Did you know that gutters are the most important part of preventing water damage to your house? It’s true! Here in the Seattle and Portland area, the risk of water damaging your home is especially high. Ensuring your gutters are working properly is essential to keeping your home safe from leaks, flooding, mold, insect infestations, and more. Thankfully, maintaining your gutters isn’t too difficult. It’s even less of a hassle if you have gutter guards installed. However, there are some gutter problems that all Pacific Northwest homeowners should be aware of and watch for. Keep reading to learn about the most common gutter problems. Then, commit to scheduling regular yearly maintenance and you’ll ensure your gutters (and your home) lasts for years to come.
1. Debris Accumulation
When it comes to gutter problems, the one that’s most common in the PNW is what we like to call “gutter clutter.” As you can probably guess, this is when debris like leaves, branches, moss, ice, and dirt gets stuck in you gutter, clogging it up and preventing it from doing its job. Some accumulation in your gutter is normal. However, left untreated, these items can completely stop up your gutter, making it impossible for water to flow through. With nowhere to go, water will overflow and pool on your roof and near the foundation of your home. This can cause numerous issues, including flooding. Gutter clutter can happen anytime during the year but is especially common during late fall. If you notice water overflowing from your gutters or debris stacked up in your gutters, clear out the blockage as soon as possible. Pro Tip: By installing gutter guards you can completely avoid this problem. Gutter guards offer lifetime protection against clogs and keep your gutter working as it should.
2. Sagging or Warped Gutters
There are other repercussion of a clogged gutter besides water overflow. The weight of the debris can also cause your gutter to sag and pull away from your house. Unless you fix the issue, this weight will slowly start to drag down your entire gutter system. Sagging gutters can also be a symptom of old age– especially if it’s been over 20 years since you last replaced your system. Another sign of aging is bent and warped gutters. This will happen to all gutters over time, and when it does, will mess up the flow of water, causing it to spill uncontrolled around your home. If you notice sagging, bent, or warped gutters, it’s a good sign you need to repair your gutters or have them completely replaced. Pro Tip: High-quality gutter systems are made to prevent the natural sag and warping that develops over time. Using 3” long stainless steel screws ensures your gutters stay flush against your house, keeping them secure even under the weight of debris, ice, snow, or heavy rain.
3. Joint Leaks
Many older homes in both the Seattle and Portland area don’t have seamless gutters. This means the joints of the gutter (the location where two parts of your gutter join together) can start to pull apart, forming leaks. If you have a non seamless gutter system and notice leaks in the joints, it’s likely time for a gutter replacement. Pro Tip: Seamless gutters made from aluminum and copper are the best choice for avoiding gutter joint leaks. Choose an option with hidden brackets for completely seamless look.
4. Damaged Gutters
In addition to the issues we’ve mentioned so far, there’s always the possibility of unpredictable damage. For instance, a branch punching off a hole in your gutter or a heavy windstorm knocking down a portion of your gutter system. You’ll probably notice bigger damage immediately, but keep your eye out for small cracks, holes, or breaks, too. Even a small issue can domino into a larger (more expensive) problem if you’re not diligent. Pro Tip: Loose siding, mold on your siding and roof, and chipping paint can be a sign of a damaged gutter. If you notice these things, call a gutter company to come out and take a look.
5. Downspout Issues
Your downspout – the pipe that reaches from your gutter to ground level – needs to extend well beyond your foundation. Otherwise, water will be dumping right next to your home and into your house or basement. If you notice your downspout has been damaged, moved, or was installed incorrectly and is pouring water out right next to your home, it’s time to call a gutter specialist. Pro Tip: Your downspout should extend 4-5 feet away from your home and be screwed on tightly so it won’t move out of place.
6. Improperly Pitched Gutters
To function correctly, the slope of your gutters needs to be angled (or pitched) just right. Even if your gutters were installed with the correct slope 15 years ago, they may have shifted over time. You can tell whether or not your gutters are pitched at the right angle by whether or not water is left standing in your gutter after a rainy day. Standing water in your gutter will not only attract bugs, it can also cause mold to grow and cause bigger problems for your roof and home. Pro Tip: Your gutters need to slope at least a quarter inch for every 10 feet of gutter. Not sure if your gutters are angled correctly? A professional gutter installer will be able to tell right away.
Need Help Fixing a Gutter Problem?
We have over 25 years of experience replacing and installing gutters in the Seattle and Portland areas. Our goal is to ensure homeowners have the best gutters in the Pacific Northwest and are properly equipped to protect their home and roof. If you are concerned about old or broken gutters and are wondering if it’s time for them to be replaced or are interested in installing gutter guards on your home, contact us. We’d be happy to come out to your home and give you a free, no obligation assessment and estimate.