One of the most important but often overlooked aspects of your home’s roofing system is the gutters.
They collect rainwater and funnel it to the ground in the form of a downspout, keeping standing water off of your roof and preventing all kinds of detrimental issues, such as mold, mildew, moss, algae, leaks, sagging, and other damage.
Gutters also protect your landscaping or yard from erosion and related problems since they channel rainwater in appropriate directions by causing the water runoff to flow away from your home’s foundation and the rest of the property.
The Gutter Repair Process
If there is damage to your gutters, you have two options – either repair the damage if it is confined to a few spots or replace them altogether if the damage is extensive or if your gutters are over two decades old.
That said, you can often avoid significant work on your gutters or a total replacement with proper cleaning and maintenance performed by a construction company or roofing contractor experienced with the sort of gutters that you possess.
Gutter Maintenance and Cleaning
Regularly cleaning your gutters and removing any debris like leaves, tree branches or sticks, or anything else that might end up in the gutters is a key part of maintaining your home.
Scheduling cleanings annually and having your roof and gutters checked out after a major storm or similar occurrence is a good way to prevent issues with your gutters and nip any problems in the bud while they are still relatively easy and inexpensive to repair.
Causes of Gutter Damage
Your home’s gutters can be broken or damaged for a variety of reasons, such as various types of storms and other weather events, house fires, and debris like tree branches or even entire trees falling your house.
Also, small animals like squirrels, chipmunks, or raccoons can make homes in your gutters, or birds can build nests there, causing clogs and related problems.
Rain Storms and Flooding
A major rainstorm or flood (or a combination of both) can cause damage or problems with your gutters due to overflow or overuse.
Pieces of your gutters can fall off your house or they may become clogged and unable to properly drain, which can cause further damage to your entire roofing system and other elements of the structure, like the siding and windows.
Hail storms can cause dents, dings, dimples, and cracks in your gutters, and if the hailstones are numerous enough or large enough, they can fill up your gutters, clogging them or causing them to sag and even fall off the eaves of your house.
If you experience a hail storm on your property, it is important to check out your gutters and have any problem spots repaired, and perhaps have sections of your gutters replaced.
Wind storms, high winds, or tornados touching down in your area can cause debris to blow into your gutters, tree branches, or actual tree trunks to fall on your roof or home and damage the gutters, or the gutters themselves to blow off the structure completely.
When high winds hit your gutters, they can loosen the nails or brackets that attach the gutters to the fascia and the rest of your home, causing the gutters to fly off and potentially harm your roof, siding, or other parts of your property.
In addition to all the other destruction and devastation that a house fire can cause, you should be aware that even small fires can make it to the gutters and ignite any debris that lies therein, causing the fire to grow and spread to the roof, the siding, and even surrounding trees, bushes, and other structures like sheds or garages.
Debris and Gutter Clogs
All kinds of debris can end up in your house’s gutters, from dirt and soil, small rocks, asphalt granules, gravel, pebbles from your roofing system, leaves and tree branches, and even nests and such from birds and other small animals like squirrels, chipmunks, or raccoons who may be able to get up on your roof and into the gutters.
What Happens When Gutters Get Clogged?
When your home’s gutters are clogged with leaves, branches, bird or animal nests, dirt or soil, small rocks or asphalt granules, or virtually anything else, then water cannot properly run off your roof and away from your home’s walls and foundation.
This can cause damage to your home’s roof, siding, and foundation, and water to leak through the roof into the attic or upper floors or even get into the basement, resulting in black mold, mildew, bad odors, and flooding, especially if your property is located in an area that receives lots of rain or is near a river delta.
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Water Damage and Gutter Problems
Roof leaks, foundation damage, damaged siding, and problems with the shrubbery, plants, grass, or other landscaping surrounding your home can all occur as a result of broken or clogged gutters.
