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Learn How to Properly Clean, Repair, and Maintain Rain Gutters

Rain Gutter Repair
A rain gutter is built to protect the foundations of a building by carrying water away from its base through a narrow channel. Tips on repairing them are important to know in order to keep them clean and avoid blockages.
Loveleena Rajeev
Last Updated: May 31, 2018
A gutter is built in the roof system for accumulating and diverting rainwater and melted snow. Rainwater drips erode the soil around the foundation, splash muddy water onto the walls, and cause seepages in the basement. Rain gutters and downspouts are installed using a variety of materials like galvanized or painted steel, painted aluminum, copper, PVC pipes, concrete, stone, wood, and fiber. There are three ways in which they can be incorporated in the structure of a building.
  1. A metal trough which is suspended beyond the roof edge and below the slope of the roof.
  2. A narrow channel running along the lower edge of the roof slope and opening into a pipe going downwards.
  3. A stone or brick narrow channel built beneath the roof edge.
Cleaning and Repair

Blocked or clogged channels cause damage to the foundation by seeping water into them. Stagnant water facilitates mosquitoes to breed, and grasses and weeds grow in the narrow trough. Repairing and cleaning these downspouts is equally important as installing them.

Clogged Rain Gutter
Leaves, nuts, and bark pieces block the narrow channels of the water collection system. Most clogs occur around the openings or joints of the pipe and troughs. Due to such blockages, the water will run over the sides or cause seepage in the building. To fix this problem, use ladders to climb up in order to reach the clogged spot. Push a garden trowel, and slide it up and down a few times to pull out the debris. Flush or hose it down with water. One can also use a vacuum cleaner to suck out all the debris. Placing gutter guards will help filter it out.

Leaking Rain Gutters
These pose serious problems, as one may not even realize that there is a leak. It can be caused by disconnected joints, cracks, or holes as a result of wear and tear of the trough over the years, or due to a heavy downpour. A thorough inspection of the entire passage should be done to assess the damage and its repair mechanism.
  • Small Holes or Cracks: For small leaks, wipe the area around them completely dry either using a cloth or a newspaper. Clean out rust using some rust removal solution, and clean out the debris around them. Seal the cracks with some water-resistant glue or waterproof sealant, and check for the effectiveness by flushing some water down.
  • Large Holes or Cracks: Large ones need effective sealing, as they may not be able to withstand water pressure and may burst open. Wipe dry the cracked area, and clean out the rust and debris. Cut out a thin steel sheet, and place it above the cracked portion. Try to place it inside if your hand reaches the cracked part of the trough. Using some water-resistant glue, paste the steel sheet to seal the holes.
Disjointed Trough or Downspouts
This occurs when the force of water erodes the nuts and bolts holding the joints together. To fix this defect, simply press the two sides back together, and tighten the nuts and bolts on them. Try treating the screws with a rust-proof solution to increase their longevity.

Broken trough and downspouts need to be replaced. When gutters and downspouts get damaged, heavy rainwater or melting snow can seep into the walls and right down to the ground below; the paint gets chipped too. Heavy rainwater can weaken the foundation and flood basements in this case.

Timely maintenance is the key to ensure that none of the above-mentioned damages occur to your building.
Leaking Rain Gutters
rain gutter and downspout