GIMME SHELTER- Gutter gussying: Get that water flowing!

Ronnie Kite, Meadowbrook HardwareQ: My metal gutters are clogged and crooked, but I don't want to replace them yet. Any tips on saving my old gutters? 

A: Giving old gutter work a makeover can greatly improve the look of your house, and it might even save your gutters. One of the most common problems we see is people allowing standing water to remain in their gutters for long periods of time. Not only does that create a breeding ground for mosquitoes, but eventually the gutters will rust and begin to leak. I've seen people have to replace their entire gutter systems simply because they didn't clear and realign them. 

First off, give your gutters a thorough cleaning, making sure to remove all the debris. You can do this by hand, with a garden hose or pressure washer, even a broom and broom handle. Just make sure you're comfortable on your roof or on the ladder angles you'll have to use. If not, hire a handyman or professional to reach those difficult spots. 

Once it's clean, loosen or remove the gutter spikes– the long nails used to attach the gutters to the house– and realign the gutters so they drain better toward the downspout. The gutter should be slightly angled, not so much that it looks lopsided, but enough for water to flow freely toward the downspout. If the gutters have rust pinholes or leaks, use roofing cement to plug them. Once they're angled properly and secured, you can test the water flow by spraying a garden hose on the roof.  

If there are leaks where the downspouts attach to the gutter, use self-tapping sheet metal screws to tighten them up. Again, feel free to use roofing cement to seal these areas.   

If the attachment elbows are in really rough shape, consider replacing them. You can go to a roof and gutter pro to get them cut to size, or try to find them at a home and garden store.

We also recommend installing metal downspout drainers to catch debris before it reaches the downspout, as well as attaching gutter guard screens to keep leaves and other debris from falling into the gutters in the first place. 

Lastly, make sure the downspouts are properly lined up with the drainage pipes leading away from the house.

Ronnie Kite