Guide To Preventing Overflowing Gutters (2024)

Gutters keep your lawn, walls, and foundation from becoming saturated with water. They do this by directing runoff and snowmelt away from your home and further into your lawn. But overflowing gutters can cause problems including pest infestations, mold growth, standing water on your lawn, andextensive water damage.

I’ve compiled this guide, in conjunction with the expert team at Today’s Homeowner, to provide you with an overview of the common reasons that gutters can clog. I’ll also teach you how to avoid these issues through preventative maintenance and regular inspections.

Gutter Cleaning Service

The national average price of gutter cleaning is $160, assuming you have about 200 feet of gutters.


Gutter Guard Installation

In general, the national average cost of gutter guards ranges from $650 to $2,000.


Gutters Installation

In general, it costs somewhere between $1,000 to $7,000 to get a full set of gutters installed on your home.


What Causes Gutters to Overflow?

Gutter overflows occur when a gutter’s outer walls or drip edges can cannot contain the water flow. Overflows can be the result of many common problems. These can range from temporary weather conditions, like an unusually heavy downpour, to structural failures or a simple lack of maintenance.

Before you can effectively fix your gutter drainage system, you’ll need to determine the cause of the overflow. Let’s look at some of the most common reasons that gutters can overflow below.

clogged gutters can create many problems including gutter overflows

Gutter Clogs

The most common cause of overflowing gutters is a general lack of cleaning and maintenance. This results in gutter clogs.

For a gutter system to function optimally, you must clean it thoroughly twice a year, once at the end of spring and again at the end of fall. If you don’t, your gutters will quickly become clogged with leaves, twigs, bird nests, animal refuse, and roof debris. This gunk will eventually clog up the gutter sections and downspouts, making water flow impossible.

Luckily, through regular maintenance — either as a DIY home maintenance project, or through contacting a professional — you can prevent gutter clogs.

Gutter Damage

Damage to a gutter section, such as a hanger, downspout, or connector, can lead to overflows. The overflow’s severity will depend on what part of the gutter is damaged and the extent of the damage. The most common instance of this is when a hanger or spike becomes loose, causing the gutter to sag.

Gutters that are no longer flush with the fascia of your roof sit at an incorrect angle to the roof, resulting in water being unable to enter or flow through properly, causing overflows. If you are facing this problem, you may need to replace the damaged gutter or downspout. Extensive amounts of damage to your gutter drainage system may mean that you will need to replace it entirely.

Incorrect Gutter Installation

If a gutter is not installed correctly, be it by using the incorrect sized parts or installing the parts wrong, it will result in improper water flow. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for most homeowners to identify the specific cause of improperly installed gutters. These minor errors in installation can have major impacts and often require the expert eye of a professional to spot. Common errors which result in overflows can include:

  • Not enough downspouts;
  • Downspouts are the incorrect size;
  • Incorrect pitch;
  • Gutters are installed too far below the roofline;
  • Lack of gutter splash guards or diverters in valleys.

To solve this issue, you need to pay careful attention to how and where your gutters are installed. This way you can direct the flow of rainwater away from your home. I recommend investing in a ground gutter system in addition to having gutters installed around your eaves if downpours are overwhelming your gutter system.

Ice Dams

Overflow due to ice dams is the most serious entry on this list, as it’s typically a symptom of much larger problems. An ice dam is when ice and snow build up along the roofline, creating a blockage and freezing gutters.

As the gutters coat with ice, water can no longer flow, builds up, freezes, and adds to the dam. Ice dams can eventually result in gutter damage or, at worst, complete collapse if left unchecked. These dams can be caused by improperly cleaned gutters, clogged downspouts, poor attic ventilation, or improper roof pitch. To solve this issue, you may need to invest in additional insulation for your home.

Let’s look at some of the things that you can do to prevent overflowing gutters and avoid having to make costly repairs.

How To Prevent Gutters From Overflowing

Generally, regular inspection and maintenance is the best way to prevent overflowing gutters and clogs. By cleaning your gutters twice yearly and checking them for immediately noticeable weaknesses and damage, you can repair minor problems before they become major ones.

Furthermore, you should have a comprehensive roof inspection conducted by a trained and certified professional at least once a year. Roof inspections will not only catch any gutter problems you’re experiencing, but they’ll also help you determine the life expectancy of your roof, find damage to your shingles, leaks, and much more.

homeowners should always clean their gutters at least twice per year, once in the spring and again in the fall

Undertake Yearly Gutter Cleaning

Spring cleaning removes all the debris from spring pollination, which creates a layer of acidic plant material that erodes gutters. Fall cleaning removes all fallen leaves and branches. Clogged gutters contain a lot of unpleasant stuff, like animal waste, and you’ll need the proper protective gear, like gloves, a long-sleeve shirt, eye protection, and a mask.

