One of the most annoying things you can see in any house is a rain gutter that is standing… away from the roof. It’s like they’re just one strong wind away from being knocked down. And because they are no longer connected to the roof, they are already useless.
Would you believe that this is actually a common issue for homeowners? Not a lot of them know that it is something that may still be fixed and is also something that can be prevented in the first place, if only they got their rain gutters to undergo regular maintenance.
But of course, there are still instances that those rain gutters pulling away from the house will already need replacing. But if you want to learn about how this problem is properly addressed, particularly by a professional gutter contractor, then read on.
The Importance of Functioning Gutters
If you are one of those homeowners who left alone their rain gutters after being installed in their hoclme, you’re not the only one. A common misconception is that rain gutters do not need any kind of maintenance, that’s why the next time they check up on it is when they know it is already in bad shape.
In many cases, homeowners don’t even know what their rain gutters are there for. They only know that they are there to catch and divert water so that it will flow elsewhere. But for its other benefits? They don’t have a clue.
Are you one of those clueless homeowners? If so, you need to pay attention. Here’s a list that will show why rain gutters are more than just an accessory in your home:
- Manage the flow of water from rain, snow, or ice – if you don’t have a rain gutter installed, everything that falls on top of your roof will flow downwards in a straight path. If you noticed how water just moves straight down whenever you use your umbrella during a heavy rainfall, that is what a roof without any rain gutter looks like.
And as an added “bonus”, you can expect rain or snow to fall directly on top of your head immediately as soon as you get outside if you don’t have a rain gutter installed. But if you do, all these elements get to flow in a specific path and will go inside the downspout that lets water go down in a specific area only.
- Will protect the foundations of your home – not a lot of people know that water will cause damage to the foundations of any home, especially with prolonged exposure. Water coming from your roof has the tendency to go down directly around your home and it may pool around its foundations.
Over time, the water will cause damage to your foundations and the possibility of water entering your house through the faulty parts of your foundation greatly increases. Rain gutters prevent this from happening.
- Avoid damaging your landscaping – have you noticed the plants bending down whenever water hits them, then eventually rising back up afterwards? But if they get showered with water for far too long, they will stay permanently drooped down.
Without rain gutters, you can expect your plants and entire landscaping to be ruined easily, as your plants will constantly be hit by water whenever it rains.
Aside from that, we all know that too much water is one of the easiest, and not to mention most common, ways to ruin a plant. If you don’t have rain gutters, your landscaping gets constantly exposed to water whenever it rains or snows, probably providing it with a lot more water than your soil as able to absorb, although the presence of loam soil in your garden can help it drain too.
Once the grass experiences discoloration or your plants are too squishy to touch, it is a telltale sign that it has been exposed to too much water and it will be quite difficult already to prevent them from dying.
- Prevent your roof from getting beat-up and requiring you to replace it prematurely – roofs are known to last for a long time, and rain gutters do play a role in its longevity. These prevent water from getting into different components of your roof, namely the soffit, fascia, and other important parts affecting the entire structure.
If the said parts get exposed to water for a long time, they will also become damaged. And when this happens, it is not only the damaged part that gets affected – it will also cause problems for your entire roof. Getting your roof entirely replaced sooner than you would like is an expensively real possibility.
From just these four major points, you can already see the pivotal roles that rain gutters play in any home. This is why it is important that the rain gutters you have at home are constantly in good condition. Any problems you might have with it needs to be immediately rectified.
Common Gutter Problems
Just like any part of your home, rain gutters can bring about all sorts of problems in your home. This is especially true if you have poorly maintained ones. You can expect issues with your rain gutters sooner rather than later.
It is important for you to be aware of the most common problems that involve rain gutters so that you have an idea what should be done once you encounter it. While some issues can be considered minor enough to warrant a DIY work, the more common ones would require the services of a professional due to the risks involved. It’s not just your safety that’s at risk but also that of the structure, particularly your rain gutter and your roof.
With all that said, here’s a list of the most common issues anyone might encounter with rain gutters:
- Wrong gutter slope or pitch – some homeowners think that rain gutters only need to be installed near their roofs, and all is fine. They don’t realize that aside from the proximity with the roof, the slope of their rain gutter is also crucial.
If the slope is too little, the water will just settle on your rain gutter and will not flow to your downspout. But if there is too much slope, the water collected will just flow out of the edges of your rain gutter. In both cases, it makes your rain gutters useless. To prevent this, the pitch or slope of any rain gutter needs to be a quarter of an inch on average for every 10 feet.
- Plant growth and presence of various debris – it is not surprising to see animals and plants making a home out of rain gutters, especially if some water remains on it. After all, water and sun promote plant growth, which in turn attracts various critters.
While the idea of having a hanging garden seems interesting and fun, it stops being so when this “garden” starts causing damage to your gutters. And when this happens for far too long, you will eventually have to replace your rain gutters prematurely because the damage is just too great for simple fixes to be done.
