Updated On

May 18, 2023

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    Properly functioning gutters are critical because they direct water safely away from your home’s exterior, roof, and foundation. Without this rainwater management system, your home’s foundation could suffer severe water damage, and roofing materials can begin to deteriorate.

    If you don’t know what to look for when assessing the health of your home’s gutters, don’t panic. We’ve compiled a list of five telltale signs your gutters have reached the end of their life span. Each issue is detectable to the eye, so you should have no trouble finding the root of the problem to decide if it’s time for a gutter replacement.

    Signs It’s Time For a Gutter Replacement

    Before jumping into common gutter issues, it’s important to note the average life span of residential gutter systems. Properly maintained systems typically last around 25 years, depending on their design and installation method. Some gutters, such as those made of copper, can last over 50 years.

    If your gutters are getting old, you should consider replacing them to avoid future issues. However, even newer gutters might need replacement – especially if they have frequent repair needs.

    Many homeowners don’t know the warning signs of malfunctioning gutters, therefore allowing gutter problems to persist and worsen over time. Luckily, several signs indicate whether your gutters need simple repairs or full-on replacements. We’ll discuss these warning signs and beyond in the following sections.


    As your home’s primary rainwater drainage system, the gutters should transport water without a drop to spare. Cracks in the gutters thwart this process, causing water to drip down your home’s siding and straight onto the landscape.

    A few small cracks here and there is a relatively minor issue you can solve with a gutter seam sealant like this one from Amazon. However, you should know that small cracks often grow as water leaks or debris puts them under pressure. If you notice multiple cracks or a large fracture in your gutter’s troughs or downspouts, it’s likely time for a replacement.

    Sagging Troughs and Broken Seams

    Troughs are the main gutter components that run along the roofline and channel water to the downspouts. These sections should always be parallel to the ground, without any sagging or bulging areas.

    Sagging gutters aren’t just an eyesore – they also threaten your home. As a trough sags under the weight of water and debris, it puts pressure on the fascia board and the roof supporting it. If the gutters eventually detach from the home, they’ll likely pull these materials down with them.

    You can often solve minor sagging problems by replacing or tightening the gutter fasteners throughout the system. Fasteners are the hangers that attach the troughs and downspouts to the home. They loosen or break naturally over time, but repeated repair needs may point to a support issue with the gutters. Likewise, broken seams and repeatedly failing fasteners may indicate a malfunctioning gutter system and signal the need for a replacement.

    Peeling Paint and Rust Spots

    Peeling paint and rust spots around your gutters could be a sign of moisture damage. These blemishes often develop in old gutter systems due to normal wear and tear, but development in new gutters points to a problem. It likely means your gutters aren’t disposing of collected water properly or quickly enough, causing excess moisture buildup in and around the troughs.

    Gutters are designed to transport water regularly, so they’re extremely durable against moisture damage. If moisture lingers long enough to cause visible damage to the system, it’s probably time for a replacement. You may want to replace the rusty, crumbling system regardless to improve your home’s appearance and curb appeal.

    Pooling Water

    A gutter system’s primary function is to prevent water from pooling around your home’s foundation. If your gutters are failing to stop water from collecting, they’re due for a replacement. Pools of water around the base of your home likely indicate the gutters are clogged or leaking. Clogs cause water to dump out over the edges of the troughs and straight down the side of your home.

    Check your gutter system for blockages if you notice puddles of standing water around your house. If you don’t find any clogs in the troughs or downspouts, have a gutter expert inspect the system for structural issues and install replacements where necessary.

    Water Damage

    Water damage often manifests as discoloration around your gutter system’s gutters, fascia, soffits, and downspouts. If you find water marks in the form of dark blotches or mildew growth on your home’s exterior, you need to replace your gutters.

    Water spots likely indicate that the gutters are leaking into your home’s siding, damaging the wood, drywall, and frame. Worse yet, interior water damage can lead to mold growth, a serious health threat to anyone living in the home.

    Moisture accumulating behind the gutter system can also cause roof and attic damage. It will eventually work its way into the roofing materials and wood sheeting, causing leaks and harming the inside of your home. This damage may also warrant a roof replacement, which can cost well over $10,000.

    Gutter Maintenance Quick Tips

    Maintaining your gutter system and ensuring its functionality is crucial to your home’s wellbeing. Critical gutter problems can lead to severe foundation and roofing damage, threatening both your safety and your budget.

    The list below shares tips and tricks to keep your gutters in top shape throughout the year. These routine maintenance tasks will prolong the life of your gutter system and prevent detrimental issues that require costly replacements.

    • Install gutter guards to keep debris from building up.
    • Consider installing heated gutters to prevent ice dams from developing in the winter.
    • Clean your gutters throughout the year, paying extra attention to them in fall when leaves and debris are more likely to cause clogs.
    • Choose seamless gutters for your next replacement project; this gutter design decreases the risk of seams breaking or sagging.

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    Final Thoughts

    Gutter replacements are costly yet necessary projects that protect your home from long-term damage. If you don’t know a lot about soffits, fascia boards, and downspouts, don’t worry. The industry is overflowing with gutter installation experts ready to help you get the job done right. The extra cost of professional installation is a solid investment toward a long-lasting, properly functioning gutter system.

    Editorial Contributors
    Elisabeth Beauchamp

    Elisabeth Beauchamp

    Senior Staff Writer

    Elisabeth Beauchamp is a content producer for Today’s Homeowner’s Lawn and Windows categories. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with degrees in Journalism and Linguistics. When Elisabeth isn’t writing about flowers, foliage, and fertilizer, she’s researching landscaping trends and current events in the agricultural space. Elisabeth aims to educate and equip readers with the tools they need to create a home they love.

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    Lora Novak

    Senior Editor

    Lora Novak meticulously proofreads and edits all commercial content for Today’s Homeowner to guarantee that it contains the most up-to-date information. Lora brings over 12 years of writing, editing, and digital marketing expertise. She’s worked on thousands of articles related to heating, air conditioning, ventilation, roofing, plumbing, lawn/garden, pest control, insurance, and other general homeownership topics.

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