In order for gutters to do their job properly, gravity must be able to move water away from the walls and foundation of your home. Even the slightest change in the pitch of your gutters can cause water to seep where it shouldn’t.
Routine gutter maintenance like cleaning, unclogging, and repairing can prevent more costly water damage down the road. Thankfully, most of these repairs can be completed by any homeowner that is comfortable climbing a ladder and has a few simple tools. Here are a few steps to fixing a sagging gutter.
Identify the problem
A sagging gutter is the result of one of three causes: a clog, improper pitch, or failing hardware. Pine needles, leaves, mud, and ice dams clog your gutters, adding extra weight for the gutter to bear. Heavy loads combined with failing hardware can cause the gutter to sag or fall off completely.
There are two main types of gutter systems: spiked and hidden hanger. Gutter spikes are comprised of a giant nail driven through an aluminum sleeve into the wooden fascia of a house. Changes in temperature cause the gutter and fascia to expand and contract, eventually working the spikes loose.
Hidden hanger systems are the standard for newer homes. They are more streamlined, stronger, weather-resistant, and easier to repair that spiked systems. They can, however, still fail. If your home still has a spiked gutter system, it may be time to consider replacing it entirely.
Even if your hardware is holding tight, your gutter may be improperly pitched. If after a heavy rain, you see standing water in your gutters, you’ll need to make adjustments. You can also snap a chalk line from the peak to the downspout to see where the gutters need to be lifted to achieve the ¼ inch per 10-foot slope that’s necessary for proper drainage.
Clear the clog
Before you begin making any repairs, clear the gutter of all dirt, debris, leaves, and twigs. This will make it easier to fully assess the problem and replace hardware. If you’re unsure how to properly clean your gutters, check out this post.
Replace the hardware
If gutter spikes have pulled away from the fascia, it’s unlikely that they can be securely attached again. You can attempt to hammer them back into place, but this will be a temporary fix. Instead, replace them with gutter screws secured just above the original nail hole.
While gutter hangers are sturdier than spikes, some factory versions are easily bent by ice dams, falling branches, and ladders. If your sagging gutter is caused by a bent hanger or two, replace them by securing the gutter to the hanger first before screwing the other end through the metal and into the fascia.
It is also possible that a bent hanger is caused by uneven weight distribution between hangers. Ensure there is a hanger secured every two feet along the length of the gutter.
Consult a professional
If you’re having trouble identifying the problem or don’t have the time to resolve the issue quickly, don’t wait to call a professional before water wreaks havoc on your home.