When gutters are clogged and full of water and debris, they become extra heavy and may break off or sag, or cause standing water to sit on the roof, creating leaks and fostering the growth of moss, mold, algae, mildew, or other problems.
This water can also attract insects or other pests, or it can overflow and damage the exterior walls
Should-Damaged Gutters be Repaired or Replaced?
If the damage or broken area of your gutters is localized or only in one particular spot, you can likely have just that portion of your gutters repaired or replaced.
How Often Should Gutters Be Replaced?
In general, gutters should be replaced every 20 years or so; if a major weather disaster or other catastrophic event occurs, you may need to fix or replace your gutters sooner than that.
Moreover, if you have significant clogs from leaves, tree branches, or other debris, your gutters may become irreparably damaged, so ensuring that your gutters are regularly cleaned and inspected is a key aspect of maintaining the overall condition of your property.
Another thing to keep in mind is the material that your gutters are made from – for instance, aluminum or galvanized steel gutters last approximately twenty years, while more expensive copper gutters have a lifespan of 50 years or longer if you don’t suffer from a major natural disaster or catastrophic event.
Also, keep in mind that if you have plastic (PVC) or vinyl gutters, they are more likely to become porous and break off if you regularly have heavy rains or storms.
That said, these types of lightweight gutters are becoming more popular since they are resistant to rust and corrosion, and they can last for around 25 to 35 years.
Can I Repair My Own Gutters?
While you may want to try and repair or even replace your own gutters if you are handy around the house and good at DIY projects, we always recommend seeking out experts for something so essential to the integrity of your roof and home.
This is because not only is the integrity of your gutters essential for maintaining the condition of your roof and the rest of your home, climbing up on a ladder and cleaning out the clogs and debris or repairing your gutters can be dangerous.
Furthermore, work that you perform yourself may not be easily covered by insurance, so if there is significant work to be done it is best to hire professionals who can provide estimates and work with your insurance carrier to handle the costs.
Can Gutters Be Removed and Reinstalled?
If you are replacing your roof or having a lot of repair work done, it is possible for a construction company to remove, clean, and then reinstall your gutters if they are in good condition and on the newer side.
This may save you money on materials as well since your construction company won’t have to purchase new gutters for your build.
Why Is Water Dripping Between My Gutters and Fascia?
Water dripping behind your gutters or between the gutter and fascia or roofline (the board that is mounted where the roof connects to the outer walls of the structure) usually means that there is a need to repair or install new flashing behind the gutters.
This is often referred to as a gutter apron, which is tucked behind the shingles and bent up and over the edges of the gutters, and it protects your walls and roofing from dampness, moisture, and related problems like moss, mildew, various types of harmful mold, or algae.
Emergency Gutter Repairs
If your gutters fall off or break due to a storm, house fire, or another disaster, you may want to look into an emergency roofing service or contractors who can handle fixing your gutters and any other problems that may have occurred as a result of the aforementioned events.
How Much Does It Cost to Repair or Replace Gutters?
Professional contractors typically charge around $20 to $30 per square foot for their labor, and the cost of materials is an additional expense.
Accordingly, the cost of fixing your gutters or installing new ones depends on the side of the building, the extent of the damage, and the kind of materials or gutters that you want to install.
Typically, gutter replacements cost between $1,500 and $6,000.
If you simply want to have your gutters cleaned, you can expect to pay between $150 and $200 or more depending on the size of your home and the condition of the gutters.
Will My Insurance Cover Damaged Gutters?
If the event that caused the damage to your home’s gutters is considered a “covered peril” by your homeowners’ or flood insurance policies, then it is likely that you can have the costs of the repair work or replacement gutters paid for by your carrier.
As always, be sure to check your individual homeowners’ and flood insurance policies (if the latter is applicable) and consult with your insurance provider and perhaps a public adjuster if you have any questions about whether or not gutter repairs or gutter replacements are included in your coverage.
If you’re thinking about filing a gutter or roof claim, read our latest roof insurance claim guide.
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