Roof gutters are designed to collect rainwater from roofing systems and divert water away from the building to prevent water damage to the building structure. When roof gutters fail, water can interact with the building structure and causing staining, rot, mold, and leaks into the building interior. The point of failure (“the leak”) is nearly always at the point of the seaming the gutter. To prevent this from happening, it is important to understand how gutters are constructed, areas that can fail, and best practices to repair them.
How to Repair Gutters
Gutters are commonly constructed of multiple components that often need to span long lengths, wrap corners and follow complex roof lines. Anywhere these components are joined together, there is a seam that requires a sealant. A gutter material may be made of metal, plastic, wood, or concrete. Typically, new gutters will be watertight, but as they experience movement, thermal cycling, and are exposed to loads (such as snow, rain, debris or other material) the sealants can fail.
Metal (aluminum, copper, stainless, etc) and plastic gutters can be easily sealed with a high-quality sealant tape intended for outdoor exposure and ponding water applications such as 4EvaSeal Multipurpose Tape.
The sealant tape should be used on seams which have failed to stop the leakage from occurring. Prior to installing these materials, follow these instructions:
- Gutters must be clean of all organic matter, dirt and standing water. To maximize adhesion of the tape, the surface should be wiped clean with a solvent such as acetone. The surface should be completely free of moisture, dirt, staining, etc.
- Install the sealant tape centered on the seam and firmly press into place. Use a roller to fully press the tape in place, where possible. When installing tapes in cold temperature below 40F., it is recommended to heat the surface with a heat gun or hair dryer to improve adhesion of the tape such that it remains soft and tacky.
- Heat may be applied to the surface first, or to the tape after it is installed in place. Care should be taken when using heat guns as excess heat can melt plastic gutters and repair tapes.
For More Complex Repairs
Wooden and concrete gutter repairs are typically more complex. As with metal and plastic gutters, the interiors need to be cleaned and should be dry and dirt free before any repairs are made. Repairs to wooden and concrete gutters require a liquid applied waterproofing material such as a durable urethane coating (see CIM 1000 Trowel Grade Coating). Seams can be reinforced with 4EvaSeal Fabric Backed Tape or a reinforcing fabric. Detailed instruction on using these should be obtained from the manufacturer.
Tapes reinforcing fabrics used at seams MUST lay flat against the surface. If wrinkles or “fish mouths” are present, they will present pathways for water to escape from the gutter. It is important to test an area for adhesion in order to confirm that the surface has been cleaned properly. Tapes should not easily peel clean from the surface. Ideally, the adhesive on the tape should pull apart with some adhesive remaining on the substrate with some adhesion still attached to the tape backing. If the tape is easily removed the surface, the surface was not sufficiently cleaned.
How To Check If The Tape Was Properly Applied?
After the repairs have been made, run water over the repaired section using bottled water or a garden hose to check for leaks. If leaks are found on a repaired area, inspect to determine where the water is getting through so it can be corrected. If needed, additional tape can be applied over initial tape application and if it is well bonded, will not deteriorate or otherwise affect the initial application.
After repairs are completed, it is good practice to regularly inspect and clean gutter systems. The goal is to keep them free of debris such that water can freely flow to downspouts. If water collects in gutters the chances for premature failure increases, especially in northern climates where water can freeze and ice can cause further damage to gutters.
For additional information on gutter cleaning and repair, or product recommendations contact us…..