Maintaining and repairing gutters: a handy guide

August 21, 2015

Gutter maintenance is crucial to the health of your house. If water is leaking, it can cause damage to the walls and foundations. Here's a handy guide to installing and maintaining your gutters.

  • Your guttering system must be able to cope with the volume of water coming off the roof. If you're ordering new materials, remember that a big roof area will need deep gutters and broad downpipes.
  • When assembling sections of guttering, remember to overlap each joint by about 10 centimetres (4 inches) in the direction of the water flow. If the overlaps are set against the flow, water may get in under the gutters.
  • Cut the bottom out of a plastic motor-oil container to make a gutter scoop, you can even use the spout as a handle. Your scoop will hold much more than a garden trowel. Empty debris into a bucket hanging from your ladder.
  • To avoid having to move your ladder frequently, make a gutter rake. First, cut a small piece of plywood or solid lumber to match the shape of your gutter. Screw this bit of wood to the end of a length of broom handle about 1.2 metres (4 feet) long, then attach a loop of cord to the other end to secure it to your wrist.
  • If there's bubbling paint on the underside of the guttering, or watermarks on the eaves, it's likely there's a leak that needs fixing.
  • For minor repairs to a leaking gutter, plug the trouble spot with a squirt of silicone. Clean any rust in the area before applying the product. If the damage is more extensive, you should have the guttering replaced.
Maintaining and repairing gutters: a handy guide

What you will need to repair your gutters

  • Tape measure
  • Gutter guards or screens
  • Metal snips or household shears

Before you begin

  • Make sure that your gutters are clean and free of holes, and that the downpipes are clear and draining properly.

1. Clear the way

  • Measure your gutters and buy the necessary lengths of guard or screen as appropriate.
  • If your gutters have metal supports, measure the distance between them.

2. Cut to measure

  • Cut the screens or guards to match the length of your gutters.
  • If there are metal supports, cut notches in the screens to accommodate them.
  • If there are overhanging clips, cut screens into lengths that will fit in between them.

3. Install the screen

  • Position the screen or guard so that leaves will be washed straight over the top and onto the ground below.
  • Eliminate any depression between the roof and the gutter, as leaves will build up there and prevent the roof from draining properly.

More gutter troubleshooting

  • To pinpoint a sag, pour a bucket of water into the high end of the gutter and watch where the puddle forms, then adjust your gutter's slope as necessary.
  • Adjust the metal brackets to correct a sagging gutter. If the gutter is held on with suspension brackets, use pliers to bend the metal. If it has support brackets, reattach those that are too low or too high to produce the right fall.
  • When cleaning out your gutters, plug the top of the downpipe with a rag. This will prevent leaves and debris from falling into the drain and blocking it. (Remember to remove the rag later.) You can also buy mesh gutterguards that sit in the tops of downpipes to keep out windblown leaves and debris.

Keep the tips and how to from this handy guide in mind, and you'll be sure to better maintain your gutters and your home's overall health.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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