Have you ever walked outside your home and noticed that its gutter system doesn’t seem quite right? Perhaps the problem is sagging gutters. Sagging gutters are not evenly straight from one end to the other and gradually slope. They are an indication of a more significant issue, which is inadequate gutter support from the hangers or the fascia.
Several things can cause sagging gutters, including clogs, water damage, damage to the gutter, loose hangers, improper installation, and severe weather. Left unaddressed, gutters bulging downward often lead to water damage, mold, foundation and landscape erosion, ice dams, and damaging pests.
Let’s dive into the most common ways gutter professionals fix sagging gutters. Learning how to fix sagging gutters yourself is a handy skill, especially if you plan to be a homeowner. We will describe how to diagnose, replace, or repair sagging gutters according to their design.
How to Fix Sagging Gutters
Before discussing how to fix sagging gutters, you need to determine the installer’s fastening method. Some gutters are held in place by spikes, straps, or screws, while others employ a fastener called a hidden hanger.
Problems with the fascia boards are a possible cause of sagging gutters. If you have a gutter sagging in the middle, it usually indicates that it has detached from the fascia board.
However, in some cases, the gutter is attached firmly to the fascia, but the fascia has separated from the rafters.
Here’s how to distinguish whether your gutters or the fascia board is loose.
Identifying the Cause
Step 1. Examine the roof line just above the gutter. If you can see a gap under the roof sheathing, the fascia board, or rafters, the fascia boards have probably suffered water damage, leading to the fastener detachment.
Step 2. If there is no gap under the roof sheathing but the gutter is noticeably sagging, one or more gutter fasteners have loosened.
Choosing the Materials and Methods
Fixing sagging gutters involves repairing the gutters, the fascia, or both. Gutters are typically installed using some form of a gutter spike, screw, strap, or hidden hanger. The fasteners should pass through the fascia board and penetrate the rafters by at least 1 ½”.
Each method has pros and cons, but most professionals use hidden hangers to install gutters in modern construction.
Generally, you will have to use the same type of fastener originally used to install the gutter when fixing sagging gutters.
Gutter Spikes and Screws
Gutter spikes and screws work the same way. Both pass through pre-drilled holes in the front and back of the gutter and are driven into the fascia and rafters.
When these fasteners fail, the cause is usually wood rot around the hole made by the fastener. When the wood expands due to moisture, it releases its grip on the fastener. The result is a nearby sag in the gutter.
Gutter spikes and screws can cause two problems. If they detach, you can’t just beat them back in. If you drive the fastener into the hole it just fell out of, the result will be the same.
Fixing the Problem
If the gutter spikes (or screws) have detached from the fascia board, inspect the fascia board carefully. You don’t want to repair the gutters only to discover they must be removed anyway to repair water damage.
If the fascia boards show no signs of wood rot and are otherwise okay, the problem may have been caused by a crack in the board. Avoid replacing the spike in the same place along the fascia, as this will make the gap worse. Pre-drill another hole in the front and back of the gutter at least 12” from the crack. Use a bit long enough to pass through the gutter and make a pilot hole in the fascia. Avoid angling the spike or screw to the left or right.
If you must reposition a gutter spike or screw to correct a sagging gutter, drill new, straight holes and use a high-quality, exterior grade caulk to seal the extra holes.
Straps are standard with curved gutters, like the half-round type. These gutter styles have no flat surface to place against the fascia, so straps or special brackets hold the gutter at just the right angle.
When a gutter begins to sag, often the culprit is simply a loose screw in the fascia supporting the strap.
Straps usually use fasteners such as a roofing tack or copper nail that is driven into the fascia or a small, corrosion-resistant screw. This makes readjusting gutter straps considerably easier.
Fixing the Problem
To fix a sagging gutter with straps, leaving the existing straps in place and installing extra ones might work. Removing the straps will leave a mark on the gutters, so it’s easier to leave them in place and install a new one besides the loose ones.
Repairing sagging gutters with this method is just a matter of repositioning the strap and re-installing the screw.
Hidden hangers are the most common way to install gutters in this day and age. They are the most secure, durable, and adjustable of all gutter installation methods, and the hangers aren’t visible from the ground after installation.
Like straps, hidden hangers are designed to be adjustable over the long term.
Fixing the Problem
There’s not much effort required when fixing sagging gutters using hidden hangers. Hidden hangers do not damage the gutter in any way and are infinitely removable and replaceable. If a sag is discovered, loosen the screw, move the hanger over a few inches to the right or left, and re-install the screw until the problem is corrected.
When to Hire a Professional to Fix Sagging Gutters
As a DIYer, you may be able to repair sagging gutters if the damage isn’t extensive. For instance, it’s usually pretty straightforward to re-install a screw if you’re comfortable dealing with heights.
If you perform regular maintenance or have a gutter contractor regularly inspect your home’s gutters, your gutters aren’t likely to develop a sagging problem.
