Gutters are an important part of your home’s drainage system, and if they aren’t properly maintained, they can cause a lot of damage. Gutters direct rainwater away from your home, and if they become clogged with leaves or other debris, the water can overflow and seep into your roof or walls. This can lead to water damage and expensive repairs.

Repair or Replace

Everyone faces this dilemma eventually: do you try to fix something or do you just replace it? Do you try to speed up your slow laptop, or just go out and get the newest model? You cracked your phone’s screen — do you have the screen fixed or do you just buy another one? When it comes to deciding whether to repair or replace something, there are a few factors to consider. Age, condition, and the amount of use are all important considerations when making this decision. Another thing to keep in mind is how much money you think you will save by repairing the item as opposed to replacing it.

Your home’s gutters, just like other items, will require you to answer this question, too. Will you take the effort to fix up your gutters or shell out on a handyman to repair them, or will you just have the whole thing replaced?

Repairing Your Gutters

In general, you can just opt for doing small repairs if the only issues you find are the following:

  • If the damage is localized, you can just fix that part instead. Patching up or replacing sections is cheaper and faster than replacing your entire system.
  • If there are only small holes and cracks, you can repair them yourself. For holes, clean them with alcohol, and make sure there is no dust or debris around them. Then, use a sealant to patch over the holes, such as L R Liquid Rubber Waterproof Sealant (priced at around $35 for a quart) and GE GE5050 Silicone II Aluminum and Metal Sealant ($25 for 10 ounces). As for cracks, you can use the same method, but take note that larger cracks will require flashing. Place flashing over the crack and seal the edges to make sure that water doesn’t get through. You can use rivets to put the flashing on, but make sure it stays waterproof after.
  • If only a single joint or seam is leaking, repair it. Check whether elbow joints or guttering sections are securely fastened. If they are loose, you can use sealant to repair the seam.
  • If a few hangers are loose, you can tighten them using a screwdriver. However, if the holes they are screwed into are getting loose, you will need a power drill to make new holes for the hangers to be attached to.
  • If the hangers are bent, you can bend them back into shape, but you will have to do this by eye. The easiest way is to just replace the hangers.
  • If you have copper gutters, it’s more cost-effective to patch them up than replace them. Copper costs a lot, so repairing small issues (even if they are numerous) will definitely cost way less.

In general, you can do these repairs with a ladder. If you have a vertical platform lift, all the better. Just make sure to stay safe!

A man with a cap up on a ladder holding a gutter section in place

Replacing Your Gutters

Sometimes, some things are just so badly damaged that repairing them is a waste of time, money, and energy. Here are the things you should look out for:

  • If your gutters were not maintained and have accumulated lots of little repairs. Gutters that are full of holes, cracks, holes, or rust are better replaced. The extent of the damage may already be affecting its structural integrity, and at this point, trying to treat all these issues may cost you as much as replacing the whole system.
  • If your hangers keep falling out after you have tried to screw them back in several times, you need to have your fascia boards replaced. Some contractors offer to repair fascia boards that are rotting or deteriorating.
  • If your gutters’ sections keep splitting apart despite several attempts to seam them back together, you need to have them replaced. You can opt for seamless gutters so that you won’t have to deal with this issue again. This also goes for gutter systems with few seams.
  • If large sections are sagging, you will need to have them replaced. This is because when a large section sags, a quick fix will probably not fix it. Replace it immediately so that water keeps flowing and doesn’t cause your gutter to collapse.
  • If your gutter is dented or buckles under heavy weight or impacts, you will need to replace it. For example, your gutter is dented by a falling tree branch or your ladder — it will be difficult to force it back into shape. If you only damaged a small section, you should just replace it instead of trying to bend it back into shape. In addition, if you have seamless gutters, that whole run will have to be replaced.

Conclusion

Knowing when to repair and when to replace your gutters can save you time, energy, and money. Even if you are replacing a whole run or system, that can save you money in the long run, too! However, if only a few things need repairing and you have the tools and equipment to do so yourself, then go ahead and make the repairs. Stay safe, and have fun doing them!

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