Gutters can start leaking for several reasons – but the good news is that carrying out a gutter repair can be quick and easy, no matter what the problem.
There are of course plenty of companies who specialise in gutter repair and maintenance and they are often an attractive option – especially if you cannot face climbing a ladder and clearing out dirt, muck and goodness know what else.
Should you want to save money and sort the issue yourself however, then look no further than these top tips for fixing three different types of leaking gutter problem quickly and easily.
Common gutter problems
Before attempting to fix a leaking gutter, it is important to investigate what is causing the leak in the first place. This then informs the repair method.
The most common gutter problems which require a repair are blockages caused by the build up of materials, leaking joints and cracks or holes.
All of these occur over time and whilst regular gutter maintenance can prevent them happening, they are issues that virtually everybody will face at some point in their life.
How to repair a blocked gutter
Blocked gutters are the most frequent issue requiring repair. Leaves, moss, debris and all kinds of other materials build up to create a blockage robust enough to prevent any water from passing through.
When this happens, water begins spilling over the side of the gutter. In extreme cases, the weight of debris combined with standing water than can no longer drain away can cause the guttering to split.
Cleaning out a blocked gutter is not hard, although it can require a fair bit of elbow grease. It goes without saying, but it is best to wait for a dry day – saturated debris are far harder to remove than dried materials whilst there can be a slip risk involved when using a ladder in wet conditions.
Once you have a sturdy ladder up to reach the guttering, start by using a wire brush or rake to clean your roof. This prevents the guttering becoming instantly blocked again by debris lurking nearby the next time there is a storm.
To remove materials from guttering, use a trowel to collect the debris and either place them in a bucket or drop them onto some tarpaulin strategically placed for collecting the blockages on the floor below.
You can prevent future blockages from occurring by cleaning gutters at least twice a year. The best times to do this are at the beginning of Spring – to remove winter build up – and the start of Autumn, ensuring that guttering is clear ahead of the arrival of harsher weather.
How to seal leaking gutter joints
Over time, gutter joints may deteriorate and this can cause leaks as rainwater escapes through loosened connections.
Depending on the material of your guttering, it may expand and contract depending on temperatures and this too can weaken joint seals.
Leaking gutter joints are straightforward to fix. Scrape out any debris around the joint, ensure it is dry and then apply gutter sealant.
Once the sealant is in place, squeeze the pieces which have become loose together to ensure a strong connection to eliminate the leak.
How to repair a cracked gutter
For larger cracks and holes, a more robust repair material than gutter sealant may be required. In cases such as these, epoxy putty is used to permanently fill areas of damage.
Epoxy putty is made up of two components, resin and hardener. These components are soft until they are mixed together, when a chemical reaction takes place to create a material so hard that when used in pipe repair, it can resist pressure up to 30bar.
Fixing a leaking gutter with epoxy putty is easy. You simply knead the putty by hand and whilst soft, use it to plug the hole or crack requiring repair, sealing the leak.
A fast-working putty allows repairs to be made in under 10 minutes. Epoxy putty comes in different colours, with a product like Sylmasta AB Original Black being ideal for appearing uniform with most types of black guttering. Alternatively, cured putty can be painted.
Epoxy putty is particularly useful for metal guttering, especially when rust is the cause of cracks and holes. Most putties have excellent resistance to corrosion and will help strengthen gutters when applied to areas suffering from damage.
Why you should never ignore a leaking gutter
A broken gutter may not seem as a pressing an issue as leaking pipe repair for example, but to ignore problems with your guttering is a dangerous path to take which can lead to devastating long term consequences.
If rainwater cannot be safely taken away by guttering, then it instead ends up in places you do not want it. Water which collects on roofs rather than in gutters can soak through and rot wooden structural elements.
At ground level, water can pool at the sides of buildings when there is no working guttering to collect it, possibly flooding basements and impacting on the foundations of a building.
Suddenly, the 30 minutes it takes to fix a leaking gutter seems worthwhile compared to the potential structural instability that water damage can cause to homes and properties.