Roofing and Guttering: How to discover and repair common gutter problems

Rusted or poorly installed gutters are common problems for the home buyer. In some suburbs, Archicentre found that half of the homes inspected needed repairs or replacement.

Signs your gutters are damaged:
• Bubbling paint or rust on the underside of the gutters
• Stains on the underside of eaves, and
• Presence of rust in general.

How to know if your gutter problem is minor or major

If the problem is minor, small holes in gutters may be patched by appropriate tapes or silicone sealants from hardware stores.

Major guttering faults are indicated by stains around windows, sometimes down the walls and even on the ceilings. Such leaks are most likely to be caused by gutter overflow.

Why do gutters overflow?

Gutters overflow for a number of reasons:
• They may be clogged with debris, or
• The slope (fall) towards the downpipe may be insufficient, or
• Downpipes and drains may be blocked, or
• An overloaded roof drainage system
• Installation faults.
• Rusted valley gutter or box gutter.

How to discover a gutter overflow problem

1. Climb a ladder and carefully lift one of the roof tiles.
2. Look inside the eaves. You’ll see if leaks have occurred and if any timber-rot problems exist as a result.
3. It is a good idea to also check the inside of gutters. Scrape away the dirt and look for signs of ponds or pools of water developing, this could indicate that the gutters flow the wrong way.

Repairing an overloaded roof drainage system

The roof drainage system being overloaded is when water can’t drain away fast enough after a downpour and a large volume of water gathers. This occurs most often in older houses, or after an extension has been added to the house, increasing the roof size and thus the total water run-off.

More drainpipes need to be installed to address this.

Repairing installation faults

Overflow faults are worsened when the outside edge of the gutter or spouting is higher than the inside edge, a common installation fault. In these cases, the backlogged water can flow over the top of the inside edge of the gutter and into the adjacent eaves’ lining or ceiling space.

Problem installations of this kind can often be remedied by loosening the gutter brackets so that the outside edge of the gutter becomes lower than the inside edge. Alternatively, overflow outlets could be drilled into the gutter, below the danger level.

Repairing a rusted valley gutter or box gutter

Additional guttering problems may occur in a house with a party wall such as townhouses and semis. A rusting valley gutter or box gutter is a serious problem in this case, as the water will run straight into the ceiling.

The rusted sections should be replaced and the flashing removed from the mortar between the bricks. The replacement flashing must be installed correctly so that it sheds water safely.

If none of the above methods of repair work, you’ll need to replace your gutters and ensure you are maintaining them correctly. Read our factsheet to find out more.

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