Loose Gutter Spikes? Here’s How to Fix It.

Do you ever look up at your gutters and realize the spikes (or nails) are coming out?

Yep, you can actually see your gutters falling apart. That’s exactly what you wanted to deal with, loose gutter spikes.

Well, this issue is more common than you may think, especially on homes that are 20 or 30 years old.

Luckily, it’s pretty easy to fix this issue.

Signs your Gutters Spikes are Loose

Gutter spikes are a type of gutter bracket or hanger. They are responsible for keeping the gutters attached to your home. Think of them as the nails that keep the gutters aligned and from falling off.

Gutter spikes are from an older style of gutter called, spike and ferrule. Usually from homes built 20-30 years ago. Newer homes will typically use a different type of gutter bracket, called hidden hangers, and they won’t have the spikes sticking out.

Spike and ferrule gutters were used because they are easy to install and are relatively affordable, but they have one major downside.

The gutter spikes begin to slide out and loosen over time.

Spike and ferrule gutters are held up by the gutter spikes that get hammered into your fascia (the wooden board along your roofline). But over time, as your gutters and fascia get exposed to heat and cold, the parts will expand and contract. Because of this, the gutter spikes begin to slip out.

You Can See Gutter Spikes Sticking Out

So how can you tell if your gutter spikes/nails are loose?

Well, usually you can tell by visually looking if the spikes are sticking out.

This is a big sign that your gutters are loosening and that they need to repaired as soon as possible.

The spikes are easy to see and they look like nails that aren’t hammered in all of the way.

You can see in the photo to the right that the spikes are sticking out a good inch or two and it’s a sign they need to be fixed.

gutter spikes slipping out

Gutters are Sagging or Misaligned

Another sign you may have loose gutter spikes, is if your gutters are sagging or are out of alignment. You can tell if your gutters are sagging by looking at the placement in regards to your roofline.

If your gutters are far below the roofline or lower than other parts of your gutters, this is a sign they are sagging and need to be realigned.

Luckily, gutter spikes are easy to fix if they begin to loosen.

How To Fix Loose Gutter Spikes

Ok, so you’ve identified that loose gutter spikes are the problem you are dealing with, let’s get into how to fix it. There are two main methods you can use.

Method #1: Rehammer the Spikes Back In

loose gutter spike

This method is focused on doing the bare minimum in order to keep your gutters functional. It’s the most inexpensive method and is (somewhat) easy to do. All we are doing is climbing up to the gutters and rehammering the spikes back into the fascia.

You want to make sure the gutters have the proper pitch for water flow to the downspouts., so you’ll use a level to ensure the alignment is correct. The only downside to this method is that in the future you may have to rehammer your gutter spikes back in again.

Tools Required:

  • Level
  • Ladder
  • Hammer
Method #1 simplified: Grab a ladder and climb up to your gutters, then align the gutters with the level so they are angled towards your downspout, then hammer the spikes back into the fascia. Boom, you're done.

Step 1: Setup your Ladder

To begin this project, you’ll need a ladder so you can reach your gutter brackets. We are going to be working from bracket to bracket, only targeting the loose ones, so you will climbing up and down a lot.

It’s always recommended to have a partner hold the ladder for you and keep it stable.

If you are working on the second story of your home, it’s best to follow OSHA’s guidelines for working on elevated surfaces, or simply getting an experienced contractor to do the work for you.

Step 2: Adjust Pitch of your Gutters

Once you are up on the ladder and in position next to your gutters, grab your level. We need to adjust the pitch or angle of the gutters so that they are angled towards the downspout. This will ensure that all of the water in your gutters will flow down the downspouts.

You are not trying to angle the gutters too much. You just need a slight angle. Just angle the gutters enough so the bubble on your level is slightly offset from the middle (it doesn’t take much).

If you are confused during this process, watch the above video for setting the right gutter pitch.

Step 3: Rehammer Spikes Back In

Now that you’ve got the right gutter pitch, we need to rehammer the spikes back into the fascia.

There are two ways to do this. The first way is to hammer the spikes back into the same hole in the fascia. This is definitely the easier way of doing it, but if the hole is too large your gutter spikes/nails will slip back out again in due time.

When rehammering, you want to make sure the spike is inside of the ferrule sleeve to protect it from the elements.

