How to Fix Leaking Gutters

The importance of working gutters to a happy and healthy home cannot be understated. Leaking gutters lead to mould and mildew, which can cause structure damaging rot. This will significantly compromise the safety and value of your home. Water that has found its way into your roof and walls can even travel down into the basement, posing a serious risk to your foundation. Even if you manage to avoid all of these pitfalls, leaking gutters can still cause unsightly stains on the exterior of your home, not a good look! That’s why we’ve written this guide on how to fix leaking gutters, covering everything from clogs to fixing a leaking gutter corner.

How Can I Tell if My Gutters Are Leaking?

First things first, how can you fix a problem you don’t know you have? Or worse still, when you know your gutters are leaking but you can’t find the source. There are a few key things to look out for if you suspect your guttering system is leaking. The most obvious is a visible crack in your gutter. It’s always worth giving your guttering a once-over to make sure there are no splits or cracks, as even the tiniest drip can quickly become difficult to manage. Another thing to watch out for is peeling paint underneath your gutters and near the base, as this indicates that water has been leaking in or around that area. Most visually worrying, are any water marks or stains underneath your guttering or on your walls. If you spot any of these three things, it’s highly likely your gutters are leaking.

Common Gutter Problems and How to Fix Them

Unfortunately, our guttering system is probably the last thing on our minds, despite how important maintaining healthy gutters is. Their importance to the overall safety of our homes makes it paramount to keep on top of them, and to fix any leaks as soon as possible. Below we’ll talk you through some of the most common problems homeowners face with their gutters, and their solutions.

Clogged Gutters

Clogged gutters are one of the most common problems homeowners will face that can caused leaks. Particularly in Autumn, gutters can become clogged by leaves, dirt, and moss quite easily, and in some cases even become home to bird’s nests and other infestations. This build-up of unwanted debris can rapidly cause your gutters to overflow when it rains, dramatically reducing their effectiveness and leading to damage to your roof and walls. In more extreme cases, clogged gutters can lead to sagging gutters or even cracks and splits. An easy way to check if your gutters are clogged is to take a look while it’s raining or use a hose pipe to spray water up your gutters. If water runs down the side of your house, then it’s highly likely your gutters are blocked.

How to Clear Clogged Gutters

Cleaning out a clogged gutter downspout or drainpipe is a relatively straightforward process, but it’s important to keep your safety in mind. Always wear a long-sleeved top and rubber gloves to protect yourself from any sharp debris. Gutters should always be cleaned from a ladder, never from atop your roof, and always be mindful of your balance when working at height. Any “gunk” can be removed using a plastic scoop, and should be disposed of onto a plastic sheet to protect your lawn. If possible, use standoff stabilisers alongside your ladder, as the movement of ladders can cause cracks in guttering. If you find that the blockage is in your down pipe, you’ll need to disassemble the pipe before cleaning it. This can be a difficult process, so if you aren’t confident in doing so, consult a professional. This is also true if you find a nest or infestation in your gutters, as a qualified tradesperson will be able to remove it safely.

Leaking Gutter Joints

Gutter joints help to create a watertight seal and ensure consistent drainage along your guttering system. However, sometimes these joints can fail and cause leaks. Most commonly, these failures are caused by the gutters expanding and contracting naturally due to changes in temperature. These days, most guttering will feature markings to let you know how best to install them and avoid this. Damage due to thermal movement can still occur however, particularly in extreme temperatures or if the guttering has been cut too short during installation. Other causes of failed gutter joints include dirt or grit getting stuck in the joint and breaking the seal, acute damage from impacts or simply general wear and tear.

How to Fix a Leaking Gutter Joint

Fixing a leaking gutter joint depends on the exact part that is damaged. If the joint itself has been broken, it’s recommended that you replace the entire fitting. This is because the seal will not work unless it is a perfect fit for the slot moulded within the fitting. Take a look at our guttering range if you need to undertake a full replacement. Always refer to the manufacturer’s guide for detailed product information to ensure compatibility with your guttering and for installation instructions.

How to Seal a Gutter Joint

If the gutter joint is still in working condition, then the leak could simply be caused by a poor seal, which is simple to resolve. First, clean away any dirt or debris from the joint and wait for it to dry. Then, apply gutter sealant and squeeze the pieces together to form a strong connection. If your gutter has been installed with union clips, you may find that these have been damaged. If so, they will also need to be replaced.

