9 Gutter Repair Tips You’ll Need Next Time You Head Up the Ladder

Ginny Bartolone
Written by Ginny Bartolone
Updated January 11, 2022
An exterior view of a house
Photo: JamesBrey / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Come wind, rain, snow, or sleet, repair your gutters like the pros with a few handy tips

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It only takes one heavy summer storm to remember how important it is to have properly aligned, unclogged, and leak-free gutters. But as a responsible homeowner and DIY extraordinaire, you're ready to climb up that ladder and fix it yourself. 

Proper gutter maintenance and repair can save you a lot of money and hassle—between the average gutter replacement cost of $1,900 and any related water damage costs. While calling your local gutter company is always the best option for advanced repairs, here are nine tips for taking on the smaller fixes yourself.

1. Start With Safety

Before we send you up to your roof with a bucket and a toolbox, let's talk about how to safely check out your gutters on a ladder. For example, leaning ladders directly on your gutters or on uneven ground can be a recipe for instability. 

Here are some quick gutter repair safety tips:

  • Use a ladder leveler on uneven ground

  • If you have to lean your ladder on your gutters, place a stand-off between you and the roof

  • Choose a ladder that can handle an additional work bucket for gutter debris

  • Ask a friend to secure the ladder as you work

  • Wear sturdy non-slip boots

  • Wear safety goggles and work gloves

  • Keep three points of contact on the ladder—such as two feet and one hand—at all times

2. Investigate Regularly

Let's start with the question on everyone's minds: How often should you clean your gutters and inspect them for necessary repairs? In short, take a look once or twice a year depending on your local climate, the number of branches above your home, and the age of your gutters. 

The most popular time to clean your gutters—or call in the gutter cleaners—is early spring and late fall. Inspect your gutters immediately if you recently experienced high winds, downed branches, or extreme snowfall—as each of these can loosen spikes from the fascia boards or break seams along the gutters.

3. Keep an Eye Out for Clogs

Clogs are some of the most common types of gutter repairs and can lead to sagging, disconnected spikes, and water spillover. Clogged gutters can also cause significant damage to your home, rotting wood siding and fascia, damaging foundations, and even welcoming in pests.

Clogs can occur in the gutter alongside the eave, in the elbow of the downspout, or in the downspout itself. Remove typical buildup of leaves and branches by hand up until it's safe to reach a few inches into the drop outlet—the opening to the downspout.

Use a garden hose to test if water flows freely through the downspout to check for unseen clogs. If not, apply more water pressure to flush out the clog or, in more severe cases, use a handheld auger or thin garden tool.

4. Patch Holes in Three Steps

Have you spotted a leak coming from a hole in your gutters? Holes can form from improperly placed nails, rust decay, or even cracks from weather damage. Patching a hole in your gutter can be an easy DIY job if the rest of your gutter is still in good condition. 

Follow these gutter repair tips to patch holes: 

  1. Be sure the area around the hole is clean, dry, and gently sanded.

  2. Cover the area with roofing cement and level with a putty knife.

  3. Select a metal patch that matches the material of your gutter—aluminum on aluminum, for example. You can often find patch kits at the hardware store.

5. Replace Worn Gutter Spikes

A man cleaning the gutter
Photo: photographee.eu / Adobe Stock

The traditional way to hang gutters for the past several decades involved sliding a long spike through a metal tube—called a ferrule—into the wooden fascia behind the gutter. As water damage and the weight of the gutters wear down, these spikes like to come out of their holes, causing gutters to sag and split.

During your bi-annual inspection, ensure your spikes are still properly secured. If not, consider switching them out for the modern popular choices—gutter brackets, straps, or hangers.

6. Double-Check Your Alignment

The technology of your gutters is actually quite clever. When pros install gutters, they aim for a half-inch slope for every 10 feet of the gutter. If your gutters sag, this throws off the ideal slope and either causes water to pool in one area or sends too much water to one downspout.

Luckily, most sagging gutters are easy to fix by simply securing the gutter screws, nails, or hangers. However, if you notice rot in your fascia holding the screws, it's best to call a gutter installation team.

7. Use Sealant for Leaking Joints

Even seamless gutters typically separate into different sections throughout the downspout and other elbow transitions. If these seams crack or develop major rust, they likely require replacement. 

However, you can also purchase a water-resistant, flexible sealant to temporarily secure the broken joint. Gently squeeze the pipe at the joint of the connecting piece to release it. After ensuring it's clean and dry, apply the sealant according to the instructions and reconnect with clamps for proper curing.

8. Secure Your Downspout Strap

The downspout carries all the water from your gutters and away from your house. If it comes loose from the side of your home, you may need to reconnect your downspout strap. This strip of metal typically connects to the wooden, brick, or concrete siding with concrete screws. 

Double-check the screws are still tightened and, if not, consider calling your local gutter repair team for new straps.

9. Know When to Replace Your Gutters

Even when you remain diligent, gutters only tend to last an average of 20 years. That’s why our last tip is to get to know the signs you need to replace your gutters. These include large cracks, persistent clogs, sagging gutters, and fallen nails or screws. 

As we touched on above, full replacement costs around $1,900, but you'll pay between $4 to $30 per linear foot if you only need a portion of your gutters replaced.

Basic gutter cleaning is often what we think about when our gutter maintenance duties come to mind. But by understanding these small repair tips, you can keep more costly repairs and replacements at bay for longer.

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