How to Spot and Fix Miter Leaks in the Winter
Our professionals at Gutterworks have noticed that the winter is a common time to discover issues with your gutter system. This time of year brings harsher weather conditions that can wreak havoc on your home and its gutter system. Figuring out whether or not there is a problem now is key to making repairs or other plans for future action.
Winter weather can bring lots of precipitation – and colder weather allows the dampness to stick around a lot longer than in the hot days of summer. Your gutters help your home weather wet conditions, and you will be able to tell if your gutter system has deficiencies by looking for leaks. Specifically – the winter is a great time to inspect and look for leaks in your gutter miters.
What is a miter, and what types of miters are there?
When professionals install your gutters, they might create seams by connecting sections of the gutter system along the way. "Miters" connect your gutters at the corners of your roof. These miters allow your gutter system to wrap around your house. Without them, your home would need a downspout at the end of each side of your roof.
There are several styles of miter that your gutter system might have, including box miters, strip miters, hand-tabbed miters, or even unique miters customized for your home.
Box miters are pre-manufactured corners that come in one solid piece, designed to affix to the ends of the two guttering runs being joined. Box miters have two seams and need to be attached and sealed on either side where it connects to your gutters.
Strip miters allow gutters to line up at a 45-degree angle and cover a single seam where they come together. The strip wraps around the seam created by the two adjoining gutters in the corner and attaches directly to each gutter section at that seam.
Hand-tabbed miters are very similar to strip miters, except they attach two gutter sections using tabs inside the gutters instead of wrapping a strip around the outside.
None of these miters is entirely seamless, so no matter which type of miter your gutters have, securely sealing the area is vital.
How can you tell you have a problem with your miters?
Just like gutter seams, miters are the most vulnerable areas in your gutter system. The corners of your gutter system see uneven wear because water doesn’t naturally flow around a corner. Because of this, they are the most common location for leaks to occur. Leaks commonly occur because of sealant failure. Typically, sealant can last 1-5 years, but different factors can affect that life span. Another cause could be rust or corrosion, which should be visible on the exterior of your miter, but might also only appear inside. Improper installation may also be a factor, especially if you notice a leak after a recent installation. Finally, damage or general disrepair could be another reason your miter is leaking.
You can usually identify a leak during or right after a rain event by walking around your house and looking for dripping water from the corners of your gutter system. A miter leak will usually be dripping from the bottom of the miter. If your gutter is clogged, your miter could appear to be leaking when, in reality, there is no leak – the clog is just causing overflow, dripping down over the side to the bottom of the gutter.
The winter makes leaks easier to identify for a couple of reasons. First, you can probably see more of your gutter system in the winter: foliage from trees that may be obstructing your view of the gutter system has fallen, leaving bare branches. Second, ice melting will create a continuous flow from a leaky miter, making the leak obvious for longer. Icicles forming on the underside of your gutter are also tell-tale signs that your miter is leaking.
What can you do next?
If you notice a leak in your miter this winter, you should determine whether you can reseal your gutters at the location of the leak or whether you need to look at replacing your gutters or the miter itself. Resealing is typically only an option for gutters under 10 years old, but total replacement is also necessary if your gutter is rusted or otherwise damaged. Evaluating what your leaky miter needs is a job for a professional, and at Gutterworks, we are happy to help you figure out how to best proceed. Give us a call at (304)848-9870 to ask us how we can help you this winter!