How to Improve Your Home Gutters System

A woman installs gutters.

If you have problems with clogged gutters and overflow, it's probably not necessary to replace your gutters. There are many things you can do to improve your gutter drainage without having to take the old ones down and put new ones up. Some things don't involve your gutters at all, but things surrounding your home that can interfere with gutter flow.

Check for Obstacles

If your gutters aren't working properly, it's probably because they're clogged. Leaves are one of the most common gutter problems. Look at the trees near your home and make sure that branches aren't hanging down to touch gutters. Not only does this deposit lots of leaves throughout the growing season and the fall which can prevent proper water flow, but the weight of a branch or the movement in the wind can loosen gutters or knock them off completely. Not to mention the damage a low-hanging branch can do to your roof. Trim back low hanging branches to prevent this.

Prevent Leaf Clogs

If you do have a tree or trees that are depositing leaves into your gutters, and you've removed any low-hanging branches, you probably don't want to carve back your tree so far that nothing extends over the roof. You might opt to do this, depending on your situation. But if you want to keep your tree intact, then keep leaves out of your gutters by installing gutter guards.

The most affordable barrier is a gutter screen. A homeowner can install these without any special gutter expertise by following the directions. Other gutter barriers may be solid and intended to channel water into the gutter while preventing everything else including sediment and smaller debris that would fit through a grate from getting into the gutter. Solid systems can run up to $20 a foot, but may be worth it if you have constant problems.

Prevent Ice Dams

Gutters can't prevent the ice dams that form from poorly ventilated attics. When the insulation in the attic doesn’t reach to the edge and the attic isn't well-ventilated enough to allow humidity to escape, it can cause condensation on the inside of the roof. The humid air can then melt the snow on the roof and cause it to run down where it can again freeze at the end where the roof stays colder because of poor insulation. This blocks snow and ice from running off the roof as it's stopped at the ice dam.

But ice dam problems caused by gutters filled with snow and ice can be stopped by installing gutter covers specifically designed to keep them out. When gutters fill with snow and ice, the fascia boards can absorb the moisture and start to rot. If the gutters are covered, this type of damage can be prevented.

Keep Gutters Clear

Even if you have a gutter grate that prevents large twigs and leaves from getting in your gutters, smaller items can stop the water flow, too. Clean your gutters at least twice a year to improve drainage and prevent problems.