You may be able to DIY this project if you are comfortable working at heights. Using your gloved hands or a gutter scoop, slowly work from corner to middle, removing debris as you go. Do not work from corner to corner, as this pushes debris into your downspout. Finally, rinse your gutters by hosing them down and carefully watch the flow of water to spot any leaks.

If you’re experiencing higher-than-average debris in your gutters, you might want to check your landscaping. If trees overhang above your gutters, they’ll drop far more foliage and plant matter into your gutters.

If you are not comfortable working at heights, I highly recommend contacting professional gutter cleaning services in your area.

Conduct Yearly Gutter Repairs and Inspections

Once every spring, you’ll want to undertake gutter maintenance and inspection after cleaning them. Every year, small incidents of damage from heavy debris or water expansion can occur and should be repaired before the influx of spring pollen. To do this, get on a stable ladder, grab a spotter, and begin your gutter inspection. You’ll want to look for the following:

  • Loose or hanging fasteners;
  • Cracks in gutter sections;
  • Loose connectors;
  • Gaps between the gutter and eaves;
  • Missing sealant;
  • Missing endcaps;
  • Loose spikes (the nails that hold the gutter to the fascia);
  • Damaged or partially disconnected downpipes or gutter downspout adapters.

You’ll want to repair any of these problems if you come across them. Most yearly repairs are simple tasks like tightening spikes, replacing caulk sealant, or attaching new endcaps. However, major damage like repairing larger holes or leaks can be harder to handle. Here is a quick video from Home Depot going over one of the best ways to manage a broken gutter section:

Install Gutter Guards and Splash Guards

Top ranking Gutter guards and splash guards are two easy and convenient fixes to clogged and overflowing gutter systems. Gutter guards are screens, typically wire mesh or plastic, that fit over the gutter, keeping pests and debris out. These guards will keep your gutters from getting clogged in the first place, improve gutter drainage, and make future cleanings much easier.

As its name suggests, a splash guard is a small shield that stops overflows. It looks like a small metal sheet, typically in an L shape, that screws onto the outside of the gutter. Splash guards are fitted onto corner sections, where water is likely to overflow, and keep water inside as it races toward the downspout. Many homes have steep roof valleys that, even with properly functioning gutters and in the event of heavy rain, experience overflows. For homes like these, splash guards are a must and act as a natural extension of the gutter system.

Final Thoughts

Gutter overflows are not only a noisy, annoying problem, but one that can also cause serious structural damage over time. If your gutters are overflowing, this could result in damage to your home’s fascia, roof shingles, and, in worst-case scenarios, your landscaping and foundation.

But, you can keep your gutters in tip-top shape by conducting annual cleanings, inspections, and repairs. If you’re experiencing constant water flow and drainage problems even with these tips, I recommend contacting a professional for an inspection and potential repair job.

Frequently Asked Questions About Clogged Gutters

Can heavy downpours or rainfall cause immediate gutter clogs?

A large storm can immediately clog your gutters if a lot of debris is knocked into your house’s drainage system. Additionally, you might experience overflowing gutters if a lot of rain is dumped on your home all at once, because your gutter system may not be able to handle large amounts of rainfall.

Is pressure washing a good way to clean clogged gutters?

I don’t recommend pressure washing your gutters because the force of the water can dislodge gutters from their hangers. Instead, using a scoop or trowel to remove debris is the best way to remove debris from clogged gutters.

How do I remove ice dams during winter?

It is always best to contact a professional to remove an ice dam from your gutter system. This is because winter conditions such as snow and ice can result in injuries. It’s generally not advised to pour boiling water into your downspouts to melt the ice dam either, because this can lead to burns.

Keep in mind that ice dams are not caused by clogged gutters, but a temperature imbalance between the exterior and interior of your home. If you often see ice dams in your gutter system, your attic needs to be reinsulated.

Can gutter guards prevent gutter clogs?

Buying gutter guards is a great way to prevent clogged gutters because gutter guards block debris from entering your gutters.

I still recommend investing in a twice-yearly cleaning of your house’s drainage system even if you do have gutter guards.

Can clogged gutters cause water damage to my home?

Yes, gutter clogs can result in water damage to your home. This is because clogs prevent the drainage system from functioning properly, which can result in water pooling around your home. Mold and mildew can also result from clogged gutters.

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