Leaking Gutter Seams or Corners

The most common cause of leaks and drips in guttering systems is simple wear and tear along the seams and in the corners. If the seams in your gutters are leaking, this will prevent proper drainage of rainwater and could lead to overflow and pooling elsewhere, potentially damaging the façade of your home.

How to Fix a Leaking Gutter Seam

Whilst significant breaks in gutter seams or corners may require you to replace sections of your guttering system, most are simple enough to fix using a suitable gutter sealant. As with repairing a broken gutter joint, you should first clean and clear the area around the leaking gutter seam. You may need to use a scoop here, depending on your level of build-up. Once clean and dry, the sealant should be applied with a steady pressure. Once the sealant has been forced into the seam or corner, press the two connecting pieces of gutter together and if possible, clamp them. Wait 24 hours and the leak should be gone.

Cracked Gutters

Guttering can split or become cracked for a number of reasons. These include damage caused by blockages, impacts from falling roof tiles or extreme weather conditions. Even leaning a ladder against your gutters whilst cleaning can cause cracks. It’s important to keep an eye on your guttering system, particularly during the winter as ice can build up in gutters, severely impacting their structural integrity.

How to Fix a Cracked Gutter

This is another situation where an effective gutter sealant can be used to repair most damage. To fix a cracked gutter, apply a generous amount to both the inside and outside to fully seal the crack and prevent further leaks. Roofing sealant can even be used to repair larger holes in guttering. To combat ice formation in the winter, apply a mixture of salt and warm water to your guttering to discourage ice from forming.   

Sagging Gutters

Over time, a build-up of debris or pooling water along with high winds and changing temperatures can cause gutters to sag. Whilst this may not present an immediate concern, sagging can lead to further damage and leaks, or even cause the gutter to end up free hanging. The extent of the damage will depend entirely on how quickly you can repair the sagging gutter. This is why it’s incredibly important to fix any issues you spot as soon as possible.

How to Repair a Sagging Gutter

The exact way to fix your sagging gutter can depend on how your guttering system is fixed. It may be held onto your roof on hangers, with brackets or long spikes. Below are the approaches you should take for each of these.

How to Fix Gutter Spikes

Loose gutter spikes should be pulled out using a pry bar or claw hammer. If the spikes are still threaded and are not bent or rusty, you may be able to re-use them. Otherwise, purchase new gutter spikes and thread them into the old holes to secure the gutter in place.

How to Fix Gutter Brackets

First, remove the sagging section of your guttering from between the brackets that have become loose. Ensure that all screws holding the brackets in place are taken out and the screw holes are filled with a waterproof exterior seal. Once the seal is dry, drill new holes for the brackets. These should be at the same height and angle as the originals, so the pitch of your gutter doesn’t shift. The brackets and gutter can now be reattached.

How to Fix Gutter Hangers

The first thing to do is check on your gutter hangers. If they’ve been damaged, they should be replaced immediately. Undamaged hangers can simply be repositioned.

How to Install a Gutter Guard

If you live in an area with lots of trees, or find that your guttering becomes clogged quite often, consider purchasing a gutter guard. Available in the form of brush rolls, mesh grating and gutter grids, these guards are designed to keep debris out of your gutter. Gutter guards are fantastically effective and easy to install, even if you’re a DIY novice. Simply clip them together and place them over your guttering.

One of the most popular gutter guards among homeowners is undoubtedly the hedgehog gutter brush. Comprised of UV resistant bristles this guard can installed in mere minutes by simply rolling it out across the inside of your gutter, providing years of effective protection for only the smallest amount of work.

Conclusion

None of our suggestions for how to fix leaking gutters are “one and done” solutions. Although guttering is often at the back of our minds when it comes to maintaining our homes, if you take proper care of your gutters, they will keep you safe and dry for decades to come. Any guttering system would benefit greatly from regular cleaning. Clearing out your gutter just twice a year at the start of spring and winter, would greatly reduce the chance of debris build-up, sagging and other issues. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to repair any potential issues before they become serious. Read our guide How to Clean Your Gutters to learn more.

*Please note that the list of problems above is non-exhaustive. When installing or replacing parts of your gutter the relevant manufacturer’s guide should always be consulted.