How to Know if Your Gutters Need Replacing

Gutters are a vital piece of your home. They direct potentially damaging water away from the most susceptible parts of your home, such as doors, windows, siding, and foundations. An effective gutter system will make sure that none of these areas are subjected to water buildup and help avoid the need for costly repairs down the road. After all, pools of water can result in serious damage over time.

The concern is that our gutters are often ignored because it can be difficult to remember to maintain them – a classic out of sight, out of mind. The problem is they are located atop the roof, and when we go outside, we might notice a flower bed that requires weeding or a vehicle that calls for waxing, but unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the gutter system.

If your present gutter system has been in place for several years, how do you know when it’s the right time to replace it? How do you determine if repairs will be sufficient, or if replacement is the only available option? Well, you begin by regularly performing maintenance on your gutters and inspecting them, that’s how. Okay, but if there is damage to your gutter system, how widespread does it have to be to necessitate total replacement?

These types of inquiries are routine for many homeowners in the Pittsburgh area who want to make darn sure their gutter system keeps working as intended.

Just what do gutters do?

They may seem simple but, as just mentioned, gutters are truly a very critical component of your home.

Your gutters are your home’s first line of defense against Mother Nature. They reroute rain to your drainage system so that your property looks as new as it was when it was built. There are reasons contractors install gutters on every home they build. Water is one of the most destructive forces on the planet.

After all, water created the Grand Canyon, and it will attempt to achieve the same effects around your house. Your gutters prevent that destruction while giving your roofline a crisp edge.

It’s approximated that a 1,000-square-foot roof sees over 620 gallons of runoff for the duration of a storm that drops an inch of rain. This is why your roof and gutter system work hand-in-hand to keep that water out of your house when it can lead to wood rot, mold, leaks, stains, and structural damage.

During the winter, clogged gutters can produce ice dams that also have the capacity to do a significant amount of damage to your home. They can actually destroy your roof and bring about interior damage as a result of water entering your home.

How long should gutters last?

Galvanized steel and aluminum gutters are likely to last around twenty years, but if you’ve installed hearty copper ones, that life expectancy will extend to 50 years! Mother Nature is a bit less damaging to downspouts, so you can add another ten years to their lifetime.

Love and attention can also add years to your gutters, so watchful maintenance is certainly worth the effort. A twice-yearly cleaning and consistent sealant reapplication will have a remarkable impact on the wear and tear. If you side-step abrasive chemicals and mechanical damage, you can postpone that gutter replacement even longer. Gutter guards will reinforce these activities.

Unfortunately, only a small number of homeowners appreciate the significance of regular maintenance. Become one of them. An annual inspection and service by the professionals at Schultheis Brothers will deal with minor gutter issues before they become disastrous.

Okay, what are the signs that my gutters need replacing?

While most of us aren’t disposed to think about gutter replacement, there’s a point when it comes time to replace your gutters. If you’re not sure what to look for when that time finally arrives, here are several signs your gutters may be arriving at the end of their lifespan.

Basement is flooding

One major sign that it’s time to replace gutters that many people aren’t aware of is your basement flooding. Gutters that are working properly will direct water away from around your house and foundation. When your gutters aren’t working as designed, water can run over the edges of the gutter, where it can seep into your foundation, and eventually into your basement.

If you’ve been detecting a lot of water pooling into the basement when it rains, or if your basement has flooded just after a storm, your gutters could be the issue.

Cracks or splits of any kind

As your home’s principal rainwater drainage system, the gutters should move the water without a drop to spare. However, cracks in the gutter prevent this, leading to water dripping down your home’s siding and directly onto the landscape.

While tiny cracks in your gutters may not look like a big concern, in time, tiny cracks will develop into big ones, and they very well might occur sooner rather than later. Cracks will only expand over time, particularly when colder weather arrives, and ice is able to seep into and widen those cracks. If you let these cracks stick around, water can not only further damage gutters, but it can also destroy the fascia boards behind, the shingles above, and the foundation beneath the gutters.

Flimsy fasteners

Fasteners are tiny pieces of metal used for attaching your gutters to the roof. Though these guys are small, they hold your gutters at a precise height so that water drains away from your roof and house as intended.

If you discover that fasteners are either unattached or missing, you might be able to fix it with a screwdriver and a few replacement parts.

If after you’ve tightened everything up, you still have problems with leakage or drainage, there may be a different underlying cause that requires further attention.

