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How to Prevent and Fix Gutter Leaks

Gutters are channels that run along the side of your house’s roof to catch and usher off the rainwater. Gutters are a major source of troublesome leaks.

Clogged Gutters

Though gutters direct water away from a house, they’re so prone to clogging that they sometimes cause more leaks than they prevent. But gutter clogs often stem not from the gutters themselves but from trees and other plants close to the house that deposit leaves, seeds, and twigs in the gutters.

Though gutters may seem like more trouble than they’re worth, without gutters, rainwater has nowhere to go except against the foundation walls. Even if the ground around the house is graded away from the building, the high volume of water coming off the roof will flood the soil that’s close by. So it’s best to have gutters and maintain them so that they work properly.

Other Gutter Problems

Though clogging is the biggest gutter-related problem, gutters have other shortcomings that require regular attention:

  • Rusted gutters: Steel gutters are prone to rust, which creates holes that drip water and must be patched.
  • Misdirected downspouts: Downspouts should empty onto a concrete or fiberglass splash block that carries water away from the foundation out into the yard where it can be harmlessly absorbed.
  • Sagging gutter sections: Usually caused by heavy ice loads during the winter, sagging gutter sections can be straightened by removing their support brackets, pushing the gutters into a level position, and reattaching the brackets.

How to Clean Gutters

Clean debris from gutters at least twice a year. Use a small gardening trowel to remove the debris, then wash away the rest with water from a garden hose.

How to Clean Downspouts

Downspouts are prone to clogging because they’re narrow and have frequent bends, or elbows. The best way to clean them is with a full stream of water from a garden hose.

How to Repair Rusted Gutter Sections

To repair rusted sections of gutter, sand away the rust and then cut a piece of matching gutter, or aluminum flashing, to fit. Spread plastic roof cement on the gutter and the back of the patch and push the patch into place.

How to Install Splash Blocks

Use concrete or fiberglass splash blocks to direct water from the bottom of each downspout (ground pipe) away from the foundation walls. (If you use fiberglass, weigh it down with a brick to keep it in place.) Your goal is to keep the bulk of the water at least 6′ away from the house.

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