Most homeowners remember to clean the gutters at least once a year. But things can happen in between one annual gutter cleaning and another. Periodic inspections are key to maintaining your gutter system. But did you know that the best time to inspect the gutters for problems is when it’s raining? The main thing to look for is how the water is flowing through the gutter system and the places where the water is stopped from flowing the way it should.
Is going out in the rain really necessary?
It might sound a little crazy to venture out in the rain to inspect the gutters for problems. However, it does make sense when you consider that the main purpose of rain gutters is to channel water from the roof to the ground. When gutters have problems, it’s typically related to water not being channeled properly or going someplace it’s not meant to be. Inspect the gutters when it’s moderately raining, not storming or windy. You will probably only need a pair of binoculars. But if you need to use a ladder set it up on a paved/gravel area if possible and not on the water-soaked ground.
Water escaping from the seams where two gutters sections are joined.
You can find seams where two sections of gutter are joined together. As these seams age, the sealant or bonding material can be worn down. When gaps appear between the two sections, the gutters will leak. Seamless aluminum gutters have fewer seams and are typically situated at the corners of the gutter system. If your home has seamless gutters, pay close attention to the corners where leaks will most likely occur. When the seams or joints of aluminum gutters aren’t repaired or resealed, they can rust, appearing first as pinholes and then becoming larger.
Water spills over the side of the gutter from the front.
There can be other reasons for overflowing gutters, but the most common one is that the gutter system is clogged. When debris builds up or a nest (insect, bird or pest) makes an appearance, rainwater cannot flow toward the gutter outlet and down the downpipes.
Water leaks but it isn’t from any of the seams.
If you do see water leaking somewhere from the bottom of the gutter, but it isn’t from the seams or joints, it could be that the gutter section is damaged or cracked. Once you discover where the leak is occurring the section will have to be repaired or replaced, depending on the extent of the damage.
Water spills over the side of the gutter at the back.
If water spills over the side of the gutter at the back and escapes between the gutter section and the fascia, it could be a number of things, including loose hardware. When gutters aren’t fastened firmly in place they can tilt or sag allowing rainwater to get trapped behind the gutter. Consistently damp soffit and fascia make them vulnerable to wood rot.
Water comes down from the roof, completely missing the gutter channel.
When water overshoots the gutter system, it’s a good indication that it has been installed incorrectly or with too steep a slope. The best course of action is to consult with a gutter installation contractor; they will be able to tell you exactly what’s going on and what you can do about it.
Water pools near the foundation.
Another sign that all is not right with your gutters is pooling water near the foundation of your home. While the gutters might be in good shape (no leaks, rust spots, damaged sections, no blockages) overflowing gutters could be attributed to not enough gutter slope.
Check to see how the water exits the downpipes.
When rainwater just trickles out of the downspout, it could be from debris buildup either in the gutter channel or the downpipes themselves.
However, when you find water pooling beneath the downpipes, it could be that the downspout is too close to the foundation. Use a downspout extender to guide water further away from the exterior walls of the house.