For us, viewing the outdoors at this time of year is a distinct pleasure. Lawns are at their greenest, shrubs are brilliant red and bright white, and the fruit trees are soft purple, white and light pink. The foothills, just a few hundred yards from us, are covered with tall green grass.
The warmer season in all its glory, unfortunately, means dealing with another byproduct of winter rain – rust. And, for today’s purposes, rusty rain gutters. Rust ruins metal. When that happens leaks are inevitable. But don’t fret. We have a few tips on gutter repair that will leave you plenty of time to enjoy the splendor of spring.
Roof gutters are made out of plastic, aluminum, galvanized steel, wood and copper, to name a few. Most are metal and therefore are subject to rust. When a rusty area results in a leak, try this quick two-part procedure to 1) remove the rust, and 2) stop the leak. You’ll need:
- a wire brush or a wire wheel mounted on an electric drill
- a throwaway paint brush, strips of tin foil or plastic
- rust-converter paint and roofing cement.
A second type of repair will require small pieces of sheetmetal in place of the tin foil.
The most important element of leak repair caused by rust is getting rid of the rust. First, use a wire brush or a wire wheel on a drill to remove all loose rust. Some so-called experts will tell you that once the loose rust is removed a rust converter can be painted on and the rust will not return. Not so. Get rid of as much rust as possible by brushing thoroughly. Then, for better results, use a liquid rust remover (phosphoric acid) to eliminate the rust that is left after the wire-brushing. Finally, clean the damaged area completely, and paint on a coat of rust converter. What’s left will become inert and should not present a future problem.
After the rust is removed and the converter is applied, it’s time to stop the leak. After the rust converter is completely dry, apply an eighth-inch-thick coat of roof cement around the leak. Before the cement dries add several strips of tin foil. With the tin foil in place, use a can or a jar on its side to roll everything flat. Once all is smooth, add a final layer of roof patch. The total thickness of the repair should not exceed about three-sixteenths of an inch. A dam can be created if too much roof cement is used.
For larger repairs, the tin foil should be replaced with a piece of sheetmetal. Heating contractors often have scraps that are perfect for this type of repair. Chances are you can get the scrap you’ll need for a handshake and a thank you. This repair is made exactly like the first one. Simply use the sheetmetal where the foil was applied.
For badly damaged areas, sheetmetal plates can be pop-riveted into place and sealed with liquid aluminum. This is a job that you might want to give to a sheetmetal contractor. Another option is getting a gutter replacement. You would be surprised at how gutter shapes have changed over decades.
If a gutter is sagging, repair the mounting brackets before fixing leaks. You will not want the gutter shape to change once the leak has been fixed. This could cause a patch to open.
Wood gutters can be fitted with a metal liner, patched, sectioned or preserved. Preservation is an aspect of wood-gutter maintenance that you can undertake yourself. You can use store-bought wood preservative or make your own by mixing one part of boiled linseed oil to one part of paint thinner or turpentine. Add a mildicide to the concoction as if it were exterior paint. Mildicide can be purchased at your local paint store. Clean the gutters with a pressure washer, and, when dry, use a garden sprayer to apply the oil.