If you think you’re having trouble with your gutters, you should act quickly to avoid potential damage to your roof, home, and landscape. Though they’re literally just troughs that collect water as it runs down your roofline, gutters play a vital role in keeping your property safe from a wide variety of water damage-related issues.

People usually notice that their gutter system is malfunctioning when they see issues with their gutters or issues around their home and property, so this guide is broken up into problems with your gutters and additional issues caused by faulty gutter systems.

If you’ve noticed a problem that you think might be gutter related, this guide can help you figure out whether repair or replacement is right for you. When in doubt, call on a gutter professional to assess your situation.

Problems with Your Gutters

broken gutter system

Cracks, holes, splits, and rust spots

Sealant or flashing can sometimes be used to fix these problems, but it’s probably time for replacement if you’ve found more than a few. Cracks, holes, splits, and rust spots are usually indicative of older gutters. You might be able to get by with a few repairs before a new installation is necessary.

Stressed seams

Unless you have seamless gutters, you’re going to want to look out for issues with your gutter seams. If there’s any bending or separation at the seam, it means your gutters aren’t going to work properly. Minor separation can sometimes be repaired.

Sagging or pulling away from the house

If your gutters look like they’re sagging or pulling away from the house, it’s probably an issue with the hangers or fasteners. Repair is possible unless your gutters have deteriorated too much.

Overflowing or standing water

Overflowing gutters are usually caused by a clog of leaves and debris. If a thorough cleaning doesn’t have your gutters flowing properly, call a gutter professional to assess your system. Your gutters should not be retaining water after it rains. This issue also calls for a cleaning—ideally before another rain shower hits.

Broken or loose nails/spikes/fasteners

Your gutters are connected to your home by either nails or fasteners. Spikes keep the gutters in place and at the correct pitch. You can probably replace the odd loose nail, fastener, or spike, but gutter replacement may be necessary if your gutters continue to fall apart.

House or Property Damage

white mildewed walls

Peeling paint

Malfunctioning gutters can cause water to run down your house, and that excess moisture can damage your home’s paint.

Rotting fascia, soffit, trim, etc.

If your paint is peeling, you might also have a problem with rotting fascia, soffit, and trim. Because these components are typically made of wood, they’re likely to start rotting if continually exposed to water.

Mildew or pools of water near foundation

Outside of being unappealing to look at, mildew and pools of water near your foundation have the potential to cause serious issues. Mildew can cause health issues; water near your foundation can damage your home’s structural integrity.

Water marks beneath gutters

Water marks underneath your gutters is a sign that water is either overflowing or backflowing behind the gutters. Either way, these stains mean your gutters aren’t working properly.

Landscape washout

A side effect of gutter malfunction that most people don’t think about is landscape washout. If your gutters or downspouts aren’t working or are overtaxed, flowing water can cause erosion in the grade of your lawn and damage to plants and trees.

How Long Should Gutters Last?

The lifespan of a gutter system depends on the type of material used as well as the frequency of maintenance. If your gutters are malfunctioning just a few years in, you may be encountering issues due to faulty gutter installation.

Gutter materials

Aluminum, copper, and galvanized steel are the most popular gutter materials in use today. Because of their affordable cost and tendency to last more than 20 years, aluminum gutters are the most common. Copper gutters have the longest lifespan and can last as long as the house does if properly maintained.

Galvanized steel gutters are stronger than aluminum but require a fair amount of maintenance to keep from rusting. This type of gutter can last around 20 years but has become less popular as aluminum has taken over the market.

Gutter maintenance

Gutter maintenance varies according to material but typically involves cleaning, pressure washing, and/or painting. While all gutters need to be cleaned, only galvanized steel gutters need to be painted, which is done to prevent rust.

Most gutter professionals recommend cleaning your gutters (removing debris from the gutters and downspouts) at least twice a year, but your gutters may require more or less cleaning depending on the number and type of trees on your lot.

Call a Best Pick Gutter Cleaning professional to keep your gutters in tip-top shape.

Bottom Line:

  • Keep an eye on your gutters and check their performance when it rains or snows. The sooner you can resolve any gutter system issues, the better. Because gutters protect your home’s exterior, foundation, and surrounding landscape, it’s not worth waiting around to see what might happen.
  • Use this guide to look for problems with your gutters and surrounding areas, and remember that gutter issues may not be obvious until you start looking at your home’s trim or foundation.
  • Check your gutters for these issues: cracks, holes, splits, and rust spots; stressed seams; sagging or pulling away from the house; overflowing; gaps; standing water; and loose nails or fasteners.
  • Check your home and landscape for these problems: peeling paint; rotting fascia, soffit, trim, etc.; damaged drywall; mildew near the foundation; pools of water around your home; water marks beneath gutters; basement leaks; ice dams; and landscape washout.
  • Hire a professional to make any repairs or perform a new installation.
  • Perform the necessary maintenance so your gutters last for years.