Appearance of nails and screws

While out doing yard work, you find random nails or screws. They might be coming from your gutters. As water, dirt, and other debris make their way into your gutters, they have to be able to carry the extra weight. Combine that with a bit of wind and you could have a mixture that will shake the screws loose.

When you discover that nails or screws are missing, you might be able to see where they came from and put them back where they belong. However, it may also be the result of parts rusting away or other such harm to your gutters.

Hardware falling from your gutters into your yard is a definite indication that maintenance or replacement is required.

Gutters sag or have started to pull away from the house

Sagging gutters aren’t just an eyesore – they are also a menace to your home.

Troughs are the chief gutter components that run along the roofline and direct water to the downspouts. These sections must be parallel to the ground, minus any sagging or bulging areas. Your gutters should never sag or pull away from the home. If they do so, it usually means they are full of water and are pulling away from the house as a result of the weight. A full gutter could also indicate the gutter system isn’t draining properly or debris is causing a blockage.

You can often solve minor sagging problems by tightening or replacing the system’s gutter fasteners. They will naturally loosen or break away over time. However, repeated repairs may indicate a support problem with the gutters. Likewise, broken seams and frequently failing fasteners may point to a malfunctioning gutter system and suggest the need for replacement.

This is one of the simplest ways to tell if you need gutter replacement since you don’t have to be on a ladder to inspect it.

Rust spots appear on the gutters

Just when you thought a crack in the gutters was harmful, rust in your system may be even more so.

Once the rust begins, it’s nearly impossible to stop. The rust is a warning that:

  1. Your gutter’s protective coating has worn through.
  2. The gutters are approaching the end of their lifespan.

The fact is, rust will only get worse, meaning your leaking problem will only get worse as well. The only valid tactic to stop rust and prevent it from harming your home’s foundation is to replace the gutters. Why not take a preemptive approach and look into replacing gutters before any substantial damage takes place?

The paint is peeling from the gutters

If you detect there’s paint peeling off your gutters, you probably don’t think much of it. After all, we anticipate normal wear and tear on gutter systems since they’re constantly subjected to the elements. But spotting paint chips in the water falling from your gutters can indicate there’s standing water in the gutters and that’s the reason why the paint is peeling away. And of course, standing water can signal that your gutters aren’t disposing of the water properly and may need to be replaced.

Water spills over the gutters

Talk about water spilling over the gutters. After a storm, you may again notice that the water begins to spill over your gutters. Maybe it’s just a rush of wind that makes the water come soaring out but, whatever the reason, you still need to think about getting to the root cause of the issue. After all, gutters are not meant to gather and keep water but rather send it running down and away from the roof and your foundation.

Pooling water will remain and might cause your gutters to sag and ultimately break if you don’t take care of the problem ASAP. This is extremely important in the summer months, too, as you’ll want to keep bothersome insects like mosquitoes and flies away from you and your home as much as possible.

What time of the year is ideal for gutter replacement?

Spring is the ideal time to install any type of gutter. Its dry skies and warm days are primed for a professional installation that’s unhampered by bad weather. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to wait, however. Installations in the colder months might be a bit more problematic, but they aren’t impractical. In fact, you might even be able to negotiate a better price out of season.

Gutter maintenance quick tips

Looking after your gutter system and making sure of its functionality is important to your home’s security. Crucial gutter issues can result in critical foundation and roofing damage, endangering both your safety and your budget.

The list below reveals tips and tricks to keep your gutters in tip-top condition year-round. These regular maintenance chores will extend the lifetime of your gutter system and aid in averting harmful issues that necessitate expensive repairs or replacement.

  • Mount gutter guards to keep debris from building up.
  • Clean your gutters all through the year, giving them extra attention in the fall when leaves and debris are more apt to produce blockages.
  • Go for seamless gutters for your next replacement project. This particular design lessens the possibility of seams breaking or sagging.

Take note of the pitch of your gutters, too. They should be pitched a little towards the downspout. If you feel your gutters may be inappropriately pitched, a gutter specialist from Schultheis Brothers can tackle the problem before it leads to blockages and the need for gutter replacement.

The better you care for your gutters, the longer they’ll last. If you’re looking for a gutter specialist in the Pittsburgh area, contact Schultheis Brothers. We offer a full range of gutter inspections, repairs, and replacements.