TLC for Gutters
Stopping your gutter from overflowing
I have a gutter that spills over whenever it rains. What can I do to stop it?
—Nancy Cubelli, Unionville, Conn.
Tom Silva replies: Gutters overflow for three reasons: because they're clogged, sloped improperly, or sagging. Or it could be some combination of all three.
Clogged gutters and downspouts are the most common cause of spillovers, so start by scooping out any debris and flushing out the downspouts with a hose. If a downspout won't clear, ream it out with a coat hanger wire or remove the elbow to dislodge debris.
Next, check the gutter's slope by pouring water into it. If the water doesn't flow smoothly toward the downspout, the gutter will have to be removed and rehung so it slopes at least 1/16 inch for every foot of length.
Now if the water accumulates in one spot, it means the gutter is sagging, and its supports will need to be adjusted or beefed up. For gutters that are nailed onto the fascia, replace the nails in the vicinity of the sag with gutter screws, which won't pull out. For gutters that are held in place by straps or brackets, bend or reposition these supports until the sag is gone. You can see if the sag is gone by climbing a ladder and sighting down the gutter's length. Or you can pour more water in the gutter and watch what happens.