Though they may seem like one of the more minor elements of a home's exterior, gutters play an incredibly important role, notably when it comes to preventing water intrusion into the home and limiting foundation erosion. Yes, gutters take rain water runoff from the roof and work to safely disperse it via a system of downspouts safely away from the home foundation. Doing so ensures that water isn't building up around the foundation of the home, thereby minimizing the risk of the aforementioned water intrusion in the basement and foundation erosion.
But leaky gutters are problematic ones, largely because where there are leaks, there's likely to be water pooling around the foundation of the home. When water pools around the home, there's a much better chance that it will eventually end up in the basement. Nobody wants a flooded basement, and the water damage and potential mold growth that could accompany this. It begs the question: Why are my gutters leaking? Here's a look at the top reasons why your gutters are likely leaking, even when there appears to be no obvious signs of damage:
Top 5 Leaky Gutter Causes
- They're Clogged: According to House Logic, one of the key reasons as to why gutters leak is because they're clogged. This is largely because the likes of leaves, debris, twigs and more forces the gutters to sag from excess weight, which can cause separation in areas between the gutter itself and the edge of the home's fascia. When this occurs, water doesn't drip properly off of the roof and into the gutter, which means that the water will spill straight down onto the foundation below it. Technically, the gutters aren't actually leaking in this situation, but they might as well be. To prevent this from happening, it's recommended that you clean your gutters at least twice a year - preferably once in the spring and again in the fall.
- Bad Joints: Gutters are comprised of a system of pieces that work to channel water away from the home. These pieces typically connect at joints. But over time, it's not uncommon for regular wear and tear to cause the joints to leak. Leaks around the joint areas can often be solved by caulking the inside and outside of the area in question. If the leaks are too severe, however, replacement may be necessary.
- They're Old: The National Association of Homebuilders estimates that a typical gutter system should last for about 20 years. With that being said, if your gutters are leaking and they're about 20 years old, chances are they've just reached the end of their lifetime and need to be replaced.
- They're Not Hung Correctly: If your gutters appear to be leaky during heavy rainfall - but not during moderate or light rainfall - then there's a good chance that the gutters aren't hung right. Gutters should be hung in a way so that water angles toward the downspouts for safe dispersion. If the gutters aren't pitched right, they're not going to drain properly - and this will be particularly noticeable during periods of heavy rainfall when the water funneling into the gutter exceeds what is going through the downspout.
- There's a Hardware Malfunction: Gutters attach to the home via hardware pieces called "hangers." However, over time, these hangers may become loose for a variety of reasons, which can cause the gutters themselves to separate from the home fascia. As we pointed out earlier in this piece, one of the reasons why hangers may become loose is from excess weight they're forced to support from leaves, twigs and debris that remain in the gutters for elongated periods of time. Hanger deterioration and even improper spacing can also contribute to problems.
The Bottom Line
Troubleshooting leaky gutters can be difficult to do, so if you suspect you have a leaky gutter, take a mental note of where the leaks are occurring and grab your ladder out of the shed and check things out. The solution could be something as simple as being more consistent with gutter cleanings. However, as we noted earlier in this piece, all gutters have a shelf life, so replacement is likely inevitable eventually. Gutters are somewhat of an unsung hero when it comes to safeguarding your home from water intrusion, so gutter repair or replacement is not something that you want to put off. For more information on troubleshooting gutter problems, and for details on gutter repair and replacement, contact us today.