gutters and downspouts

gutters and downspouts

gutters and downspouts

Regardless of how well you maintain your home's rain gutters and downspouts, problems will always arise at times. The good news is that most all gutter issues can be easily fixed and don't require professional skills. Here is a look at the 5 most common gutter and downspout problems along with tips to fix them.




The first device is called a gutter downspout screen. It is simply a strainer that has been designed to easily mold to the shape of a downspout and prevent leaves and debris from entering the downspout. When installed, a gutter downspout screen will prevent the gutter downspouts and drains from clogging, which is a primary cause of gutters backing up.


Gutter downspout screens are easy to install. After removing the screen from the package, form the screen in the shape of the downspout-whether it be a square, rectangle or circle. Install the screen in a clean gutter with the closed end upwards. Tension is sufficient to hold the screen in place and you will want to place the screen about halfway down the drain of the gutter so that the top of the screen forms a "bulb."


When properly installed, the gutter downspout screen will prevent leaves, twigs and other debris from entering the downspout. In addition, it will make cleaning your gutters much easier.





In general, I'm not a big fan of gutter guards. That discussion I'll leave to another article. The short answer is that can be expensive, can actually cause more problems than they solve and can lure a homeowner into the false belief that their gutters never require servicing again.


Suffice to say, however, gutter guards do have their time and place. One such application is in an area of gutters subject to significant debris.


I suppose "significant debris" is wholly subjective. But at my home, for example, I have one stretch of gutters that need to be cleaned three to four times each fall. For me, that is entirely too much! I have more important things to do with my time than clean the same gutter multiple times per year.


Gutter guards come in many shapes, styles, colors, sizes and designs. Many niche service companies offer their own unique design or brand and similarly tout their superiority to every other gutter guard on the market.


For now I'll dodge the issue of the merits of gutter guard designs, for my purpose here isn't to evaluate or compare designs or products. Instead I want to focus on the benefit than any gutter guard claims to achieve. Namely, to reduce or eliminate the need for gutter cleaning.


While gutter guards rarely eliminate the need to clean the gutters, they can significant eliminate the majority of leaves and debris that enter a gutter-thereby reduce the cleaning interval.





Many of these gutter guards are readily available at any home improvement store and can be installed by a minimally-skilled Do-it-Yourself homeowner. Most units are simply designed to "snap" into place and provide some sort of mesh or screen to allow water to pass through while eliminating large object from entering the gutter.


After cleaning the gutters and downspouts, loosen the bond between the trailing edge of roof shingles and the drip edge. Then slide the flat side of the gutter guard underneath the shingle while aligning the other end of the screen toward the front edge of the gutter. The lip on the gutter guard is designed to snap on to the edge of the gutter.


In areas of the gutter exposed to high winds, drill small holes through the guard and anchor it to the gutter with small stainless steel screws. Otherwise, the tension of the lip on the guard and the shingle will keep the screen in place.




While screens and guards may significantly reduce the amount of debris allowed into your gutter, they often do not eliminate it. In addition, many other factors unrelated to debris can affect gutter performance, so it is wise to have these gutters and downspouts inspected annually and cleaned, if necessary.






gutters and downspouts