How to Use Rain Gutters

As roofs shed water, rain gutters catch rain and melted snow flowing off the roof. The slope of the gutter sends water to the downspout and carries it away from the foundation of the house. Using rain gutters properly prevents damage to the foundation, landscape and stairs along with other masonry and wood structures. Without rain gutters, water erodes the soil, enters garages, basements and crawl spaces. Water entry leads to wood rot, mold and mildew in the home, all of which threaten the house’s structural integrity.

Things You’ll Need

  • Leaf scoop
  • Plastic roofing cement
  • Putty knife
  • Gutter repair mesh or metal flashing
  • End caps
  • Mallet
  • Gutter sealant
  • Power screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Galvanized screws or nails


1. Install sectional or seamless gutters along the eaves of the home. Slope the gutters 1/4 inch per 10 feet toward the downspout. Manufacturers make sectional gutters in standard 10-foot lengths. Professional gutter installers fabricate seamless gutters from one continuous piece, usually on site.

2. Install downspouts along the edge of the house running perpendicularly to the rain gutter. Extend the end of the downspout a minimum of 12 inches along the ground, pointing away from the house to channel water away from the foundation.

3. Clean rain gutters to keep them free of twigs, dead leaves, bird nests and other items that prevent the flow of water. Access the gutter line with a ladder and remove the debris by hand or with a leaf scoop.

4. Spread plastic roofing cement over holes from the inside of the gutter with a putty knife. Embed a piece of gutter repair mesh or metal flashing and apply a second coat of plastic roofing cement to repair holes and keep them from growing larger.

5. Inspect the gutters for missing or loose end caps. Tap loose end caps back in place with the palm of your hand or a lightweight mallet. Replace missing end caps with new ones to keep the gutter system in good working order.

6. Apply gutter sealant to leaking seams and fittings to close gaps. Squeeze gutter sealant from a tube or load it into a caulking gun and spread it over the gap with a putty knife.

7. Examine the gutters for loose or falling sections. Secure loose or falling gutters with brackets or straps to the fascia board or roof deck. Use a power screwdriver to sink screws in to hold the brackets or straps. Drive galvanized nails in with a hammer to hold the straps or brackets.

Tips & Warnings

  • Install commercially available screening over the gutter to prevent leaves and twigs from blocking the gutters.
  • Place a leaf strainer into the top of the downspout to stop leaves and debris from clogging the downspout.
  • Do not lean ladders against the gutter; the weight will collapse or break it.

Contact for Gutter Cleaner Service in Raleigh NC

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