How To Repair Gutters

Roger Diez | Improvement Center Columnist | December 14, 2011

Good drainage is essential for keeping a home free of mold, rot and other water damage. Knowing how to maintain your own gutter can save money. Gutter repair is a moderately difficult home improvement project, due to the need to work at roof-level heights.

Common gutter problems

Here are some of the most common problems you might encounter with your rain gutter system:

  1. Clogs
  2. Leaks
  3. Loose gutters
  4. Water dripping behind gutters
  5. Noisy downspouts
  6. Stains

Fortunately, there is at least one solution for each of these problems. Some are easy fixes, and some demand more expertise. One thing they all require is working on a ladder. So if you don't handle heights well, or have physical challenges that make extended time on ladders ill-advised, repairs are best left to a professional.

How to repair gutters: 6 solutions for 6 common problems

  1. Gutters can become clogged with leaves, branches and other debris. You need to clear this debris using a trowel, brush and garden hose. A more permanent solution is to install gutter guards which will keep the debris out.

  2. Leaks can occur at seams, end caps or holes that develop in the gutters. The best solution is a waterproof caulking or glue. Larger holes may require a piece of metal or fiberglass mat that gets glued in place.

  3. Over time, gutter hanger nails can pull out, leaving gutters loose. You can replace the loose nails with screws or gripping spikes, or use a hanger that provides better support.
  4. If you have water dripping behind your gutters, they were probably installed with not enough eave overhang. Use flashing to direct the water into the gutters.
  5. Noisy downspouts can be annoying. A piece of cushioning material glued to the bottom of the downspout with waterproof glue will muffle the sound.
  6. "Tiger stripe" stains on aluminum gutters are caused by electrostatic bonding of tar and asphalt from roofing materials that flow into and onto the gutters. There are a number of chemical cleaners on the market that will remove them. Repainting with a special stain-resistant coating will keep them from recurring.

Gutter repair and maintenance costs

If you detect and repair problems early, the cost of keeping your gutters in good working order is minimal. Waterproof glue costs only a few dollars, as does caulking material. New gutter hangers, spikes and screws are also inexpensive and available at any hardware store. If you can't do the work yourself, labor will be your biggest expense. For instance, gutter cleaning averages anywhere from $50 to $250, depending on the size of your home and the going rate in your area.