- Improper draining of the downspout – contrary to what you may think, downspouts cannot be placed just anywhere. The downspout holes where the water from your rain gutters will flow out should be found at least a few feet away from the house.
Distance between where the water will come out and the house itself is important, because the water will pool wherever it comes out of. If the downspout holes are located near your basement, don’t be surprised to see water inside it. And if the water settles on the ground near your home’s foundation, it will eventually cause water damage to your foundation and allow water to seep through the cracks created.
- Presence of leaks – leaking is among the most common, not to mention annoying, issues that involve rain gutters. This happens when various components of your rain gutter are no longer in good condition. Normally, water leaks happen because the fasteners holding gutters together have loosened up or the gutters themselves have holes or cracks on it.
- Rain gutters are clogged – it is not unusual for rain gutters to get clogged, especially if your house is surrounded by lots of trees, and trees therefore need to be trimmed. The wind and rain can bring about all sorts of debris to your roof and rain gutters. Even if your downspouts have large holes that may allow these debris to pass through, there will eventually come a time that they will cause blockages, preventing water from passing through and getting to the downspouts.
Water will remain on your rain gutter because of this blockage and when it happens, unnecessary weight is being held up by the gutter. This will later cause issues not only to your rain gutter but also to your roof, especially if water reaches the roof and stays in contact with it for a long period.
- Formation of ice dams – if you live in a region that experiences harsh winters, you have probably experienced having ice buildup on your roof. When it melts, the water flows down to your gutters, which will re-freeze and ice dams are formed because of this. And like water trapped on the rain gutter, ice dams will also weigh them down and eventually cause all sorts of problems.
- Splitting up of the joints of rain gutters – to be effective, components of rain gutters need to remain connected. But over time, they can separate if debris and blockages are present, especially if the weight is too much for them to handle. Just applying adhesives to the separated parts won’t be enough; it would require rivets and other similar fasteners to connect them back together.
These common issues are generally avoidable, as long as you make sure that your rain gutters are properly maintained. And to do that, it all starts with making it a habit for them to undergo regular inspection and cleaning to rid your rain gutters of various debris.
How to Fix Sagging Gutters Pulling Away from Your House
Sagging gutters are one thing. When they start pulling away, that is another issue and it is something that needs to be remedied asap. Rain gutters lose their effectivity once they separate from the roof of any house.
Too much weight being held by rain gutters is the primary reason why it sags and eventually pulls away. It is not really a problem if heavy rainfalls are present every now and then. What is problematic is when all that water, as well as debris, settles and remains on the rain gutters for a long period.
Another likely cause for sagging gutters or for them to pull away is wrong installation. If the professional who installed your rain gutters failed to check the condition of the fascia or soffit before attaching them, or the fasteners are incorrectly installed, there is a great chance for it to detach from your house after some time, which is also why we do not encourage DIY installation of gutters.
From all these, you will probably think that the solution is simple: reattach it to your house. You need to know that this is partially correct; it may solve these issues but there are also instances where this is just a band-aid solution.
Most professionals will first check out the condition of not just the rain gutters but also the fascia where they were previously attached. This is important because they need to confirm if reattaching them will likely work or other solutions need to be done as well.
If other components of your rain gutter, as well as the roof and fascia, are still in working order, the technician will just have to reattach it to the fascia. It usually involves replacing the gutter spikes, hangers, brackets, or any combination of those three:
- The spikes may be reused if they are still straight, but it is recommended that the threaded ones are used for gutters. And once they are inserted to the existing holes, the technician may add some wood and epoxy, or any other material, to make sure that it is a tight fit and that the spikes will not loosen up by itself.
- If the hangers are the issue, the damaged ones will need to be replaced as well. The technician may also opt to change their positions to ensure that your rain gutters will stay in place; reusing their old spots may cause the newly-installed hangers to not fully support the rain gutters, especially if the holes have become too big.
- For gutter brackets, a bit more work is needed. After removing these brackets, the technician will have to cover up the screw holes with caulk and let it dry before continuing. Covering up the previous holes and making new ones is important because the old holes may have become too big to hold the screws in place.
When it is finally dry, new holes should be drilled at the previous spot to make sure that the rain gutter doesn’t change its slope or pitch. The brackets may now be screwed into place and once it is done, the gutters can now be placed on top of it.
The spaces in between these hangers or brackets may also be too far apart, and this causes the sagging of your rain gutter. To solve this, new holes where the brackets, spikes, and hangers will be inserted that are closer to each other will be made and the existing ones on both the fascia and rain gutters will have to be covered up.
If the issue does not only involve your rain gutters but your fascia or soffit as well, a major sign would be having the rain gutters still sagging despite doing the repairs mentioned above. If you had a professional do the work for you, they are more likely to immediately notice that something is wrong with your fascia before trying to reattach your rain gutters.
