Have you ever seen loose nails hanging from gutters? The nails are actually Loose Gutter Spikes and if you can see them sticking out that indicates that the gutters are coming loose. In this article we explain what gutter spikes are, what causes them to come loose, and the solutions to those problems.
The best way to describe a gutter spike is a large nail used to mount gutters to the home. They are essentially a big nail that goes through the gutter and into the fascia board. Most gutter spikes are used in combination with a ferrule that acts as a spacer inside the gutter. Whereas if ferrules aren’t used it is next to impossible to make the gutters look uniform.
Since My Gutter Doctor has serviced thousands of homes, we’ve seen every possible problem with gutter systems over and over. By far the most common issue or problem with gutter systems (besides needing leaves removed) is Loose Gutter Spikes.
Over time nails pull loose from wood. Especially nails that have to support excessive weight. Therefore it is only natural for gutter spikes to come loose over time. When gutters fill with water during heavy rains or clog situations, they become very heavy.
Gutter spikes are common on older gutter systems as they were once the industry standard before the technology progressed. Modern styles of gutter hangers have progressed to featuring a threaded screw. As a result the threaded screw styles of gutter hangers last much longer than anything unthreaded such as gutter spikes.
As we’ve previously mentioned, over time all gutter spikes will eventually come loose. This is because gutter spikes are a big nail and the holes eventually wear out. However there are a couple instances that cause gutter spikes to come loose at a more rapid pace. If these situations are not dealt with they open the door for more costly damages to happen.
Clogs in the downspouts prevents water from escaping the gutter system. As a result the water fills the gutters until it eventually overflows or leaks. The problem with water filling the gutters is that it is very heavy. In fact water is heavier than all types of gutter debris like leaves, sticks, acorns, and even shingle grit. Therefore gutters filling with water is the number one cause of gutter spikes to come loose.
To prevent gutters from filling up with water and causing excessive strain to your gutter spikes, it is recommended to have the debris/leaves removed from the gutter system once they fill up. Especially in the fall season when the majority of trees drop their leaves. Annual Services that repeat automatically every year are the optimal way to go about scheduling your gutter cleaning services, if you are not able to clean them your self.
Although gutter debris is not as heavy as water, it still constantly strains the gutter spikes because the weight doesn’t go anywhere until cleaned. Leaves and pine needles weigh practically nothing at all when they are dry. However, over time they accumulate more and more and eventually decompose in the gutters if not cleaned. After the debris decomposes it turns to a mulch like material that retains moisture weight for long periods of time.
To prevent excessive gutter debris from piling up in the gutters and adding excessive weight it is recommended to have them cleaned at least once a year. After the majority of the leaves drop in the fall is the optimal time to have them cleaned as they’ll be clear all the way through next fall for most homes. For more information about when to clean gutters click here.
In the photo above you see a gutter that is pulling loose from rotted fascia board. It almost appears as if the board was burnt, but make no mistake that is 100% water damage. This gutter is also filled with shingle grit which is a recipe for disaster. The home owner was lucky this didn’t fall down before we came to fix it.
Gutter spikes (and most other styles of gutter hangers) mount gutters to the fascia boards. Therefore the spikes depend on the fascia boards to be support the weight of the gutter system at all times. When fascia boards become soft or rotted they are no longer able to support the weight of the gutter systems.
Once fascia board rot has begun there is no reversal. Therefore soft or rotten fascia boards need to be replaced and then the gutters rehung. We highly recommend using gutter hangers that feature threaded screws when rehanging the gutters. Do not re-use the gutter spikes at all costs. Visit or Wood Repair page for more information on Fascia Board Replacement.
The good news about gutter spikes is that they can usually be hammered back into place which secures the gutter back to the wall. The bad news is that each time you hammer it back in it comes loose again within weeks or months. Consequently the gutter becomes loose again faster and faster each time the gutter spikes are tapped back in.
If you have gutter spikes that keep coming loose then you need to upgrade to a more modern style of hangers. We use and suggest screw in style hidden hangers because they are the current industry standard aka best available product on the market.
Hidden hangers lock into the front lip of the gutter and then clip to the back of the gutter. This ensures that the gutter system is uniform around the entire home. In the photo below you see a sample gutter with hidden hangers ready to tap in. The screws are not drilled in so that you can see the threads.
Gutter spikes are an outdated way of hanging or mounting gutters. They are sometimes able to be tapped or hammered back into place. However they often come loose again and again. If the gutter spikes continuously get loose in the same areas then it is time to upgrade to a more modern style of threaded screw hangers. CLICK HERE to visit our Gutter Repair page where you can learn more about gutter re-securement.
Allowing the gutters to hang loose allows water to come in direct contact with the fascia board. Therefore the situation will become worse if not dealt with. Once fascia boards are too soft replacement is necessary.
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MY GUTTER DOCTOR
93 Monocacy Blvd. A-6
Frederick, MD 21701