Proper maintenance of your gutters and downspouts is important to prevent basement flooding or erosion around your foundation.
A small leak in your gutters or improperly placed downspouts can allow hundreds of gallons of water to enter your basement in a single heavy storm. And the worst part about having a broken gutter is that you don’t realize it until its too late.
During the first spring rainfalls I noticed that one of the corners of our front gutter was leaking. The problem was not that bad but there was potential that water could run down the wall and cause wood rot. So this is one of my first projects this spring… Getting out on the ladder and fixing the gutters.
Gutters are normally made of Aluminum but some gutters are vinyl and many years ago if you have an old home you may find your gutters are made of galvanized steel.
No matter what the material that makes up your gutter system it is important that at every seam a sealer is applied to prevent leaking.
Our gutters are aluminum that were extruded or formed on site by a contractor out of a roll of aluminum sheet. This is a really nice method because you can span long distances without center seams. Unfortunately these gutters are still joined at any corner and they have end caps that are riveted on and sealed.
Although we do have a lot of trees in our yard none of them are a problem when it comes to leaves filling our gutters in the fall but even so and probably because i grew up in a home where leaves were a serious problem I like to inspect my gutters once a year.
To inspect your gutters you will need a ladder that you can rest on the gutter and it should extend at least a couple feet taller if you expect to get up on the roof. You never want to be crawling off the ladder on to the roof you should always have one hand on the ladder as you put your feet on the roof decking.
When you inspect your gutters you should look for any potential clogs. You should look for more then average granules coming off the shingles and you should make sure they are secured tightly to the fascia board.
Once their physical condition is verified you want to look at your seams and end caps to make sure they are sealed correctly.
If your contractor sealed your gutters you will probably see what looks like black caulking covering the seams. If any of it has broken away or if you see cracks or missing spots this is where your problem of leaks is occurring.
Once you know where the problem is the cure is pretty simple.
Applying Sealer to Rain Gutter Joints
Gutter sealing happens from the inside of the gutter. You should never need to apply sealer to the outside of the gutter.
Gutter sealer comes in squeezable or in calking gun tubes and the price can run you from about $5 to $10 depending on the amount and quality.
I like to use a squeezable tube for gutter sealer because it is easier to handle and you can normally get the tube right inside the gutter even if there is a gutter hanger clip near the seam.
First clean the area of any debris and if it is wet you need to make sure it is dry before applying the sealer.
Some sealer is water based and may do ok in light moisture conditions but it is best if you check the gutter, clean the debris and if its wet wait for a hot day so it will be completely dry.
Squeeze a bead of sealer along the seam joint and then smooth the sealer to allow easy flow of water through the gutter. You don’t want to cause a restriction.
If there is a gap in the joint you should use your cardboard or plastic spreader to force sealer into the joint.
If you have damage to an area of your gutter you can also use sealer and a piece of like metal to form a patch.
If your gutter is aluminum use a piece of a soda can. If it is steel you can find a coffee can that can be cut with tin snips.
NEVER mix metal types or you will definitely end up with dissimilar metal corrosion. This happens when metals of different types are placed together. If you can not find suitable scrap metal then use plastic and redo your repair when you can.
Well there really isn’t much more to know about sealing gutters other then it can get a little messy so wear some rubber gloves or expect to be cleaning your hands with gasoline on a rag.