Every person faces that difficult decision from time to time: whether or not to fix something you have already purchased, or buy something completely new to replace it. Do you take your car into the shop again, or just head for the dealership? Do you try to repair your slow, cranky computer, or just go out and get the newest model? Do you call the handyman to fix the washer, dryer, dishwasher, air conditioner, heater, or refrigerator — or just bite the bullet and buy a new unit?
Another “repair or replace” decision comes with your home’s gutters. Is it worth your time and effort to repair them yourself (or have a pro do it)? Or should you call a gutter replacement contractor to have completely new gutters installed on your home?
While every individual case is different, here are some guidelines about how to make the right choice:
You can probably get away with gutter repairs if…
- Any damage is localized on one or two gutter sections. Then you can simply replace those sections instead of tearing out your entire guttering system.
- You only need to fix a few holes or cracks. Small openings can be cleaned with alcohol and covered over with a quality sealant. Larger holes or cracks may require a small piece of metal flashing that can be glued or riveted on before sealing it.
- A single joint or seam is leaking. Making sure that an elbow joint or two guttering sections are securely fastened will likely solve the problem — although you may need some sealant for this task as well.
- A few hangers are loose. Screwing in the hangers (or making a fresh hole in the gutter and/or the fascia) is not difficult if you have a drill. You may need to replace the existing hangers if they are bent.
- You have minor fixes on copper gutters. Because copper is so expensive, you’re usually better off trying to make these repairs yourself before opting for a gutter replacement.
You probably need to replace your gutter if…
- There are lots of little repairs that must be made. If your gutters are riddled with cracks, holes, or rust spots throughout, then your best best is to replace the entire guttering system.
- Your hangers won’t stay screwed in. If you’ve tried once or twice to refasten gutter hangers but they keep slipping, the problem may be with your fascia boards. Gutter replacement contractors can usually repair rotting or deteriorating fascia boards as part of their service.
- Guttering sections won’t stay together. If some gutter sections keep separating despite your best efforts to repair them (or if you have a few gutter separations), then it may be easier to replace your guttering with seamless gutters so that this problem doesn’t happen again.
- If you notice sagging or incorrect pitch. Rarely can this issue be solved with a quick fix. You’ll have more peace of mind if a gutter contractor installs new gutters which are correctly pitched so water flows where it is supposed to.
- You notice water damage. If your gutters are clog-free but you still notice evidence of overflowing runoff water (like deteriorating landscaping or basement flooding), then the problem is likely major enough to require a new guttering system.
- Any damage is caused from denting or buckling. If a tree limb falls onto an aluminum gutter (or a carelessly-leaned ladder results in a big dent), any leaks or overflow problems won’t be solved unless the dented section is replaced. If you have seamless gutters, you’re better off replacing the entire run.