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How to Repair Gutters

In this DIY Smarts project, Tom Silva helps a homeowner solve a problem with leaky gutters over their patio.

General contractor Tom Silva heads out on another house call. A homeowner’s gutters have been leaking on their patio, and Tom immediately sees the issues: poor sealing, the wrong installation height, and an improper pitch. With help from the homeowner, Tom removes the existing gutters and gets to work.

Assess the Issue

Before repairing the gutters, it’s important to determine where and why they are failing. Cleaning gutters may often allow them to flow more readily, meaning a quick bead of caulk will prevent leaks. However, gutters that are pitched backward or crowned or those that are installed too high won’t allow proper water flow.

How to Install Gutters

Gutters should be installed along the eaves of a home, with one end of the gutter pitched lower than the other. The proper slope for a gutter is ¼-inch of slope for 4 feet of run. So, for a 16-foot-long section of gutter, the downspout end should be 1 inch lower than the other end.

Also, it’s important to install gutters at the correct height. If the installer places a straight edge, such as a level on the roof’s surface, so that it overhangs the edge of the roof, the front edge of the gutter should touch the bottom of the straight edge.

How to Repair Leaky Gutters

  1. Remove the existing gutters. With help, carefully climb a ladder and remove the individual gutter brackets. In most cases, this can be done with a drill driver and a ¼ or 5/16 hex head attachment. Remove the downspout assembly as well.
  2. Once removed from the fascia, lay the gutter down on sawhorses or a work bench. Disassemble the gutter assembly by removing screws or drilling out rivets. Remove each piece and scrape any old caulk and gunk from the gutter pieces before washing them with a hose.
  3. Place the ladder underneath the fascia where the gutter’s high end will sit. Use a straight edge to decide the proper height of the gutter and mark the fascia. Make additional marks at 4-foot increments ¼-inch lower than the others until you reach the downspout side.
  4. Stretch a chalk line from the high mark to the mark at the downspout side and snap the line. Use a level to ensure that this mark has a ¼-inch slope along its entirely to ensure proper flow.
  5. Use the caulking gun to squeeze a thick bead of silicone caulk inside any couplings that join lengths of the gutter. Assemble the joint and drill and rivet the pieces together. Squeeze another bead of caulk on the inside of the gutter couplings and smooth it over the edges of the gutters to prevent water from getting underneath.
  6. Inspect the downspout and make any repairs necessary. If required, purchase a new elbow that will allow the downspout to sit against the home. Drill and rivet mounting brackets to the downspout.
  7. Place new brackets every 16 inches so they align with the rafter tails. This may require climbing a ladder and inspecting for nails driven through the fascia and into the rafters. Measure and transfer those marks to the gutter.
  8. With help, lift the gutter assembly back into place. Aligning the gutter’s back edge with the chalk line, drive the bracket screws through the fascia and into the rafter tails. The screws should be snug but not so tight that they deform the gutters. Check the slope with the level.
  9. Reattach the downspout and secure it to the home.


Tom repairs a homeowner’s seamless gutters that are pitched over their backyard deck.

Tom uses a straight edge to determine if the gutters are hung too high. To remove the gutters, Tom uses a Dewalt compact drill to unscrew the gutter brackets. To rehang the gutter, Tom marks the gutter with a chalk line, then drives one 1-¼” pan-head aluminum screw to hold the gutter in position. To reinstall the gutters, Tom installs 5” gutter brackets inside the gutters through the fascia board and into a rafter tail. To fasten the 2x3 downspout B-elbows to the downspout, Tom uses 1-¼” aluminum pan-head screws. Then he screws an aluminum strap near the upper and lower ends of the downspout. To seal the corner joint, Tom uses 85148 Seamer Mate gutter sealant. To install the drip edge, Tom uses 1-½” galvanized roofing nails and nails them in every 16”.

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