Answers to Your Gutter Questions

Q. Half of the gutter going across the front of my house had fallen down when I had someone remove all of the ice that had accumulated. Should I just take down the part that is hanging or remove the gutter from the entire front of the house until I can get it replaced?


Take it all down for now if you can, that way any melting water or rain coming off the roof will drip off the entire roof edge, instead of all the water running out of where the gutter is down now.

Q. We have a gutter that runs the full 36-foot length of the house with one downspout at the corner. The gutter is pitched to that one downspout but during a heavy rain, the gutter overflows at the high end. Can I add another downspout somewhere at the top of the run without removing the gutter from the house? What kind of tools do I need to make an opening for the downspout in the aluminum gutter?

A. Locate a home improvement center which would have the round gutter outlets. Then take that outlet over to the tools section and match it up with the same size metal hole saw cutter. This attaches to a drill. Just drill a hole in the bottom of gutter and, if you picked out the right size cutter, the outlet should just "snap" in place by pushing it in the hole from the inside of gutter. You might need to gently tap it into place with a hammer.

Q. I have a gutter that butts up against a section of my home. I've been getting water inside a closet and it appears there's a large hole in the stucco behind the gutter where it butts against the wall. I need to move the gutter away from the fascia by about 6 inches so I can get back in there and repair it. The total section of gutter is about 12 feet and I don't want to pull the whole thing down. It is attached with spikes. What is the best way to pull off the gutter enough - maybe two spikes - to get access to the hole? Will there be any difficulty reattaching it?

A. Since this gutter is only 12 ft. long, I'd suggest you just remove it. You can use a standard pry-bar and hammer. First, check to see if there are any nails running through the back of the gutter. Many gutter guys hang the gutter first with nails, and then support it with the spikes or other hangers. If it is nailed, then remove the spikes first by carefully positioning the pry-bar against the head of the spike. Tap it outward, away from the gutter. This will remove all but the most stubborn of spikes, which sometimes need to be cut with a hacksaw. Then remove the nails. When re-hanging the gutter, tack it in place with a few nails, making sure you angle the slope towards the downspout. I suggest you use hidden hangers, found at building supply stores. You might find hidden hangers, which come complete with screws. Two problems with spikes and ferrules are: constantly working loose and the possibility of banging/denting the gutter. Take it down and then work on the small tips still in the fascia board. After you are done and put the new gutter up, there by the wall slip a small metal step shingle under the second shingle and angle it away from the wall. This way, the water will have to go over some to get into the gutter and not run down between the wall and gutter.

Q. With the recent snow and freezing temperatures in New Jersey, my gutter, downspouts and drainpipes are frozen. The gutters have ice dams. Luckily, I had only one small leak. Maybe I'm wrong, but would it help to have the downspouts and drainpipes kept thawed to allow the gutters to drain water before they freeze? Would disconnecting the down spouts from the gutters help?

A. You can purchase a "gutter heat tape" or "heat cable," made for exterior use. It's available in various lengths. It comes with instructions and it's relatively easy to install. It can plug into an outside outlet. When choosing the length you need, allow for the fact that it will run through the inside of your gutter as well as zigzagging in and out of your gutter up onto the roof itself. You can run one end of it through the downspout if so desired. Roofing materials wholesalers may offer a wider selection of lengths than typical "big box" stores.

Q. I used TSP and pressure washer to clean, but what used to be a bright white gutter is still a dirty flat gray gutter. Is there a better way to clean or can I just paint them now?

A. Wash off any dirt and chalking the best you can, and then apply good quality paint. Many stains just get better with cleaning. It takes the paint to refresh it.

Visit our Community Forums for more answers to your home improvement questions.