man on ladder cleaning gutters of leaves and debris
Photo: Kristine Larsen
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Gunked-up Gutters

Potential problem: "A clogged, rusted, or tilted gutter can't do its job of keeping water from splashing back on the roof or cascading down the sides of your house," says TOH general contractor Tom Silva. This can lead to fascia and soffit rot, leaks inside the wall cavity, and framing damage.

Fix it now: Make gutter cleaning and repair part of your annual DIY fall maintenance routine. Scoop out debris. Secure any loose hanger straps, and use a level to ensure that gutters are properly slanted toward the downspouts, about ¼ inch for every 5- to 10-foot section. Then run water from a garden hose to check for leaks. Patch any holes or narrow gaps at the seams with gutter sealant; $5 for a 10-ounce tube at hardware stores.

TOH Tip: Don't have a trowel handy? Make a gutter scoop out of a plastic milk jug. Just slice off the bottom at an angle.

What you'll save: Easily $5,000 or more to repair rotted fascia and soffit boards, framing, and drywall. If gutters are left to rust, new seamless aluminum replacements will run you $750 to $1,000 for 150 to 200 linear feet, enough to outfit most homes.

DIY: Get the how-to for repairing damaged gutters.
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