A leaky gutter can mean trouble for your house. Seepage running into the structure of the roof or walls can cost you big, especially if gone unchecked. So, when checking your roof’s edge, make sure your runoff system is in good repair.
If it’s not, if you find that the elements have rusted through or split your gutter’s seams, the good news is that the fix can be a do-it-yourself job. You’ll need some basic materials and a little time, but sealing up the hardware typically isn’t very hard.
Check out the following guide for some tips on how to get your roof’s edge once again watertight, and also how to tell if your project needs a pro.
Prepping the Area:
Pick a dry day to work. Use a wire brush or a bit of sandpaper to scour smooth the area around the hole or leaky seam. The goal is to remove any dirt and/or looser bits of rust. You want a clean surface for applying sealant or affixing a patch. Wipe the to-be-fixed section down with an acetone solvent or mineral spirits.
Sealing or Caulking:
There are several kinds of materials that can come in helpful, when it comes to minor holes and leaky seams. For almost-rusted through areas, the folks at HowStuffWorks.com recommend a bit of roof cement to seal the spot. Split seams, on the other hand, are best caulked with a high-quality rubber-based product. Make sure the sealant that you choose is certified for the changing temperature and moisture it’s going to endure (here’s an example from HomeDepot.ca). Apply the seam-seal with a caulking gun. Hugh Cairns, the About the House guy at Castanet.net, recommends over-caulking the area a bit — make sure you get the material around the seam, not just into the split itself.
If you’ve got a fully-formed hole, you can patch it with screening, fiberglass, or metal. Smaller holes can be covered with a screen patch, and then the screen-holes are sealed with roof cement. A larger aperture is best handled with a solid material. Handyman at Reader’s Digest recommends trimming a flexible fiberglass patch 50 millimeters larger than the hole, all around. A rigid metal patch should be cut (usually with tin snips) to about 50 millimeters longer than the hole. For a fiberglass application, use resin adhesive. For metal, you’ll need a rivet gun to pop fasteners in at either end of the patch, then a sealant to cover it completely.
All of these tips are geared toward the small gutter-repair scenario. But what if you’ve got a gutter system that’s full of holes and problems, or a precariously high-up roof?
Since almost all gutter repairs require exposure to heights, and what seems like a small amount of damage at first can signal a wider-spread situation, don’t discount the value of a professional gutter exam and a hired-professional repair job.
If you have concerns about safety, passing the job to the experts allows you to skip the stress of working up high. An expert can tell you if the problem you’ve found is endemic to not having enough downspouts throughout your system. And if the damage to a piece of gutter requires the replacement of a whole section, you may want to consider professional services in that case.
The dismantling of the old section, the installation of a new segment, and the application of a long-term seam where the old and new are joined is a larger-scale project than the tips above are meant to cover.
Fixed a gutter on your home? Share your best tips with others who may be considering the job themselves. We want to hear about your cool repair strategies, but also send in any advice or warnings that can help the first-time DIY.
By James O’Brien