After hammering it back in, try shaking the spike to test it. If it feels solid, you are probably ok.

Otherwise it’s recommended to install the gutter spike into a new hole in the fascia. To do this move the spike an inch or two and hammer it into the fascia.

This is not the easiest to do, as it will require a bit of force and holding the spike and ferrule bracket in place can be tricky. If you struggle with this method, we recommend moving onto method #2.

Step 4: Repeat for Each Gutter Spike

Now that you’ve done one spike/nail, now work your way around you home hammering all of the spikes back into place. Once you’ve finished, you’re gutters should be in tip-top shape and fully operational.

Method #2: Upgrade to Hidden Hanger Brackets

hidden hanger brackets

Upgrading to hidden hanger brackets is a more of a commitment as you’ll need to go to the store and purchase all of the new brackets, but it can result in gutters that are longer lasting, better looking, and more stable.

Instead of being hammered through the front of the gutter and into the fascia, hidden hangers are screwed into the fascia and hooked under the lip on the inside of your gutters, making them completely hidden from view.

The screws tend to hold better than the spike and ferrule nails, so less maintenance is required.

Method #2 Simplified: Climb up on a ladder and remove the spike and ferrule bracket. Then align the gutters with the level and screw-in the hidden hanger brackets. Repeat for each bracket until complete.

Tools required:

  • A ladder
  • Measuring tape
  • Level
  • Hammer
  • Hidden hanger brackets (one for every 2 feet of gutter)
  • Electric screwdriver

Step 1: Setup Ladder

To get this kicked off, we need a way to access the gutters, hence the ladder. Place the ladder underneath the gutter spike you are going swap out. Get a friend to help hold the ladder, if possible, to reduce chances of injury.

Having someone hand you tools while on a ladder can also greatly speed up the entire process and make it more enjoyable.

Always follow best practices while working on an elevated surface, especially if you working on gutters on the second story.

Step 2: Remove Gutter Spikes (optional)

To install the new hidden hanger brackets, first you need to remove the old spike and ferrule brackets.

If the gutter spike is already sticking out, you use the hammer to hook under the head of the spike, similar to a nail, and pry it out. If your gutter spikes are already loose, it won’t take too much force to remove them.

If you find a spike that is still fully in place and you can’t get your hammer underneath the nail, you can hit the inside of the spike close to the fascia to jar it loose. It might take a bit of force to remove the spike this way.

Keep in mind, you don’t have to remove spikes. You can simply install a hidden hanger without removing the spike and ferrule brackets.

Most homeowners like how hidden hangers are completely hidden, so by leaving the spikes installed, you might mess with the “look” of the new brackets. But that is ultimately up to you and how much effort you want to put into this project.

If you are having trouble removing the gutter spikes, it may be easier to climb on the roof to remove them. But if you’re gutter spikes are already loose, it should be easy enough to do from a ladder.

Step 3: Adjust Pitch of your Gutters

Now that your gutter spike is removed, now is a great time to look at the angle or pitch of your gutters. You want to make sure they are angled properly so the water that enters your gutters is sent down the downspouts to be directed away from your home.

You can adjust the pitch of your gutters by using a level.

Start by placing the level against the gutters to see the current pitch. Then angle the gutters so that the bubble is directly in the middle of the level, or completely flat.

Next, ever so slightly offset the level so the gutters have a small angle to them. You don’t want to overdo this. The bubble in the level should be barely offset from the center. Otherwise you’re gutters will look crooked from the street view if they are pitched too aggressively (and nobody wants that).

Once you have the right pitch, move onto the next step.

Step 4: Attach Hangers and Screw Into Fascia

With your hidden hangers in your hands, you want to “scoop” the hanger under the lip of the gutter so that it can hold your gutter up. The hanger does not attach to the gutter with any screws or nails, it simply gets pushed under the inside lip of the gutter.

Then press the other side of the bracket into the fascia where it will hold the gutter at the proper pitch. Once you have located the correct placement of the hanger, screw it into the fascia with your electric screwdriver until snug.

Now you can let go of the gutter and give it a nice shake to determine if it’s firmly attached. If you fascia is rotting or worn down, you may find it difficult to keep the gutters in place. Otherwise, you are good to go onto the next bracket.

