On the 6th Day of Christmas … Repair Sagging Rain Gutters

Christmas gift - patching gutterTo straighten a gutter, you'll need to remove the screws and then remount them with a cordless drill. Image: Donald W. Vetter

If you’d like to play Santa this Christmas but are keeping an eye on your budget, save your cash. Instead, spend some time and energy repairing the house of a family member, friend, or neighbor in need of a helping hand. It’s the true spirit of the holiday!

Repairing sagging and leaky rain gutters isn’t just a summertime job — in fact, it may be vital during winter. Healthy gutters won’t ice up during colder months and lead to ice dams, a major cause of damage to eaves, siding, roofing, and foundations.

Of course, common sense prevails. If it’s snowing, blowing, and freezing, you won’t want to be outside on a ladder. But if you catch a break in the weather, make sure to take care of this important home maintenance job.

  • Plug leaky gutter joints and holes less than ¼-inch across with gutter sealant. A tube of sealant costs about $5 at hardware stores and home improvement centers. Apply the sealant from the inside your gutters.
  • Patch larger holes with pre-made gutter patches. A kit with four 3-by-6-inch patches costs about $5. These self-adhesive patches are easy to apply and can be used on both aluminum and vinyl gutters. They work best if it’s a bit warmer, so wait for a day that’s above 45 degrees.

Straighten up sagging rain gutters

Rain gutters that sag will trap water — and can cause ice dams. To straighten up a sagging gutter, remove and reposition the gutter hangers.

Gutter hangers typically have two parts: Long screws, and metal collars or straps inside the gutter. The screws go through the gutter and the collars, and then into the fascia — the board that covers the rafter ends. The collars add stiffness and prevent the screws from collapsing the gutter when the screws are tightened.

To straighten a gutter, you’ll need a cordless drill so you can remove the screws. Here’s how to get the job done:

1. Get up on a ladder and remove hanger screws near the sag.

2. Sight along the gutter so you can see if it’s straight. Trust your eye here — if it looks straight, it is.

3. Remount the screws. If needed, you can add a new hanger or two for additional support. They cost about $3 each. Simply drill a new hole through the gutter edge for the additional hangers.

Done? You deserve a nice mug of hot cocoa!

Got an idea for helping out a neighbor or family member with home improvement and maintenance chores?