How To Replace A Broken Rain Gutter

Most homeowners don't spend a lot of time thinking about rain gutters. Your gutter works in the background, channeling water away from your home. While the occasional cleaning is typically enough to maintain them, a full-on break due to high winds or falling objects necessitates swift replacement. If gutters are left broken, water can and will channel down onto your house, creating the risk for foundation and siding damage over time. Learn how to replace a rain gutter and get water moving in the right direction in this helpful DIY guide.

Before You Start

Because you'll be working on ladders, and, potentially, on the roof, you shouldn't work alone when undertaking this project. Even having a friend or family member monitor you is helpful. Be safe, and never move forward unless you're sure you understand the instructions.

Steps One and Two: Clear Out the Old Gutter and Measure

Pull the old gutter off the fascia and clear it away. If the old gutter is still in one piece, this step is easy. Just measure its length and record the details. If it's not, measure the trim directly below your roof instead. To get the right measurement, draw a measuring tape along the area where your gutter used to sit, traversing from the outside edge to the downspout. 

Take the length and the height measurements to your local hardware store. Purchase the same length of gutter pipe, an end cap, and a tube of waterproof sealant. You'll also need a box of brackets--these are usually sold in packages of 10, 20, or 25. 

Step Three: Seal One End of Your Gutter Pipe

Your rain gutter works by channeling water through the pipe to a single end, so you need to seal off the opposite end to the downspout. Lay the main length of your gutter pipe out on a flat surface, or place it on the ground on a tarp. Take the end cap piece you purchased at the hardware store and fill its inner edges with waterproof sealant. Then, press this against the end of your new gutter pipe. 

Using pliers, crimp the sides of the end piece onto the pipe. Allow this to dry for two to three hours before proceeding.

Step Four: Attach the Far End

Have a friend help you to line the main length of your gutter up with the edge of your roof. Starting at the opposite end to the downspout, place the side of a level tool against your roof. Draw it down until half of it is hanging over the roof.

If the edge of the level clears the gutter's position without hitting it, ideally by just a few millimeters, your rain gutter is at the right height. If it hits the gutter, it's too high; bring the gutter pipe down another 0.5 centimeters and try again. If it clears it by a number of centimeters, it's too low--place it a centimeter higher and try again.

Once you've ascertained the height, have a friend press the gutter firmly up against the trim underneath your roof. Grab one of the brackets and insert it under the lip on either side of the gutter. This creates an easy channel for you to drive your screws through the back side and into the wall, and provides the rain gutter with additional support for rain and snow.

Go ahead and drive a screw through this first bracket now.

Step Five: Create a Pitch

Move to the opposite end of the gutter pipe--the end that will eventually attach to your downspout. Insert another bracket into this end of the gutter to ready it for attachment. Then, set a level tool against the trim. Tilt the level just enough that the bubble in the center begins to shift across whichever line is opposite to the side with the downspout on it. Mark this with a pen or marker, and set the level down.

Remember: you want the water to enter the opposite end of the gutter, and then flow down and into the downspout. Always angle the gutter so it slopes down towards the downspout.

Step Six: Attach the Rest of Your Brackets

‚ÄčOnce you're satisfied with placement, insert a bracket and drive a screw through the end closest to the downspout end. Once this screw is attached, you can let go of the gutter and it won't fall off of the house, so feel free to tell your friend he or she can take a break.

Once the bracket is attached, use all of the remaining brackets to secure its length. Ideally, you should place them no more than 10" to 14" apart for the entire length of the gutter. If you live in an area with frequent high winds, more support doesn't hurt--feel free to place them every 8" instead.

Once you're done, all that's left to do is connect your downspout and you're ready to go!

As a homeowner, getting to know your home and how to repair small issues like a broken rain gutter is important. While this process is fairly easy to follow, not everyone is comfortable handling tools or climbing ladders--and that's okay! If you have questions about this or any other DIY gutter repair, contact a contractor.