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Eavestrough Q & A
eavestrough repair inspection

Eavestrough Repair Questions and Answers

These question may help with some issues you have with your eavestrough

  1. Q. I have noticed that small holes have developed in the bottom of my metal eavestrough. I think they are about 20 years old and when it rains water comes through. When it is not raining, I can see light through the tiny holes in the metal. Even though there is not many, there is enough to make it annoying since the water splashes dirt up on the siding of the house. Can I do a temporary repair for now?

  2. Q: As the snow and ice have melted off my roof this spring, I've noticed water running down behind the eavestrough. The eaves are lined with metal drip strips which are supposed to prevent this problem, but it looks like this stuff is too narrow to do the job. I just bought a much wider drip strip and installed it over the existing one as a fix, but it doesn't solve the problem completely. What can I do now?

  3. Q: How many times a year to I need to clean my troughs?

  4. Q: How to clean eavestrough?

  5. Q: How to Clear Clogged eavestrough and Downspouts

  6. Q: How to Fix Sagging Rain Eavestrough

  7. Q: How to Repair Leaky Rain Gutters

  8. Q: How to Stop Eavestroughs from Overflowing

  9. Q: How Keep Downspout Runoff Water From Pooling at House

Q. I have noticed that small holes have developed in the bottom of my metal eavestrough. I think they are about 20 years old and when it rains water comes through. When it is not raining, I can see light through the tiny holes in the metal. Even though there is not many, there is enough to make it annoying since the water splashes dirt up on the siding of the house. Can I do a temporary repair for now?

A. Temporary repairs can be made to metal eavestroughs in a number of ways. Sometimes installing a good quality silicone made especially for exterior use will plug smaller holes. Make sure that the metal is well cleaned with solvent and a rag and completely dry before installing the silicone. For larger holes two galvanized washers with a galvanized stove bolt could make the repair. Insert a washer over the stove bolt and then insert it through the hole. Next, place some silicone around the bolt and place the second washer on top of the silicone. Then tighten the nut down inside the eavestrough. This works well for holes that could be covered with a standard diameter washer.

For larger areas that may be rusted through, a temporary repair can be made by installing some galvanized tin shaped as close as possible to the existing eavestrough or indeed if the exact design of your eavestrough still exists, a small length of the same eavestrough glued inside the eavestrough with silicone caulking compound. Remember that these repairs are just temporary but when done from the inside very little will be noticeable from the outside. If the eavestroughs have rusted through in these areas you can be assured that they are about to rust through in other areas. When choosing eavestroughs, consider continuous pre-painted steel or vinyl eavestroughs. Continuous eavestroughs are made on site by a professional contractor using special equipment that forms galvanized sheet metal into an eavestrough profile.


Q: As the snow and ice have melted off my roof this spring, I've noticed water running down behind the eavestrough. The eaves are lined with metal drip strips which are supposed to prevent this problem, but it looks like this stuff is too narrow to do the job. I just bought a much wider drip strip and installed it over the existing one as a fix, but it doesn't solve the problem completely. What can I do now?

A: You've got a very common situation. It sounds like rainwater is running over the drip edge and back down against the edge of the roof line (fascia) where it runs down behind the eavestrough. I've dealt with this problem personally, and can recommend an excellent solution. First, get some aluminum fascia that matches the colour of your eavestrough. Next, put the fascia on a long, flat wooden surface, and score the back face with a stout utility knife along its entire length. You're aiming to make a strip of aluminum that's wide enough to tuck under the bottom lip of the drip edge, then extend down and overlap the top, back edge of the eavestrough. This strip should rest on the anchors that hold the eavestrough to your house. Score the aluminum with one deep pass, then bend it back and forth a few times by hand. It will break easily along a nice, crisp line, leaving you ready to install it. Tuck the aluminum strip underneath the bottom lip of the drip edge, and over top the back edge of the eavestrough where it fastens to the house. Now nothing can get behind the trough, no matter how the rain flows.


Q: How many times a year to I need to clean my troughs?

A: Plan to clean gutters at least twice a year--more often if the roof is directly beneath trees. But only take on this task yourself if you know you can work safely from a ladder or the roof. If your roof is higher than a single story or you're unsure of your job's safety, you're better off hiring a professional.


Q: How to clean eavestrough?

A: Choose a sturdy ladder and place it on a firm, level base. A tall stepladder can be easier to use than an extension ladder; if you must lean an extension ladder against a gutter, protect the gutter from bending by placing a short piece of 2-by-4 inside it. Stand on the ladder with your hips between the rails--don't lean out over the sides. Never stand on the top two rungs.

If you're comfortable working from the rooftop and your roof has a very low pitch, this can be easier than working from a ladder. But only do this under extremely safe conditions. Never work on the roof in wet, icy, or windy conditions. Wear non-slip shoes and never lean over the edge or work near power lines.

When cleaning gutters, wear heavy work gloves to protect your hands. Gutters often have sharp metal parts or screw points sticking out into their troughs; take care to avoid cutting your hands. Also wear safety glasses or goggles.

The conventional method for cleaning gutters is discussed below. A method sometimes used by home handymen on low-sloped roofs is to blow dry debris out of gutters with a leaf-blower. If you use this method, wear goggles and a dust mask, and be very careful!

