Gutters are our primary defense against flooding and water issues. These devices channel rainwater away from our homes, directing it into appropriate areas so it won’t cause harm.
That said, a malfunctioning gutter can cause several problems to your house. It can damage your roof, walls, and landscaping, even erode your home’s foundation.
In this post, we’ll walk you through the top reasons why gutters are overflowing. We’ll also guide you through identifying gutter issues and the best ways to fix these gutter problems.
A properly functioning gutter is essential to the integrity of any building. And any homeowner wouldn’t want to experience the pesky aftermath of leaking, clogged, or overflowing gutters.
Numerous reasons can cause gutters to fill up and overflow. It could be that your channels are too narrow, clogged by debris, damaged, or too much water is flowing through them.
Clogged channels are one of the most common reasons for gutters to overflow. It’s normal for roofs to collect debris over the years, and these materials usually accumulate in the channels.
The wind can carry leaves or twigs to your roof if you live in an area with trees. The more trees around your neighborhood, the easier for debris to collect and clog your gutters.
If you notice less water flowing out your downspout, you’re likely dealing with a clogged channel. Plants and mold may also start growing in your gutter in severe cases of clogging.
In addition, the changing season can double this problem. During winter, the freezing temperatures and snow can increase the likelihood of a blocked gutter system.
You’ll experience the same inconveniences during the fall. It’s a nightmare for homeowners when trees start shedding leaves and twigs, coupled with strong winds and rain.
Of course, the quickest way to fix a blocked gutter is to clean it. Using ladders and gloves, you can manually scoop the debris clogging your water channels and drop them on the ground.
To prevent littering the debris around your house, you may use buckets or trash bags to collect them. You can also use a hand shovel to scoop hardened chunks of materials.
Depending on the tree coverage of your house, you may need to clean your gutter multiple times every year. So, try to squeeze gutter cleaning into your schedule as much as possible.
Aside from clogging, a narrow gutter channel may also lead rainwater to overflow. If the size of your gutter channels can’t accommodate the volume of water, they may start overflowing.
Remember that your gutter channels should match the size of your house. Larger houses with broader roof surfaces will need wider gutters to receive the amount of water runoff.
Small to medium-sized houses, however, won’t necessarily need the widest gutters. Although, the case still depends on the dimensions of your roof, such as steepness and orientation.
You may have installed the wrong gutter size if you notice pooling and overflowing despite light rains. Plus, this issue will only worsen during the rainy season.
Moreover, because of the lesser capacity of a narrow channel, it won’t hold up for long under the constant water weight. So, you may see some sagging on your gutter system as well.
If you suspect you have the wrong gutter size, you may need to change it. Only this time, you should learn to choose the correct channel dimensions for your roof.
Fortunately, there’s an easy way to calculate the gutter requirements for your house. You simply need to measure your roof’s square footage and multiply it by its pitch.
A standard 5-inch-wide gutter should do the trick for small to average-sized houses with regular pitch height. Otherwise, you should opt for a wider six or seven inches gutter channel.
Gutters are typically lined up and placed at specific angles during installation. We call this orientation “gutter pitch,” and it helps the water flow smoothly around the channel.
Your gutter’s pitch should also align with the location of your downspouts. Since water can’t flow upwards, you should ensure to orient your channels tilting towards the downspout holes.
Sometimes, homeowners install their downspouts at odd locations. As such, the water may need to run a few turns and corners before reaching the exit.
Nevertheless, it shouldn’t cause issues long as you’ve installed your channels titled in the right direction. Incorrect pitching, however, will cause water to collect in several spots and overflow.
So, if there’s no debris clogging the channel, and you’ve calculated your gutter size perfectly for your roofing, your gutter pitching might be causing the problem.
Although you’ve installed your gutter with the correct pitching, it can bend and move over time. In such cases, you’d need to repitch the channel and reorient it in the right direction.
If your gutter has been tilted in the wrong direction for a long time, you may see some damage on its end cap. So, it’s best to replace or reseal the end cap when repitching your water channel.
That said, reorienting your gutter system is an opportunity to examine your downspout placements. You can move or install new downspouts for the best results.
Like clogged gutters, a blocked downspout will also result in water overflow. Although, this problem might be harder to spot if you buried your downspouts.
The same debris that can block your gutters can clog your downspouts. Leaves, twigs, animal droppings, and coarse materials can accumulate inside these pipes.
A clogged downspout will have the same effect as a blocked channel. The runoff will collect, particularly around the clogged downspout and overflow.
One telltale sign of a malfunctioning downspout is leaking. As liquid gathers inside the pipe without an exit, it’ll eventually leak into the downspout’s joints, seams, and elbows.
If your downspouts aren’t buried, you’ll probably notice that their openings aren’t releasing much water. If you observe these issues on your gutter system, it’s best to repair them immediately.
To fix a jammed downspout, remove the hardened debris blocking the water path. Depending on its severity, you may need to bring it down to disassemble and clean it.
The most blockage will happen on the pipe’s elbows and joints, so focus on these spots when cleaning your downspout. It’s also best to replace parts with cracks or damages.
An excellent method to prevent downspout clogging from happening is to install filters in your gutter. There are designs available made for blocking small debris from entering a downspout.
Apart from the size and orientation of the gutter, you also need to consider the number of downspouts available. If you have less downspout than what your roof requires, it will lead to water overflowing.
In a heavy downpour, fewer drop outlets will cause traffic on the runoff flow. As such, the water is more likely to stagnate and spill over, regardless of your gutter size.
Moreover, the amount of rainfall will double or triple during hurricane season. You may get away with it in the sunny months, but you’ll likely experience issues when constant rainstorms hit.
The more downspouts you install, the more rainwater will flow smoothly in the gutter and away from your house. It’ll accommodate larger volumes of water and is less likely to spill over.
One trick is to observe where runoff tends to stagnate and place drainage on that spot. Still, it’s best to calculate the number of downspouts needed for your gutter system.
However, as a general rule, you should place one drop outlet every 20 feet of the gutter channel. Ideally, you’d want downspouts on every corner and roof intersection of your house.
Runoff on roof intersections is notoriously challenging to manage, as valleys gather more water. For this reason, using a larger downspout pipe may be the best course of action.
A faulty gutter system poses numerous problems that could compromise the structural integrity of your home. If you plan on selling, these conditions can decrease your house’s value.
The excess water from your gutter will eventually pool and seep into your home’s foundation. These damp conditions will encourage the growth of molds and mildew.
The growth of these fungi is a symptom of a degrading building. It’ll lead to higher maintenance and repair costs and expose your family to several health issues.
As cliche as it sounds, prevention is still better than cure. Investing time and resources to avoid gutter overflow is worth it if it saves your house from damage.
The first thing we recommend is to invest in gutter guards. These are protective filters or covers preventing debris from entering and clogging your gutter system.
It’s a long-term solution that’ll save you time and money in the long run. Although, it’s worth noting that gutter guards aren’t foolproof, and you still need to unclog your gutter occasionally.
Still, regular maintenance and cleaning should do the trick. And cleaning your water channel is an excellent opportunity to check for damages that may cause leaks.
A functional gutter system is an essential component of every building. It protects it from water damage that may deteriorate vital pieces of your house.
Leaking, clogged, or overflowing gutters are issues you should address immediately. While you can’t prevent rain from falling, you can avoid the problems it causes by learning and investing in preventive measures.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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