There are several causes for Gutters Leaking At Seams. In this guide we will walk you through every possible gutter seam location, what causes each leak, and the solution to those causes.
The first thing most people think when they see gutters leaking at seams is that the gutter seals have failed and need to be re-sealed. However there is often an underlying issue that caused the water to wear through the seals.
Water destroys everything including the sealants used to seal gutter systems. Even polyurethane based water proof sealants designed specifically for gutter systems will eventually leak over time. Under normal wear and tear gutter seals are typically expected to last anywhere from 5-20 years. Water collecting in the wrong areas can cause the sealants to fail at a much more rapid pace then normally.
There are only a few locations on the gutter system that have seams. Most modern day gutter systems feature “Seamless Gutters” which means gutters that are made without seams. However to thoroughly explain the subject we will include any where gutter parts form seams.
As we mentioned earlier, all gutter sealants eventually fail. Gutter Miters (aka corner sections) are especially prone to leaking because two separate pieces of gutter are joined by using sealant. Anywhere there is a box style miter, like in the photo above, there are 4 seams inside the box miter that need to be sealed.
The number one cause of miters to leak is from the gutter pitch being incorrect. Gutters and miters must be pitched (or sloped) so that the water automatically drains to the downspouts. Thus, incorrectly sloped gutters cause the water to collect in the wrong areas. Unfortunately corners are one of the areas water likes to hang out.
The solution to incorrectly pitched gutter sections and/or miter sections is to have the gutter and miter re-pitched. Since the miter was leaking it will need to be re-sealed as well, as the seals may become worse after the gutters are adjusted.
Different gutter companies may have slightly different names for their gutter re-pitching service. On our estimates and job tickets the service is named : Re-Pitch 5″ Gutter System or Re-Pitch 6″ Gutter System. Our price ranges from $4-$6 per linear ft. for gutter re-pitching services.
2. GUTTERS LEAKING FROM END CAP SEAMS
End Caps are installed to the ends of straight gutters to enclose the system and prevent water from spilling from the end of the gutter. The good news about end cap seals is that not nearly as much water contacts end caps as miters. In fact, 50% of gutter end caps are safe because they are on the high ends of gutters. Meaning due to the slope the water is pointed away from end cap on the high end. In addition the other end cap is normally protected by a downspout that is close by.
Since end caps are typically not a high traffic area for water it is more rare to see them leak. However there are only two causes and they are easy to tell the difference from one another.
The most common cause of water to leak through gutter end caps is when there is a downspout clog nearby. Anytime you see an end cap leak within a couple feet of a downspout, it is a direct indication that the downspout is clogged. In the photo above you see a perfect example of this.
Just as with miter leaks, end cap leaks can be a sign of gutter pitch issues. If water is leaking from a gutter end cap and there is no downspout close by then more than likely the gutter is tilted in the wrong direction. After all, how else could the water be going the way it’s not supposed to?
The solution to Clogged Downspouts or any clogs in the gutter system is to have the gutters cleaned. Companies may call this service by different names. We officially call this “Gutter Cleaning Service” on our job tickets. Lastly, for more information visit our Gutter Cleaning Service page.
The place where the downspout connects to the bottom of the gutter is called the Gutter Outlet. All water in the gutter system must drain through the gutter outlets to get to the downspouts. When water leaks from this area it may even look like the water is falling from the bottom of the gutter close by.
There is only thing that causes water to leak from the gutter outlet area, and that is also downspout clogs. When the water can not drain through the downspouts it will leak from any where it can find an opening. Leaking from the gutter outlet could indicate the clog is higher in the downspout.
As previously mentioned, the only solution to clogged downspouts is to remove the debris from the downspout. You could do this manually or hire a local gutter company to perform a gutter cleaning service.
Anywhere downspout sections are connected to each other or connected to elbows they form seams. When water drips or leaks from any downspout seams it is a direct indication of downspout clogs. Just as with leaking from gutter outlets, water leaking from downspout seams is only caused from clogged downspouts. (or clogged underground drains) The solution to this is also to remove the debris from the downspouts by way of a Gutter Cleaning Service.
Check out the short clip below of a classic example of a clogged downspout leaking at the seams.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, most modern gutter systems are installed using seamless gutters that are made to fit the home. But some homes still have sectioned gutters that are joined by seams. When two straight gutter sections are joined together by overlapping one another and sealing with caulk, this is called a gutter seam or seamed gutters. Furthermore, gutter Seams are not recommended because they are very prone to leaking. Thus, even if the gutters are pitched correctly the seams are still high traffic areas for water, as most of the water has to pass over.
In order for seamed gutters to work properly they need to be pitched perfectly. A common problem with seamed gutters is they tend to dip where the two sections meet. Anywhere there is a dip water will collect. Therefore a slight dip in seamed gutters causes water to collect at the seals which rapidly degrades them.
When seamed gutters are leaking at seams the solution is to re-pitch the section, and then re-seal all seams. Furthermore, configuring the pitch on seamed gutters takes much longer than with normal gutters because you have to re-adjust, then double check behind you, then adjust the next section, then double check behind you and re-adjust, etc… Therefore we only will accept this type of repair on a case by case basis. Check out our Gutter Repair page for more information.
Re-placing seamed gutters with seamless gutters is the only true solution to leaking gutter seams . It is the only practical solution because seamed gutter seals will leak again and again. For more information please visit our Gutter Installation page.
Evidently downspout clogs or pitch issues are the most common causes of gutters to leak at seams. Once the location of the leak is identified you should be able to determine if it is pitch or clog related.
MY GUTTER DOCTOR
93 Monocacy Blvd. A-6
Frederick, MD 21701