaky gutters are one of the most common gutter problems. A leaking gutter system can be frustrating because often the source of the leak can’t be readily identified. Here are the top five reasons why gutters leak.

Gutters are Clogged

When debris such as leaves, twigs, needles, pine cones, and dirt collect in the gutters and form clogs, water isn’t allowed to flow through the gutter system and completely exit the downspouts. Clogged gutters can overflow, spilling over sides of the gutter sections and down siding panels.

Get into the habit of inspecting the gutters at least once in between gutter cleanings, particularly after stormy weather. Even when the gutters are cleaned regularly, unexpected blockages like a fallen bird’s nest, broken branches from an active storm, or a stray ball can occur.

Seams become Worn

Joints are the place where two gutter sections are typically riveted together and then sealed. When seams become worn, water can escape between the gaps where gutter sections have separated from one another. If the gutter leaks at a joint, applying new caulking in the right places can stop the seams from leaking.

Depending on the gutter material, gutter systems last on average for about 20 years. When aluminum gutters are older than 20 years and they keep leaking at the seams even after being re-caulked, they most likely are beyond repair. To prevent a total system failure and risk more serious problems such as structural damage or a cracked foundation, replace the gutters sooner rather than later.

Loose Hardware

Hardware becomes loose for a number of reasons – strong winds, trees constantly brushing up against the gutters, ladders being leaned against gutter sections, aging fascia becoming warped. When gutters aren’t regularly cleaned, water combined with a lot of wet debris can weigh the gutters down, further loosening nails and hangers to the point where the gutters pull away from the fascia. If the gutter system is no longer held firmly in place, water can escape, leaking down onto siding or splashing up into the soffit or on fascia boards.

Gutter Material Deterioration

Gutters are exposed to the elements day in, day out, year-round. They have to survive fluctuating temperatures, heavy rainfall, direct sunlight, and high winds. Because of constant exposure to moisture, over time aluminum gutters can develop holes and cracks, particularly around seams or the holes made by nails, screws, or fasteners. These holes and cracks need to be patched up to prevent further deterioration.

Insufficient Slope

In order for the gutters to drain properly, they need to be pitched slightly to that the water flows toward the downspouts. A gutter system can be hung incorrectly or misaligned due to circumstances such as a shifting foundation or an earthquake. When there is an insufficient slope, water can pool in corners, eventually causing leaks. The standing water might also accumulate to such a degree that it spills of the sides of the gutters.