The gutters on your home serve as the first line of defense against water damage. They perform a critical function by redirecting rain and snow away from your house and foundation. Gutter systems are designed to protect your house, foundation, roof, and siding, as well as your basement and landscaping.
A properly functioning gutter diverts water away from the home, ensuring it does not seep into your house through cracks in the foundation. But, as with most things, even the best rain gutter system won't last forever. If you notice water pooling in the gutters or dripping from your roof's edge, it may be time to replace your old gutter system with a new one (though it may also just mean you need to clean out the gutters). Let's look at some signs that your rain gutters need to be replaced.
Your Rain Gutters Are Rusty
Rust is one of the first signs that your rain gutters need an upgrade. Keep an eye out for rusty areas, and perform a thorough visual inspection at least once per year for signs of rust. Why is rust a problem? It creates areas of weakness that can lead to leaks. If you see more than surface rust, it's time to replace your gutters.
Also, look for signs of corrosion. With heavy rains, corroded or rusty areas become prone to leaks and can collapse under pressure from the weight of water during the storm. Being weaker, corroded metal may also break when human hands touch it, making it unsafe for anyone who works on roofs.
You Have Leaks
One sign that your rain gutters are performing poorly is rainwater pooling at the bottom of your home or around the foundation. Another sign of poorly functioning rain gutters is water stains on your ceiling or walls. You might notice spots on your ceiling or walls from inside your home. Another sign is staining on the inside portion of the gutter or the wall behind it. This means that water is not draining properly down the side of your house.
Leaks and clogs can cause serious issues. If there is a clog in the gutter, water can back up and cause problems with the foundation or exterior paint job. If you have cleaned out the gutters recently, and they clog again in a relatively short time, this can be a sign that your gutters are not doing their job and need to be replaced. Excessive leaking can also lead to mold growth inside your home's walls and on your house's exterior. Mold is not only unsightly, it is also a health issue. A professional contractor can help solve this problem by repairing or replacing damaged gutters as needed.
You Have Leaves in Your Gutter System
It's not uncommon for leaves and other debris to make their way into your gutter system, but don't let them stay there. Leaf and debris build up, obstruct water drainage, and cause damage, including foundation cracks if you ignore it. Inspect your system regularly and remove build-up before it creates more costly problems.
Your Rain Gutters Are More Than 20 Years Old
If your gutters are more than 20 years old, there's a good chance they are coming apart at the seams. Rain gutters have a finite life span. While some signs of rust or corrosion could show after only 10 years, rain gutters can last 15 or 20 years before you need to replace them. But don't count on your rain gutters to perform well after that. Faulty construction, poor installation, or external damage from storms can further shorten their lifespan.
Hire a Professional for the Job
Are you convinced you need to replace your rain gutters? If you're not comfortable or familiar with installing a new rain gutter, hire a professional to do it for you. You can save money by doing it yourself, but it's time-consuming, messy, and risky. Also, a professional can tell you whether you need to replace the whole system or just a portion of your rain gutters. If your gutters are fairly new, you may only need to repair one or two areas. Repairing is easier and less costly than replacing the whole system.
The Bottom Line
Gutters are one of the most neglected parts of a home, but they play a critical role in protecting the exterior of your home. You'll need to remove your old gutters before installing the new one, and that's a hassle if you've never done it before. Keep an eye on them, though. Don't let leaves or debris block them or let rust go undetected.