The difference between warped gutters and sagging gutters might seem like a mute point. They both look unsightly and cause the gutters to work inefficiently. But there is a distinct difference between the two. Knowing why gutters sag or how they become warped and what to do about it can help you better protect the exterior of your home.
Warping occurs in aluminum and steel gutters. As metal gutters age, the protective coating (paint for aluminum gutters and a galvanization process for steel gutters) wears away, allowing the aluminum or steel to become exposed to the elements. When this happens, the metal is more likely to become misshapen. Since aluminum is a softer metal than steel, it typically warps faster.
Warped gutters mean there are more places for debris to become snagged, allowing debris to build-up and form clogs. Warping in aluminum gutters can be further aggravated by their design – sections of aluminum gutters are typically joined together by screws and caulking. When caulking loses its hold on the gutter seams, it is no longer able to expand and contract with the metal around it. Screws can shift, letting unanchored gutter sections warp further.
The most obvious sign of sagging gutters is that they tilt away from the fascia or roofline. If twigs, leaves and other types of debris build-up in the gutter channel and are not removed, the additional weight can put stress on the spikes, brackets and fasteners that secure the gutters into place, flush against the fascia. Broken or damaged hardware can also be responsible for sagging gutters.
When spikes, brackets, etc. are loose or broken, a gutter section typically sags in the middle, impeding the proper flow of rainwater toward the gutter outlet and the downspout and resulting in the further build-up of debris and/or standing water.
Tips to Prevent Warped or Sagging Gutters
Warped gutters, either the affect section or the whole system, need to be replaced. Sagging gutters, if the fascia has not been damaged, can be repaired by tightening or replacing damaged and broken hardware. Use the following tips to help prevent warped or sagging gutters.
• Have gutters professionally installed – a gutter pro will know the proper installation methods for minimizing the thermal contraction and expansion of aluminum gutters.
• Select quality materials for your gutter system.
• Periodically inspect the hardware holding up your gutter system. If brackets and spikes are loose, fix them.
• Check the fascia for soft spots or advanced stages of rot or damage.