8 Tips for Fixing Your Gutters

To some homeowners, gutter repair may look pretty easy. After all, gutters are a lot more accessible than things like car engines and attic-placed air conditioners. The material is lightweight, pliable aluminum (unlike concrete, brick, and other parts of your home), and hanging gutters doesn’t require complex tools like jackhammers, pumps, or computer diagnostic equipment.

But don’t let the innocuous appearance of gutters fool you. Fixing gutters can be more problematic, time-consuming, and potentially calamitous than meets the eye. So before you dive into a gutter repair project, here are eight tips to help you accomplish you goal.

Clean your gutters first. You won’t be able to see the extent of your problem if much of your guttering is blocked with leaves, pine needles, and other debris. Once you’ve cleaned your gutters, you’ll have a better sense of what repairs need to be made.

Use the right sealant. To fix holes and cracks, be sure to use either waterproof silicone caulk or roofing cement. Be sure to clean, dry, and sand the area around the leak before applying the sealant. Larger gaps may require a piece of metal flashing to be affixed along with the sealant.

Use a power drill/screwdriver. If your gutters are starting to pull away from your roof, you’ll probably need to fix the fasteners — which may involve drilling new holes. Trying to punch through the aluminum by hand can be frustrating and energy-draining.

Use rivets for separated guttering sections. Usually, caulk, glue, or sealant alone won’t be enough to reattach separated gutters. Drilling holes in the sections’ overlapping edges and inserting 1/8-inch rivets will hold them together more securely.

Mind the slope. Whatever type of gutter repair you must deal with, it’s vital that you don’t compromise the slope of the entire guttering system. Otherwise, runoff water won’t flow to the downspouts like it is supposed to. So try to re-drill holes on the same plane as the current ones — and test your water flow when your repairs are completed.

Check your roof warranty. Different kinds of gutter repair can void the manufacturer’s warranty on your roof. So dig out your roofing-related paperwork and read the fine print before messing with your gutters. Otherwise, if you discover roofing issues later — even on another part of your roof — they may not be paid for under the warranty.

Always think “safety first.” That means making sure your ladder is always stable, not leaning too far away from your ladder, keeping tools on the roof or in a hanging bucket instead of in your hands when not in use, and maintaining at least two feet or two hands on the ladder when moving up or down. You don’t want to be one of the tens of thousands of Americans annually who visit the ER after falling off a ladder.

Know when to throw in the towel. If there are several areas of your gutters that need repair, or you discover other problems like rotted fascia boards or displaced shingles, you might be better off biting the bullet and calling a professional to take care of all of these issues.

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Written by Chris Martin

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