Common Gutter Problems

Text: Gutter Problems | Background Image: Water is comming from Gutter Pipe

So your gutters aren’t working like they should, but why? Maybe they’re clogged or have holes. They could be damaged or pitched improperly. In this article, we’ll explore the common gutter issues that can prevent your gutters from performing the way you expect. Plus, we’ll give you some solutions. 

In this article

Your Gutters are Clogged

Photo Credit: Eric Schmuttenmaer / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Clogged gutters are super common, so it’s smart to start your gutter troubleshooting there.

Clogs or debris buildup can impede water flow, causing hardware failure and foundation damage or erosion caused by water damage. Small animals, like squirrels, are also attracted to dirty gutters.

THE FIX: Luckily, this common problem has a simple solution: Gutter cleaning. All you need is a ladder and gloves to remove the debris from your gutters, all of which you can find at a hardware store.

Yes, it’s a dirty job, and it’s necessary for regular maintenance. But there’s a prevention option: Install gutter guards. They come in various styles, but each will help keep debris out of your gutters.

Your Gutters Are Sagging

Sagging Gutter
Photo Credit: Ben Baligad / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Sagging gutters are easy to diagnose and not too difficult to fix.

If you notice a dip in the line of your gutters, you’ll need to address it. Sagging gutters are more stressed, which can cause the hardware to fail, leading to further sagging. Runoff from these sagging gutters can also cause wood to rot in the eaves and erode the foundation. In a worst-case scenario, the gutter system can collapse.

THE FIX: Before the problem creates these issues, you can employ this simple solution: replace your gutter hangers. You need only a ladder, screwdriver and screws. Just tighten the screws on your gutter hangers and reinforce them with extra screws. You may also need new gutter hangers if yours are too damaged.

Either way, the job can take as little as 10 minutes.

Your Gutters Have Holes

Your gutters may have holes if they’re leaking. And there are a few options to fix them.

Over time, leaking gutters can erode the underlying support and foundation below the leak. It can also lead to hardware failure. The issue may not be easy to diagnose on a clear, sunny day. It’s important to check for damage immediately after a storm, to make sure storm water is draining like it should.

THE FIX: If the leaky gutter’s holes aren’t too big, you can patch them easily. This low-maintenance task requires a ladder, plastic roofing cement or sealant, a putty knife and flashing scraps.

However, if you have larger holes, you may want to contact a professional company to replace the damaged parts of your gutters.

Your Gutters Are Damaged

Damaged Gutter
Photo by: Bart Everson / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Mother Nature is usually the culprit when it comes to damaged gutters. A nasty storm can knock down or damage sections of gutters.

Like other gutter issues, damaged gutters can erode your foundation below a gutter leak or further damage hardware.

THE FIX: Fixing them is fairly easy if the damage isn’t too extensive. You’ll need a ladder, a screwdriver and screws. Simply rehang the section of the gutter that’s fallen. While you’re there, double check the strength of existing hardware.

If damage is too extensive, though, it may be time to get in touch with a professional for gutter repair.

Your Gutters Aren’t Pitched Properly

Correctly pitched gutters slope at an angle so water can drain properly.

If your gutters aren’t pitched correctly, it can lead to a few issues: Hardware failure, pooling or standing water and gutter system stress.

THE FIX: Poorly pitched gutters are easy to diagnose. Get up on a ladder after a rainstorm. If you see standing water in the gutter, you may need to adjust the pitch and rehang your gutters. You’ll need a level, screwdriver, tape measure and ladder.

The proper gutter slope for gutters is a half inch every 10 feet. This slight pitch is enough to allow water to flow toward a downspout. But if your gutter is more than 40-feet long, you may want to pitch it in the middle with two different drainage spouts.

Frequently asked questions

What is the most common gutter problem?

Clogged gutters are the most common problem, and luckily, the most common problem has the simplest fix. Simply clean out debris from your gutters. You can also prevent clogged gutters by installing gutter covers or guards.

Why are gutters important?

Gutters help prevent mold, mildew and other water damage by directing rainwater from your siding and foundation. They also add a nice decorative element to your home.

For Professional Help

Gutters are simple in their design, but installing, maintaining and repairing them can be challenging and time-consuming if you aren’t sure what you’re doing. In some cases, it may be best to let a professional handle the work. Check out our lineup of gutter experts for help.

Main Photo: Jorbasa Fotografie / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Katie Sartoris

Katie Sartoris

Katie Sartoris is a Florida-based journalist with a decade of experience in the industry. She also teaches exercise classes and hosts a local television show. In her free time, she picks for antiques, enjoys fancy cocktails and works on restoring her midcentury home.