However, if the gutters are already sagging significantly, full of debris, or you suspect water damage, calling in a pro will be the least expensive option in the long run.
If the gutters are in poor condition, the damage to the fascia, soffit, and rafters probably occurred first. In this case, a roofing expert is best.
In most cases, gutter and roofing professionals work together, or a contractor is skilled at both. They have the experience and training to do the work safely and cost-effectively.
Individual repairs require different skills, methods, and equipment. A professional gutter repairer or roofing expert will have the comprehensive knowledge and tools to do the job correctly.
If you want to try repairing your sagging gutters, it’s best to know what caused the sag and which installation method to use.
What Causes Sagging Gutters?
Gutters can sag on either end, but most occur when the gutter is sagging in the middle. The gutter will have a twisted appearance as the water presses down on the unsupported sections.
A gutter sagging in the middle can often be lifted to the correct gutter slope by relocating the fasteners.
Clogs cause gutters to hold more water than they were designed to. Gutters were designed to move water, so the water’s weight and the debris causing the clog overwhelms the fasteners. Sags indicate the water cannot drain.
If cost is a factor, screen, foam, and brush-type gutter guards will do the best job of preventing clogs.
Physical damage to the gutter will cause a sag because the water cannot drain toward the downspout, assuming the gutter slope is incorrect. Sags are caused by trapped water that can neither drain to the left nor the right.
After you’ve repaired any gutter damage, install a gutter guard system appropriate for your home.
If you have a few tall trees nearby, brush and foam-type gutter guards may be your best option. If debris regularly clogs your gutters, consider mesh or reverse curve gutter guards for their low maintenance.
Loose hangers are often the main culprit of sagging gutters. When one hanger releases its grip, the others cannot replace the holding power.
As a result, the gutter sags, essentially becoming less of a straw and more of a cup.
Opt for gutter types like K and box styles to avoid sags due to loose hangers. These designs are very friendly to hidden hangers, which are the easiest to adjust.
When gutters are installed incorrectly, it can lead to improper gutter sloping. Gutters should be installed at just the right angle to the downspout, or sags tend to develop.
Gutters and downspouts also need to be correctly sized to avoid prematurely failing.
A gutter professional is your best bet at correcting an improper installation, as they are experienced and skilled for the task at hand and will stake their reputation on their work, ensuring a high-quality performance of your gutter system. Most also provide a warranty, so if the problem reoccurs, they will be responsible for resolving it.
Weather damage includes a wide range of impacts, from falling debris to wind uplift. Stormwater can cause mold, erosion, and water damage if left uncontrolled. Homeowners’ insurance policies often cover replacement for damage due to weather.
As with impact and corrosion damage, a professional contractor should replace weather-damaged gutters. Damage may also occur to the fascia, roof, and soffit, so you’ll need a company that also specializes in roofing repairs and replacements.
Trimming back limbs from trees and cleaning the roof will increase the protection of your gutters from weather damage.
What Are the Consequences of Sagging Gutters?
Sagging gutters can contribute to many undesirable impacts on your home. Here is a look at some of them.
Sagging gutters indicate overflowing of the gutters. Often the water spills over into the interior framing, like the fascia, soffit, and rafters. The result is often wood rot and other water damage. Sags are best prevented by regularly inspecting and maintaining the gutters, downspouts, and fascia boards.
Mold requires moisture to survive; unfortunately, sagging gutters are a culprit. Since sagging gutters never completely drain, the excess moisture often becomes a breeding ground for mold. But if you adjust sagging gutters until the problem resolves, the mold won’t have the moisture it needs to survive and will safely drain away.
Overflows caused by a sagging gutter often fall several feet to the ground, eroding the topsoil. Erosion around a foundation is a common cause of cracking, which can be expensive. The key is to immediately address sagging gutters that are causing the erosion, as foundation issues are among the most time-consuming and expensive to correct.
Landscaping can be washed away during heavy rain when sags in the gutter overflow. Overflows can damage the soil by washing away the loose topsoil used to grow plant life. Homeowners should correct any sagging gutters before installing landscaping to avoid erosion issues.
Pests like carpenter ants and termites are drawn to moist wood. The potential damage they can cause is significant yet isn’t always apparent because it can occur inside walls and other areas that aren’t visible. If you’ve had a sagging gutter for a while, have your home inspected by a pest control company after repairing the cause of the sag.
Learning How to Fix Sagging Gutters Is a Useful Skill, But It’s Not Always Practical
Most homeowners aren’t roofers and gutter experts. Still, sagging gutters indicate a drainage problem that needs immediate correction.
Sagging gutters cause overflows, which can cause ground erosion, water damage, and pest infestation. Regular inspection and repairs can help avoid most sagging gutter problems, but not all are DIY-friendly.
All Star Home has the knowledge, tools, expertise, and skill to repair gutter damage and restore functionality.
Contact us for a free estimate to get your gutters working their best. We have local contractors across the U.S. waiting to be of service to you and your home.