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Home guttering systems are sturdier than they might appear at first glance. According to the National Association of Homebuilders, gutters made of galvanized steel or aluminum usually last for about two decades, and copper gutters tend to hold their own for about half a century. But these time periods may not account for problems like fallen tree limbs or damage for ladders. So if you don’t know when your gutters were installed, how can you tell whether or not it’s time to replace them? You certainly don’t want to rely on a guttering system that’s dysfunctional. But you don’t also want to rip down a perfectly-good set of gutters just because you may see a blemish or two (which some unscrupulous roofing companies may recommend that you do while they fix your roof so they can charge you more money). So here are ten signs to look for:

A large number of cracks, holes, or rust spots. A few of these can be fixed using some sealant and maybe a little flashing. But if you see more than half a dozen sections where this is apparent, then you may want to opt for all new gutters.

Several broken fasteners. These are the pieces of metal that hold your gutter to your roof and keep it level. If you can repair a few fasteners, great: but if these problems persist, the gutters themselves may be the issue.

Nails or screws on the ground. Sometimes, the nails or screws that fasten the gutter to the fascia can work themselves loose. Replacing them isn’t difficult; but again, repeated instances of this may indicate gutter wear.

Separated gutters. Guttering systems only function if they are fastened together in a continuous channel. If they begin separating from one another frequently, it may be time for a gutter replacement.

Gutters pulling away from the roof. You can hammer in the fasteners time and again, but if spaces continue to appear between your roofline and your gutters, the fascia boards may be rotting. A gutter replacement will fix the fascia problems along with giving you new gutters.

Sagging or improperly-pitched gutters. If a proper pitch is not maintained along your gutter system, the water will pool in certain sections and possibly spill over. Consider replacing your gutters if you are unable to fix this problem.

Peeling exterior paint. When gutters pull away from your roof, the water can seep down over the rear edge and onto your siding or trim. Peeling paint means this has been happening for a while and you should probably replace your gutters.

Dirt channels or pooling water. After a rain event, you may notice evidence that water is spilling over your gutters. Try to correct the problem, but consider a gutter replacement if the water doesn’t go away.

Eroded landscaping. You work hard to make your landscaping look good. If you must repeatedly invest time and money to repair water damage from malfunctioning gutters, bite the bullet and arrange for a gutter replacement.

Flooded basements. Water constantly pouring near your foundation can leak into your basements, where it can do some costly damage. While repairing your basement, you should go ahead and replace your gutters as well.

One final tip: if you do have to replace your gutters, think about installing a gutter protection system as well. Frost Roofing can not only replace your gutters but they can also put on  gutter guards so you never have to clean your gutters again. Plus, you’ll have peace of mind that your gutters will last as long as they are designed to.