Gutters that aren't working properly can cause more harm than good. Overflowing gutters may lead to ice dams in winter, water damage to house eaves and walls, foundation damage, or damage may happen to the gutters themselves. A twice annual inspection of your gutters – once in spring and again in fall – is the best way to prevent most issues.
#1: Remove the Clogs
Unless you have gutter guards installed, you will need to clean out the gutters semi-annually. This primarily consists of scooping out dead leaves and debris that collects in the gutters and disposing of it. Then, use a garden hose to flush out the gutters and to flush any debris down and out of the downspouts. Wear gloves when performing this chore, because there can be some unpleasant items in a gutter.
#2: Check for Sags
Now that the gutters are clean, perform a quick visual inspection. At this point you are primarily looking for sags in the guttering or areas where the gutters aren't flush to the roof line. Check that all the clips that hold the gutters in place are present and attached securely. If you find a sagging portion, chances are you have a missing or loose clip that requires replacement.
#3: Look for Pooling Water
After repairing the obvious damage, look inside the gutters. You may have a problem if there are any areas along the length of the gutter where water has pooled. First, double-check that section to make sure there isn't a missing clip and a slight sag. If there's no missing clip, use a level to make sure the slope of the guttering toward the nearest downspout is consistent. You may have to raise or lower the gutter slightly so that it's level and the water flows toward the downspout.
#4: Perform a Leak Test
Finally, perform the important leak test. It helps to have a second person with a hose sending water off the roof and into the gutters. You want to check for leaks both from the gutters and from behind the gutters – between the roof eave and the gutter pipes. If you find leaks behind the gutters, either the gutter apron needs replaced or your gutters need adjusted so the water flows into them.
Leaks from the gutters themselves mean one of two things. There is either damage to the guttering, necessitating replacement, or the seals on one of the joints has given out. Adding a new gutter clip or a bead of waterproof caulk around the leak can provide a quick fix.
If getting up on your roof or performing tedious repairs isn't for you, schedule a gutter cleaning with a company like WorkPro Window Gutter & Pressure Cleaning Ltd. Most professional gutter cleaners not only perform the cleaning chore, they also provide a full inspection and basic repairs to the gutter system.