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Samantha Mazzotta: Minor gutter repairs

Posted: December 29, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 29, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Q: Your reply to the homeowner with storm damage to his roof a couple weeks ago was good, but I have a much smaller problem. Cleaning leaves out of my gutters this weekend, I saw leaks underneath the gutters. Leaves also piled up at bends and drains and were hard to clean out. Any suggestions on how to fix the leaks and prevent buildup? — Rick in Pittsburgh

A: Small holes that are less than a half inch in diameter should be patched as quickly as possible so that they don’t get bigger. It’s important to do it correctly so that the patch material doesn’t sit too high and cause a new rough patch for debris to jam up on.

A safety note: Work from a ladder, rather than from the roof, when fixing gutters, and always have a helper to steady the ladder and hand up tools as needed.

If you have metal gutters, buy a small tube of roofing cement and more than enough metal repair patches that are the same type of metal as your gutters. For example, if your gutters are aluminum, buy aluminum patches; if they’re steel, buy steel. For fiberglass gutters, use fiberglass patching material and gutter repair cement or caulk. Using two different metals could cause corrosion between them.

Scrub the area around the spot to be patched with a wire brush. Any rust around the leak should be cut away with metal or aviation snips. Glue the metal patch in place by dabbing roofing cement around the bottom and pressing firmly over the leaky area, then coat the edges of the patch with cement and smooth so the cement feathers out into the gutter area.

If leaks are occurring around the joints, check to make sure the gutter isn’t loose or uneven at the joint. If it is you’ll probably need to adjust the nearest hanger(s) or, if these components are damaged or rusted, replace them. Once the gutters on each side are secure, then pipe roofing cement along the joint and smooth down.

To prevent buildup of leaves and debris in the gutters, consider investing in gutter screens. These are placed over the top of the gutter runs and discourage larger debris from getting in. Gutter guards should be installed along the entire run. Prices vary depending on how much you need and the type or brand you need to buy, and of course, whether you install them yourself or hire a contractor to do it.

HOME TIP: Gutters should be cleaned and inspected twice a year to make sure they’re free of debris and to locate any damage or deterioration.

Send your questions or comments to, or write This Is a Hammer, c/o King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.


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