How To Repair A Broken Seam In Aluminum Gutters

Aluminum gutter seams can separate over time after repeated exposure to sun, rain, ice and wind. These broken seams not only permit water to leak, they also can weaken the gutter structure and eventually may damage the gutters or even the fascia. However, repairing these seams is not difficult and can be accomplished with just a few minutes work. Below are the supplies and tools you will need, as well as easy-to-follow directions for fixing broken seams in aluminum gutters:

What you will need

  • Plastic roofing cement

  • Fiberglass fabric mesh

  • Scissors

  • Work gloves

  • 2-inch wide margin trowel

  • Electric drill with ⅛-inch bit

  • Pop hand riveter

  • ⅛-inch blind rivets

  • Locking pliers

  • Wire brush

  • Degreasing spray cleaner

  • Paper towels

  • Step ladder or extension ladder

Step-by-step repair procedure

1. Work with safety as a priority - Whenever you perform work on gutters, be sure to take a few important safety precautions to keep yourself from being hurt:

  • Position your ladder on firm, level ground to ensure it doesn't slip or fall when you climb.

  • Be aware of power lines that may enter your home near the roof line and keep a safe distance.

  • Wear protective gloves that will prevent cuts and scratches when working with sharp gutter edges.

  • Look for stinging insect nests and hives attached to the fascia or gutters before beginning your work.

1. Thoroughly clean the interior surfaces of the gutter - Before attempting to repair the seam, you will need to clean the inside of the gutter to remove all dirt, animal droppings, oil, tar or other debris that might prevent good adhesion of the cement. Spray the inside of the gutter on both sides of the seam with a degreaser, then wipe it clean with paper towels. If there are any stubborn traces remaining, use a wire brush to scrub the gutter clean, then re-spray and wipe it dry.

2. Clamp the gutter together at the seam - After the gutter is cleaned out, you will need to clamp together the sections on both sides of the separated seam. Position and hold the gutter pieces together by hand, and attach a pair of locking pliers to keep the sections in-place while you perform the repair.

3. Rivet the seams - When the seams are clamped together, drill a ⅛-inch hole through the front wall of the gutter sections, then use a pop riveter to install a blind aluminum rivet. Next, drill another hole about one-half of an inch beneath the first one, and install a second rivet.

4. Apply a layer of plastic roofing cement to the interior of the gutter - Dip the corner of your margin trowel into the roofing cement container, then apply a layer of cement to the inside of the gutter on both sides of the seam. Spread the cement about three inches on both sides, then fill in the seam area itself so that no bare metal is visible and the rivet heads are covered, as well. The layer of cement should be approximately ⅛-inch thick across the site of the repair.

5. Cut and inlay a strip of fiberglass mesh tape - After the initial layer of plastic roofing cement has been spread into the gutter interior, cut several 6-inch by 2-inch long strips of fiberglass mesh. Place the strips of fiberglass mesh on top of the roofing cement, then push them carefully into the cement with your hands or the trowel. Be sure that the entire seam area is covered by the mesh.

6. Add a final layer of roofing cement - Once the fiberglass mesh has been laid on top of the cement, use your trowel to apply another ⅛-inch thick layer of roofing cement on top of the mesh. Cover all of the strips, then spread the roofing cement smoothly, tapering it to prevent leaving any rough edges that might catch debris inside the gutter channel. Allow the roofing cement to dry before removing the locking pliers.

For more information on repairing gutters, check out a company like Gutter Magician NKY.