Leaf-catching gutter systems are highly touted by manufacturers, but most are not a complete solution. Debris eventually settles through them and the screens must be removed to clean out gutters. Some systems are very expensive. If you opt to buy a leaf-catching system, be sure it can be easily removed for cleaning.

1. Scoop out loose debris
Starting at a drain outlet at the low end of a gutter, use a narrow garden trowel to scoop out loose debris, working away from drain outlet. It's usually easiest to do this when the debris is slightly damp and pliable--not soggy or dried and encrusted. To minimize cleanup later, you can scoop the debris into a plastic garbage can liner.

2. Blast out the gutters with a hose
Using an on-off high-pressure nozzle mounted at the end of a water hose, wash out each length of gutter, working toward the drain outlet. This can be a messy job—avoid splattering mud all over your house. If necessary, use a stiff scrub brush to break loose encrusted dirt.

3. Clear obstructions in drainpipes
If water doesn't drain freely through drainpipes, try flushing debris down them with the hose. If that doesn't work, use a plumber's auger (snake) to free and pull out debris from the bottom as shown. You can help keep the drainpipes free of debris by installing leaf strainers in at the tops (these are available at home-improvement centers and hardware stores).

4. Repair leaks.
If you see areas where water is leaking through seams between gutter sections, mark the leak locations with chalk, allow the gutter to dry completely, then seal the leaks from inside with gutter seal.

5. Re-align sagging gutters.
If gutters are not sloped properly at a pitch of 1 inch for each 20 feet of length, they won't drain properly toward downspouts. To support sagging gutters, bend or add new hangers, or add new fasteners.


Q: How to Clear Clogged eavestrough and Downspouts

A: On most roofs, it's easiest to clean out gutters from a ladder; as you move around the house, be careful to position the ladder on sound footing and lean it where it won't bend or scratch gutters. To strengthen a lightweight aluminum gutter, you can set a short 2 by 4 inside it, flat side down. Consider installing a gutter guard, available at hardware stores, to minimize leaves and debris from entering gutters.

Clean your gutters at least twice a year to keep them from getting clogged. It’s easiest to do this when the leaves and gunk in the gutters has had a chance to dry out. A leaf blower works pretty well for blowing out loose debris; wear eye protection. Otherwise, starting at the gutter’s high point, just scoop out the debris with your hands; wear protective gloves to protect your hands from screws and sharp edges. When most of the debris is out, use a stiff brush to loosen caked-on dirt. Mount a high-pressure nozzle with a shutoff valve on the end of a garden hose, so you can control the flow from your ladder, then flush out the gutters.


Q: How to Fix Sagging Rain Eavestrough

A: Check for signs of standing water or water marks along the inner sides of eavestrough. With a level, check the slope --gutters should drop about 1/4 inch for each 10 feet of run toward the downspouts. Adjust, reseat, or add gutter hangers as needed.


Q: How to Repair Leaky Rain Gutters

A: If your gutters are leaking, the prime suspects are the joints between sections. Standing water in gutters eventually will rust galvanized steel or seep through seams of aluminum gutters. Check for signs of standing water and sagging (see above). Adjust or add gutter hangers as needed. Allow insides of gutters to dry out, brush leaking seams clean, and then apply silicone-rubber caulking compound along the seams on the inside and outside of the gutter to seal the leak.

Patch small holes with roofing cement. Use a putty knife to spread the cement generously around the hole. Do this on a warm day or otherwise warm the cement to room temperature so it spreads easily.

Repair larger holes in your gutters by covering them with patches. Take a sheet-metal patch, embed it in roofing cement, then apply another coat of cement over the patch.

1) Seal leaky joints with silicone caulk.
2) Patch a hole in a gutter with roofing cement and a small piece of sheet metal.

If your climate delivers abundant rainfall, you may want to have your downspout run into a dry well. The well should be a hole 2 to 4 feet wide and 3 feet deep, or a 55-gallon drum, with both ends removed and filled with rocks, that you’ve buried and punctured with holes. Underground drainage pipes should slope to the dry well, which will effectively keep water away from the house’s foundations. Check local building codes before installing.


Q: How to Stop Eavestroughs from Overflowing

A: If your eavestroughs overflow, either the gutters or downspouts are clogged (see above), or they are too small to handle the volume of runoff. If they’re not stopped up, install new, larger downspouts first. If that doesn’t solve the problem, have larger gutters installed by a professional gutter installer.


Q: How Keep Downspout Runoff Water From Pooling at House

A: Divert downspout runoff away from the house, using downspout extenders. Though you can make an extender from a section of downspout material, flexible plastic pipe extenders will carry runoff several feet away, are easy to adjust, and move out of the way when they’re not needed.

 


Q: How to Fix a Broken or Loose Gutter Downspout

A: Downspouts may break loose or disconnect from the gutter outlet or between sections. To refasten them, push them together, drill pilot holes, and fasten with two 3/8-inch by #8 galvanized sheet-metal screws. (Don’t use longer screws because debris will hang-up on them.) Be sure the anchor straps that hold downspouts to the wall are secure.

Note: By fastening the top downspout to the S-curve outlet with only one screw at each joint, the downspout is much easier to take down for regular cleaning.

     

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