Easy fixes for a leaking gutter

Leaks in gutters and downspouts will cause stains on walls or paths, or damp spots in the house. Don't wait for this to happen — catch these problems before the bills mount up by follow these tips for leaky gutters.

Easy fixes for a leaking gutter

Clean gutter joints

Most leaks happen where two lengths of gutter join together. Many leaks can be fixed by cleaning the joints and ensuring a tight fit.

Plastic gutters

Lengths of plastic guttering are linked by short sections called union brackets, which contain rubber gaskets. These brackets can become dislodged — for example, by a window cleaner's ladder.

  • Dismantle the joint by squeezing the sides of the gutter until it comes away from the union bracket.
  • Clean away any dirt from the end of the gutter section and the union joint using a nail brush and detergent.
  • Before reassembling the joint, wipe the gaskets and joint surfaces with some liquid soap — it'll help everything snap back into place.

Metal gutters

  • You can make a temporary repair to a metal gutter by cleaning the joint surfaces, then taping over the joint with duct tape, or by painting over the joint with silicone paint formulated for gutter repair.
  • Fill holes in corroded metal gutters and downspouts using a fibreglass-based car body filler, available from auto supply stores. Rub down the corroded area with sandpaper and remove any loose flakes of metal, then follow the instructions provided with the body filler.

Warning

Follow safety guidelines for working on a ladder. Never be tempted to overreach — your belt buckle should always be within the uprights of the ladder and both feet should remain on the same rung when you work.

Make drains and gutters last

When it comes to drains, prevention is always better than cure. Following a few simple tips will keep your waste pipes flowing freely.

  • Buy a sink strainer for your kitchen sink and use it when doing the washing up; it will trap food particles before they reach your drains. Avoid pouring oily liquids down the drain — they can solidify and cause a blockage. Instead, pour them into a sealable plastic bag and dispose of them in the household trash.
  • Use boiling water to melt built-up grease. Once every two weeks, pour a pan of boiling water down the drain. Once a month, pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain, then slowly add a cup of white vinegar. Leave for a few minutes, then flush away with boiling water.
  • Clear the gutters regularly; don't let leaf litter accumulate. Shape a section of chicken wire into a ball and push it into the top of a downspout. This will prevent leaves and other debris from entering and blocking the downspout.
  • Keep ladders away from gutters because the force of a ladder leaning up against the plastic can easily crack it or break the seal between adjacent sections of gutter.
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