Gutter Repair or Gutter Replacement?
Which Is Better?
It can be a tricky question: repair or replace? Nowhere is it trickier than with a gutter, where a repair can mean risking your neck on a ladder, while a replacement can mean you're out hundreds, even thousands, depending on the situation. Here are a few common gutter problems, and what you should do to fix them.
Sagging gutters are a serious problem: they let water collect and tug on the whole gutter system, pulling it down and giving mosquitos and other pests a great place to breed. It's usually due to the hangers holding up the gutters: either those hangers are starting to give way, or there aren't enough of them in the first place.
Solution: Repair. There's no need to rip out your entire gutter system because of a few bolts. Add a few hangers, and fix the ones that are letting the side down.
No weld holds forever, especially when it's constantly being soaked with water. Sooner or later, your gutters will have welds that give way.
Solution: Repair. Even the worst gutter seam can be repaired with a welding torch, and much more easily than tearing down the gutters and starting over again. Just be sure to bring some solder or a metal patch with you, depending on the severity of the break.
Rust or Dings
Not all gutter materials will rust, but with some, such as galvanized steel, it's inevitable. Even if they don't rust, they will inevitably take a beating: vinyl gutters decay in UV light, and any metal gutter inevitably takes a beating thanks to rain and wind.
Solution: Repair. If you keep an eye out for rust and catch the small spots, they're easy to take care of. Wait until the rust spreads to the entire system, and it's a lot more work. For dings and the like, tapping them out with a small hammer (yes, just like a door ding) can do wonders; although dings aren't urgent, it's good to remove them if you've got the time.
Blown Down by Wind
Even the most securely hung gutter can only take so much abuse from Mother Nature. This is especially common in hurricane states, but heavy downpours can break a system as well.
Solution: Replace, most likely. While some of your gutters may fall with little or no damage, it's a lot more likely they'll either be twisted by the wind or damaged by the fall. Either way, they probably can't be salvaged, so replacement is pretty much your only option.
As far as gutters go, this is every homeowner's worst nightmare: holes in the gutters, dumping all that water straight to your foundation.
Solution: Replace, and pronto. Holes are incredibly nasty. Every time it rains, that water is going into the soil instead of your drainage area, and that can cost you thousands of dollars in ruined appliances, siding repairs, concrete patching, and foundation repairs. Pay what it costs to get that section removed and replaced. Whatever it runs you, it'll be a whole lot less than if you leave it alone.