Proper Gutter Installation vs. Improper Gutter Installation & How to Tell the Difference


If you care about the maintenance of your home, it’s important to put your mind in the gutter quite literally! While your home’s gutters may be out of sight and out of mind most of the time, failure to clean and care for them can have a devastating impact on what is likely the biggest investment you’ll ever make in your lifetime.

Gutters work by catching the rain run-off and draining it away from your home-sweet-home. Whether you have a farm house, sprawling mansion, townhome or heritage house, your gutters are there to protect your abode from unwanted leaks, a ruined wall or foundation caused by moistureeven mold.

You may think your gutters are working just fine; however, they could actually be working against you if they aren’t installed properly. While you are out there cleaning your gutters this spring – yes, that’s a job that should be done once a year at minimum to protect your home – take the time to do an inspection to see if they are in tip-top working condition.

A good gutter installation is the result of good materials applied with best practices. Unfortunately, as with any construction job, that’s not always the case. There are many warning signs that can help you determine whether your gutters are functioning properly by protecting your home from moisture and water damage.

Here are five ways you can tell the difference between proper gutter installations vs. improper gutter installation.

1. Are They Aligned Correctly?

To function properly and protect your home from moisture damage, your rain gutters must be firmly attached to the fascia and run the entire length of your roof, ending in a downspout. In the case where your gutters extend 40 feet, ensure the gutter is positioned to pitch down from the middle, aimed toward a downspout at each end.

2. Are Your Gutters Overflowing?

While overflowing, clogged gutters could be a telltale sign they are in dire need of a good cleanup, it could also indicate an even bigger problem – loose/sloping gutters. Leaves, twigs, rain water, branches and sediment can build up over time and cause your gutters to droop and leak. Droopy gutters are ineffective at keeping water away from the direction of your home, which can result in mold, rotting wood, leaking and even termite infestation. Clogged gutters are also a sign that your gutters weren’t installed properly in the first place. If there were never installed at the proper slope, water and debris will get trapped and clog your gutter.

3. Is There a Drain or Splash Block?

Without a drain or splash block to safely carry the water way from your home, water can easily find its way into and under your home’s foundation. As a result, you’re left with excess water in your basement or crawl space, mold, mildew, foundation settlement and dry rot.

4. Check the Hole Connecting to the Gutter to the Downspout –

In some cases, the hole that connects the gutter to the downspout hasn’t been cut large enough by whoever installed it in the first place. Unfortunately, this small error can leave you with a big problem as sediment, leaves and debris will have a tough time making their way through the downspout.

5. Cheap Materials –

To save money, there are some gutter companies out there that cut costs and corners by using minimal pipe and undersized plastic outlets. Traditionally, seamless gutters (or Eaves troughs some call them) are aluminum.

If you notice any of the aforementioned 5 problems with your gutters, you’ll want to take action as soon as possible to get them back in working order. Remember that warranty you purchased when your gutters were installed? Now’s the time to utilize it before it’s too late. Just be warned, quite often the replacement of gutters can also lead to the replacement of rotten or damaged fascia boards on your home. However, the longer you leave it, the more damage you’ll end up having to deal with.

Don’t panic just yet. At the very least, you may just have a small repair job on your hands. Sometimes all it takes is a re-attachment of a loose downpipe, a re-sealed leaking corner or replace a section or two of damaged gutter instead of the entire system. A properly installed gutter system should last you as long as 30 years if it is maintained regularly. If you are unsure as to whether your gutter system is working properly or if it’s in need of some TLC, call a reputable gutter installation company and ask for an inspection to help put your mind at ease. Most are happy to provide a free estimate.

You may even want to enquire about a leaf guard gutter screening to keep your system continually clean and flowing properly.

Kristyl Clark