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Sagging gutters not only affect the appearance of your home but can lead to water damage over time.

Roof gutters are an essential part of your home’s drainage system, but they may warp or sag over time. Left unattended, gutter sag can cause serious issues and you may need to replace your gutters entirely.

Fortunately, most homeowners can fix sagging gutters with just a few tools and some basic skills. Here’s what you need to know.

Why do gutters sag?

A number of culprits can cause sagging gutters, but the most common causes for sagging gutters include:

• Placing a ladder against them to hang Christmas lights or do roof work

• Large build-ups of debris like leaves or dirt from neglecting to clean your gutters

• Heavy rainfall

• Snow that partially melts, then freezes in your gutters to form a heavy chunk of ice

If your gutter sags enough, it won’t drain water to a downspout but instead create a stagnant pool of water that is perfect for mosquitoes to breed. Eventually the gutter will start to leak, allowing water to get behind your walls and damage your home.

How to fix sagging gutters

To fix a sagging gutter, you first need to identify the cause. In some cases, the gutter itself will bend, whereas in others the supports that hold it in place may come loose or break. If the metal is bent or torn, you’re best to remove and replace the entire gutter section. But if the sag has just started, get a ladder (and a spotter), head up and take a look. Often, the hangers or spikes that hold the gutter in place will be loose or broken. In these cases, you can remove the problem hardware and replace it, and your gutter should be back on the job.

Start by taking a look at the gutter from end to end. Is the sag a result of missing or broken hangers or is it low in places where there are no hangers at all? You can fix the issue in either case.

If damaged hangers are the problem, remove them from the roof by using a pry bar or locking pliers and a hammer and then install new hardware in their place. In the case of gutter spikes, make sure any you install are threaded. You can achieve a snug fit by placing wooden shims coated in epoxy into the hole first and then threading in the new spike.

If you’re putting up new hangers or spikes where none previously existed, look for nailheads along the roofline that indicate rafters are underneath because screwing into the rafters provides a better hold. Make sure you don’t tackle this kind of gutter repair alone because removing an entire length of old gutter is unwieldy at best and dangerous at work. Always have a spotter.

When you need a gutter repair pro

If the damage to your gutters goes beyond a single roofline or if you’ve already completed multiple fixes but the problem keeps coming back, you should consider hiring a roofer or gutter repair professional. The right contractor can help you quickly identify the root cause of your sagging gutters, recommend a solution and implement it quickly.

In some cases, what the pros do will be a scaled-up version of the DIY repairs mentioned above, but in others they’ll need to completely revamp your existing gutter system. It’s possible, for example, that the original gutters installed on your home aren’t wide enough to handle the water load or are made of a less-than-ideal material. No matter the issue, a reputable roofing or gutter pro can find a long-term solution.