What is Gutter Pitch?
Gutter pitch is the slope or angle that gutters are installed in so that they drain properly. The most important thing to remember regarding gutter pitch is that water can not flow up hill. Thanks to gravity and gutter pitch water is able to freely flow towards the downspouts without any help. All gutters must be pitched in accordance to the downspout locations. If the downspout is on the left hand side like in the photo below, then that must also be the low point of the gutter. The end opposite the downspout must be the high point so that the water flows correctly.
Signs Your Gutter Pitch is Wrong
1. Visual Inspection
There are a couple signs to look for to confirm that your gutter pitch is off. The first step is a visual inspection of the gutter system. All downspouts should always be the low point of any gutter. If you observe your gutters to not be tilted towards the downspout, than the gutter pitch is off for sure. We call this “back pitched” when the gutter is tilted opposite the direction it should be. It is not always easy to tell by looking at the gutter. Most of the time the angle is so slight that you can’t see it without a level. Keep in mind if you can reach your gutter and put a level to it you can confirm if the gutter is pitched correctly.
In the above photos you can see one of the most common areas we see gutter pitch issues occur. That is on small gutter sections. Notice the smaller section of gutter that extends past the downspout? If you look closely you can see that it is tilted the wrong way. Because of gravity the water is going to run downhill, which in this situation is away from the downspout.
When this happens you will often see the water pour over the end cap like in the video attached further below. Eventually the water will ruin the seal of the end cap and that will need to be re-sealed with caulk or replaced.
Keep in mind you will need to re-pitch the gutter first or the problem will not go away.
2. Standing Water in Gutter
Another sign to look out for is standing water in the gutter. If you look into your gutters after it recently stopped raining and there was still water present. That is a perfect sign of incorrect gutter pitch. When you have a back pitched gutter the water is unable to flow uphill to the downspout. The water has absolutely no where to go when this happens but to drip from any seams. Overtime the constant excess weight from the water will lead to you needing to get your gutters re-secured with new hardware. Or possibly worse if the fascia board becomes pulled loose from the rafters.
The problem with standing water is that it could also be due to a clogged downspout or clogged underground drains. You must do a process of elimination to verify that your downspouts are not clogged. If there are no clogs and you have standing water, it is guaranteed that the gutter needs to be re-pitched.
3. Shingle Grit in Gutter or Sludge in the Gutter
Any time we see an accumulation of shingle grit granules in the gutter we automatically assume the pitch is off. We often see this happen with homeowners that recently get a new roof installed. What happens is these new roofs shed a lot of shingle grit in their first couple years. As long as your gutters are pitched and configured properly the shingle grit and any other small particles are supposed to flush right through. Therefore if you have a pile of shingle grit the gutter is either pitched incorrectly, loose, or possibly clogged.
Sludge in the gutter can come from gutter pitch or clogged gutters. Leaves and everything else that lands in your gutters will begin to break down over time if they are stuck there. Especially if there is standing water present. In the summer debris and standing water will heat up and cook in the gutters. This causes the organic material to decompose at a rapid pace. It quickly becomes sludge that looks like mud. If you have sludge or dried mud accumulation in your gutters then you either have pitch issues and/or clogged gutters.
Be sure to verify that your downspout is not clogged. For more information on Clogged Downspouts, CLICK HERE.
4. Gutter Overflow
Water overflowing over the gutters could be another sign that the pitch is incorrect. However there are a couple different things that could also cause your gutters to overflow. For example gutters that are clogged will have water overflowing near the downspout usually. If the water is pouring over the gutter in the middle section of a longer gutter then it is probably a loose gutter. Lastly if the water is going over on the end opposite the downspout then it is pitched incorrectly or “back pitched”.
CLICK HERE for more information on identifying different types of gutter overflow.
WATER OVERFLOWS OVER END CAP
One of the telltale signs that a gutter is not pitched correctly is when the water overflows directly over the end cap of the gutter. For this to be happening the gutter is tilted in the wrong way. All gutters should be pitched in accordance with the downspouts location. In the video below it shows how water overflows directly over the end cap. Eventually the seal will wear out and water will also leak through the end cap. If it gets to that point you will need to re-seal the end cap with a waterproof sealant.
How to Pitch a Gutter
When your gutter is pitched incorrectly it basically means that is is tilted wrong. The solution for this is to re-pitch the gutter in the correct direction. Having your “gutters re-pitched” or “re-pitching gutters” are the correct terminology for the repair gutter companies provide. If you’re wondering how to adjust gutter pitch, you’re in the right place.
To re-pitch a gutter properly it will need to be loosened from the wall. However the gutter does not have to be completely removed and taken down from the wall. One straight gutter with no miters that wrap around corners is going to be the easiest gutter to pitch. No other adjustments will be needed. If the gutters wrap around the corners with gutter miters than this process becomes much more difficult.
We won’t get into too much about re-pitching gutters around corners in this article. We’ll save that for it’s own special article. Basically you will have to determine where the downspouts are then make sure that all gutters are tilted correctly around the corners.
STEPS TO RE-PITCH GUTTERS
Here is a very brief list of steps to re-pitch a gutter. If you are going to be doing the repair yourself we do suggest watching at least one or two YouTube videos on Gutter Re-pitching as well.
- Use the downspout’s location to determine where the gutter’s high point and low point should be.
- Once you’ve figured out which way the gutter should be pitched, you’ll want to start to remove the gutter brackets or gutter spikes. (We always leave both end brackets on and one loose bracket in the middle)
- Now that you’ve removed all of the brackets but the two ends and the middle you are ready to set the gutter.
- Remove one end bracket (doesn’t matter which) and set the gutter in it’s correct position. Then secure the gutter bracket by using a drill. (assuming you are using screw in hidden hangers)
- Repeat the same step on the opposite side. If you set the low point last time you will be setting the high point this time. Some technicians will prefer to remove the middle bracket at this time and some will keep it in place loosely. It is personal preference that is up to you.
- Once you have set both ends you need to set the middle. If you kept the middle bracket on through this process you will need to loosen the bracket completely. After it is loose the gutter will adjust itself to where it needs to be so it is a straight line from end to end. Re-secure the gutter hanger with the middle positioned properly.
- Re-secure the rest of the gutter with hidden hangers every 2-4 feet.
- Confirm with a level that it is pitched properly if you are not sure if you did the task correctly.
What Direction Should I Pitch The Gutter If It Has 2 Downspouts?
Often times for longer gutters there will be a downspout on each end of the gutter. This helps the gutter system to handle larger volumes of water. Therefore you will often see two downspouts on with bigger roofs.
Whenever there are 2 downspouts on one gutter we pitch the gutter in the middle. What this means is the middle of the gutter is now the high point. All water that lands in the gutter will evenly flow towards both downspouts. What it does is it alleviates any pressure by evenly spreading through the system.
Steps to pitch with the High Point in the Middle
- For a fresh install you would set the ends of the gutter so that they are level.
- Next you would go to the middle of the gutter and raise it up against the drip edge so that it is not too high.
- Set a bracket once you have the middle raised properly.
- Once you have both ends and the middle set you re-secure the rest of the gutter with brackets every 2-4 feet.
If you have verified that your gutters and downspouts are clear, but you are still experiencing water overflowing the gutters, standing water, or water overflowing the end caps than your gutter may need to be re-pitched. Take a walk around your home every couple months to do a visual inspection of your gutter system. If you can see something that doesn’t look like it’s slanted correctly then it probably isn’t.
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Frederick, MD 21701
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