Step 5: Repeat for Each Bracket

Repeat steps #1-4 for each bracket. Make sure to move the ladder when necessary so you aren’t putting yourself at risk by reaching far for the next bracket.

The general rule of thumb with hidden hanger brackets is to place them every 2 feet apart or 24″. They will usually get placed closer than spike and ferrule.

Once all of the brackets are in place, you get to enjoy the benefits of your upgraded gutters! They should look better from the curb without the spikes poking out and the brackets should be completely hidden now.

Plus you get to rest easy knowing that your gutters will last longer and will remain functional for longer.

Why are your Gutter Spikes Loose?

clogged gutters that will lead to ceiling leaks
image via canva.com

You may be wondering, what even causes the gutter spikes to come loose? Is there any way to avoid this from happening, well… yes and no.

Gutter spikes can come loose for a variety of reasons. The most common being natural wear and tear, the changes in climate over the different seasons cause your fascia and spikes to expand and contract, leading them to slowly slip out of place. Other things can increase the rate at which the spikes slip out too, such as weighed down gutters from leaves or mud, a build up of ice and snow, or clogged gutters full of water.

Either way, gutter spikes need to be rehammered in or replaced with hidden hangers as soon as possible to maintain proper functionality of your gutters. Otherwise your gutters can begin to sag and lead to issues such as water overflowing, water getting behind your gutters, and accelerated wear and tear of your home.

Natural Wear and Tear

Between the blistering heat of the summer and the ice cold winters, you home goes through a lot. And your gutters are no different. Your gutters are responsible for taking the brunt of the water that hits your home.

In the winter, the weather gets extremely cold, cause the fascia to shrink and your gutter spikes to shift. Then when the hot summer comes around, your fascia will begin to expand, causing your spikes to move some more. Repeat this process over several decades and even perfectly installed gutter spikes will begin to slip out.

To fix this issue, the gutter spikes will need to be fixed to avoid more slipping. In a worse case scenario, your gutters could even fall of your home and damage your windows, siding, landscaping, or even people nearby.

Fascia Is Rotting

A common cause for gutter spikes falling out is the fascia rotting. Your fascia is the wooden boards along your roofline that the gutters attach to.

The fascia is a treated board of wood to protect it from water damage, but if exposed to enough water, it can still rot.

This can happen if your gutters aren’t installed correctly or your roof has not been replaced in a long time. When your fascia begins to rot, its structural integrity begins to falter.

So the gutter spikes that are hammered into the fascia will begin to slip out as the rot develops.

If you are experiencing a rotting fascia, you will need to remove your gutters and repair your fascia. Then reinstall the gutters once again.

Snow and Ice Buildup

In the harsh winters, you may get a big buildup of snow and ice on your gutters. This will place extra weight on your gutters and increase the rate at which your gutter spikes come out.

In the winter, it can be a good idea to keep your gutters and roof clear of snow and ice to increase the longevity of your home and gutters.

Nobody wants to have to rehammer their gutter spikes every year.

Leaves and Debris

If your home is located around a lot of trees, in the fall your gutters can easily get clogged.

Leaves are the kryptonite to your gutters. With enough leaf fall, your gutters and downspouts become backed up and no longer work properly. The weight from the buildup of leaves, mud, and water are enough to cause your gutters to sag and fall out of alignment.

It’s recommended to regularly clean your gutters twice a year to avoid these types of issues.

Shingle Grit

Shingles get installed onto your roof to protect your home from water. They are responsible for pushing the water down your roof and into your gutters. With enough time, rain, and intense weather, the grit on top of your shingles can fall off and end up in your gutters.

Over enough time, this shingle grit can build up and add weight to your gutters.

Mix in some leaves, maybe some snow, and boom, your gutters are too heavy and the spikes begin to slip out.

Get in Touch with a Contractor Today

If you notice your gutter spikes are slipping out and you want to fix your gutter system, you can always reach out to a contractor instead of handling the project yourself.

Not everyone has the time, expertise, or tools on hand to climb up a ladder and fix their gutters. By speaking with a professional, you can get a better idea of the scope of your project along with finding out hidden issues with your home (such as a rotting fascia).

The contractor can also advise you on the best way to handle the project.

If you do want to work with a contractor, it’s always a good idea to get multiple quotes and opinions on your home, so you are well-informed and you trust the contractor you choose for your project.

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