Rot is the most common issue with fascia boards. And when this happens, the only remedy is to get the board replaced. Only a professional can determine if all the fascia boards of your home will be replaced or only certain sections. After replacing them, that is the only time when the rain gutters will be reattached.
Damage to the rain gutter itself may also cause it to sag and separate from any house. They may withstand extreme weathers but they can still get damaged, especially when they get repeatedly hit hard by tree branches and other objects. When this happens, it is more likely that you need to have the damaged sections replaced. But if you are using the seamless type, you might need to replace your entire gutter system.
The Importance of Getting Your Gutters Inspected Regularly
You have probably realized by now how much of a headache faulty rain gutters can give you. Along with that, you might also have noticed that these problems are actually avoidable. All you need to do is to get your rain gutters to undergo periodic inspection and maintenance.
When it comes to dealing with rain gutters that sag and pull away, debris and water that settled on it are the most common culprits. If you get your gutters checked every now and then, you can get them removed immediately and minimize the possibility of having sagging gutters as well.
At the same time, regular inspections will let you know if there are problems not just on your rain gutters but also on the fascia where it is connected to and the roof itself. Rain gutters are generally sturdy and can last years, but they are not immune to any damage. Because they are found up high, it is not easy to see if they are damaged or have issues. Regularly checking up on them allows you to discover any problems on your gutter.
Regular rain gutter inspections allow you to address any issues as soon as you can, preventing them from getting worse. Missing screws are immediately replaced, cracks or holes are promptly patched up, and damaged parts are quickly changed. These easy fixes only cost you a few dollars and will prevent you from spending up to thousands if you discovered the issues on your rain gutters too late.
We already mentioned this but not a lot of people know that animals can also make a home out of rain gutters, especially when a lot of debris from nature settles there. Some animals that make rain gutters their nesting grounds can be harmless, but there are also those that can be dangerous. With regular inspections, the possibility of them staying in your gutters is eliminated.
Reasons Why You Should Hire A Pro
There are some people who are skilled with their hands and can do all sorts of work in their own homes. These DIY-ers would rather take the risk of doing the job themselves than get professionals, believing that this will save them a lot of money.
In the case of rain gutters, any work on them must ideally be done by a professional. If you are thinking of going the DIY route on yours, here are some reasons why you should think twice about doing so:
- You can save money on materials – you might think you’re getting bargain deals if you handle the work yourself, but did you know that professionals often get deals and discounts when they get various materials? In fact, they often get wholesale prices for these items, especially if they repeatedly purchase from the same stores.
There is often a very large difference between wholesale and retail prices. If you get professionals to do the work, there is a big chance they can get large discounts, which may be more than enough to cover for their professional fees. You actually get to save more money compared to doing the work yourself.
- Logistics may be an issue for you – materials of rain gutters can be lengthy. If you own a compact car, how will you be able to transport a 10-feet gutter from the hardware store to your home, together with the other materials you need? Transporting a seamless gutter system will be even more difficult for you. And if you managed to get them home, how will you bring up those lengthy gutters up on your roof?
If you get a professional, you solve all these problems, since they have trucks that can easily transport the materials. They can also fabricate the gutters on your home, instead of getting manufacturers to produce the gutters according to your specifications and delivering it to your home.
- You risk damaging your materials – rain gutters, especially those made up of the cheaper materials like aluminum, are susceptible to getting damaged because they are lightweight; accidentally hitting them may already cause them to bend or get damaged. Since professionals already know how to handle them, the risk of damaging the gutters are greatly minimized.
- Slope or pitch of the gutter is very important – this is something that beginners generally have a hard time with. Too much slope is an eyesore, while too little makes your rain gutters ineffective. Professionals are trained to balance function and aesthetics, solving the problem for you.
- Aside from issues with your rain gutter, you may also have other issues with your roof that needs attention – sure, you may have a vague idea on how to address the issues with your rain gutters, but what if the issue extends beyond that? If you recall, we mentioned that there are instances where problems on your rain gutters also involve the fascia and even the roof itself. And in these cases, only professionals can do all the necessary repair work involved, since their components are much more complicated.
- Safety is always a concern – any kind of work that involves a ladder and high spaces is already a safety hazard; you risk your safety if you attempt to do any kind of work on your rain gutters, especially since you will have to spend most of the time standing on top of a ladder. This is dangerous work.
Professionals already have the knowledge, skills, experience, necessary safety gear, and not to mention insurance, to minimize the risk of accidents and cover the bills for any untoward incidents that might happen. By having them do it for you, any concern about anyone’s safety is hardly an issue.
You may try to do work on your home by yourself in certain cases but when it comes to your rain gutters, it is much more advisable to leave it to the experts. The benefits of getting professionals to do the work for you far outweigh the risks, which is mostly limited to the general expectation of spending more. But then again, the list we provided already shows you that this is not always the case; you can actually save money with professionals.