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Palatine Roof Repair

Here are six common types of gutter leaks and guidelines on how to fix them.

1. Clogs. Your gutters themselves could be perfect — but if there are too many leaves and twigs inside them, water will still leak over the sides. Debris from trees, wind, and animals can block the flow of runoff water to the downspouts.

Cleaning out your gutters is a simple (although time-consuming) fix. But if you truly loathe gutter cleaning, hire a professional, or invest in a gutter protection system.

2. Loose fasteners. Whether your gutter is fastened to your roof with hangers, screws, or nails, these can sometimes work themselves loose. As a result, the runoff water can flow over the rear edge of your gutters, and damage your fascia boards in the process.

Therefore, you must get up on a ladder and re-fasten the gutters to the roofline, preferably with a stronger fastener (or two). But if your fascia boards are already rotted, you’ll need to replace those, because the gutters won’t stay attached to deteriorating wood.

3. Holes. These often form after several years of use. Tiny amounts of water can pool in a certain part of a gutter section and cause corrosion over time. Sometimes, it’s enough to create a hole in the gutters themselves.

In most cases, holes can be filled with a caulk or waterproof sealant (though be sure to clean the area around the hole before sealing it). If the hole is large, you should probably just replace the entire gutter section.

4. Cracks. The same process which leads to holes causes cracks, but these tend to occur at places in which fasteners pass through the metal or where gutter sections are joined together. These locations are especially vulnerable to water or debris accumulation, and they can sometimes separate from each other completely.

Small cracks can be fixed with sealant or caulk, but larger separations may require more work. In these latter cases, it’s a good idea to reattach the gutter parts at the separated seam and re-fasten them to prevent future separations.

5. Improper slope. Over time, the changes in temperatures and the weight of water and debris could cause gutters to sag at certain spots. When this happens, the natural slope which channels the runoff water toward the downspouts disappears — and the water simply overflows the sides of the guttering.

Unfortunately, this issue usually requires re-hanging some or all of the gutter sections to achieve the proper slope (between 1/4 and 1/2 of an inch per 10 feet of guttering). You may need to snap a chalk line on the fascia boards in order to outline the appropriate slope before the gutters are hung up again.

6. Joint separations. One of the weakest points of a gutter system is the joints where water must bend around a corner before continuing toward a downspout. These joints are prone to collecting water and debris, which can lead to any of the above mentioned leaks.

Sometimes, the easiest fix will be to simply replace the problematic joint. But depending on the precise type of leak, sealant or caulk might be enough to repair it. Still, it’s important to make sure that the gutters aren’t sagging at the joint; otherwise, the leak may return in the future.
Palatine Roof Repair
Palatine Roof Repair

The fascia board and soffit plywood rotted because it rested on the roof shingles and soaked up rain water. The wood fascia board was replaced with rot-proof PVC composite board. Flashing is installed at the roof valley to channel the rain water away from the fascia and soffit.

The rotted area is shown here where the fascia board rests on the main roof:

A challenge is working on a 12/12 pitch steep roof on the second story of the home.

I noticed the plywood soffit was cracked and curling under the eaves on where it contacted the main roof. It was difficult to fully assess the problem from ground level, so I got a ladder and zoomed in with my camera. Definitely a water intrusion problem here:

I didn’t have to wait very long for a rainy day to look at the problem from inside the attic. I carefully maneuvered myself in the attic to get a look at soffit from the inside. I did this for two reasons:

To see the extent of the rain water intrusion.
To better understand the soffit and frame construction.
The soffit is located below the rafter ends in the yellow square in this next photo:

I couldn’t get close enough to the exterior wall to see into the soffit cavity due to the wedge of the roof and nails sticking out, but I was able to reach out with the camera and take photos. There are several problems here:

Rain water is soaking the fascia board where it contacts the roof. This is the blackened area.
Rain water is leaking and pooling on top of the plywood soffit.
Squirrels have gotten into the attic at some point during the last 9 years to store nuts, leaving a mess.
Rotted Fascia Board: Rain Water Leaking on the Fascia and Soffit
Rotted Fascia Board: Rain Water Leaking on the Fascia and Soffit

Closeup of the fascia board water damage where it lays on the roof. It was raining when I took these photos. The rain water is leaking onto and behind the fascia board.

Wet and Rotted Fascia Board on the Roof Shingles
Wet and Rotted Fascia Board on the Roof Shingles

I checked between the roof rafters along the soffit. The story was pretty much the same along this section of the soffit. Rain water intrusion and nuts from squirrels in the attic.

Attic View - Roof Deck, Rafters, Lookouts, Fascia and Plywood Soffit
Attic View – Roof Deck, Rafters, Lookouts, Fascia and Plywood Soffit

Notice the large carpenter’s gap between the OSB roof deck and the top of the fascia board in the above photo. The shingles lay over the carpenter’s gap into the gutter. Such a large gap in my opinion is sloppy construction and squirrels can get into the attic by wiggling or gnawing through this gap. All my neighbors say their houses are were built the same way with this large ~2″ gap between the roof deck and fascia. A 1/2″ gap is reasonable but not a 2 inches!

I asked my county building inspector if this was a building code violation, he said there’s nothing in building code on this topic, but if he were on an inspection and saw such a gap he would make the builder rework it. I also spoke with a roofing contractor that I met at a roofing supply store near Atlanta. He nodded knowingly at my problem description and that said particular county had updated the local building code specifically to address this issue.

To keep squirrels out of the attic, you can block the gap between the roof deck and fascia by installing:

Wire hardware cloth (wire mesh) under the shingles to keep critters out.
Roof drip edge flashing to cover the gap. Also called “eave drip” flashing.
I later had my roof replaced and drip edge flashing installed to cover the carpenter’s gap. The attic has been 100% squirrel free ever since.
Gutter covers that fit under the shingles and also cover the ends of the gutter.I chose this option. More details later in this article.
Hint: If you decide to install drip edge flashing, you won’t find many options at the “big box” home improvement stores. Your best bet is to visit a roofing supply store where the professionals shop. I found the sales people at Commercial Roofing Specialties, Inc. to be friendly and helpful with a huge selection of tools and materials.