Gutter Leaks: Identifying Common Causes
Given enough time, gutter leaks will spring in every material from galvanized steel to aluminum to PVC. Some materials are more durable than others, though. Factoring this along with the price into the decision of which type of gutter material to go with can make the issue of gutter leaks a less frequent one. The most common gutter material is galvanized steel. It is relatively inexpensive and durable enough to withstand all types of weather. Aluminum gutters are an alternative. They tend to last longer, but they are prone to dents. With metal gutters, the common causes of leaking fall into 3 categories: cracks, holes and misplaced joints.
Cause #1: Cracks
Galvanized steel is especially prone to this occurrence. The gutters need to be repainted every few years depending on the weather they are exposed to. After time, extreme cold will stress and fracture the steel, especially as the paint begins to chip away. The most likely place on the gutters for cracks to occur is at the seams or anywhere that separate pieces come together, such as braces or gutter nails. Wherever there is an opening there is a greater chance for water and rust to accumulate underneath the protective paint coating.
Cause #2: Holes
Holes in gutters may be caused by old age, but they may also indicate that pooled water has formed rust in places. This, in turn, has eaten through the metal and caused a leak. If gutters are continually clogged with leaves and other debris or if they are not properly sloped, water stands a better chance of pooling. Eventually, this will lead to rusting, corrosion and leaking.
Cause #3: Joints
Probably the most common cause of leaking gutters is misplaced joints. Connector pieces such as elbow joints often spring leaks simply from being improperly installed. If water is blocked from its exit through the downspout, it is going to seek the path of least resistance. If there is a connecting joint nearby, it is likely that the water will make it through. Fixing leaking joints requires climbing up to the gutters and either repositioning the connector or replacing it. It is, however, an easier fix than cracked or rusting gutters.
How to Solve Leaks
The best way to take care of leaking gutters is to avoid the circumstances that cause them. Clean out your gutters twice annually. Make sure they are properly pitched so that water runs downhill and out. Install leaf guards so they cannot clog up with debris that block water. When it is time to replace the gutters, consider a material such as aluminum which can be installed seamlessly. This creates less of a chance for leaking. PVC is another option, as is copper, although copper gutters are very expensive. There are even gutter-less gutters which break up falling rainwater into beads that run off your home. They are different, but with them there is nothing to clean.
If you do detect a leak in your gutters, it is best to take care of it right away before it becomes a real problem. Leaking gutters can damage the siding of your home as well as the foundation if left unattended.