Gutters play an important role in keeping your home structurally sound by directing water away from the foundation of the home. However, for gutters to function correctly, they require a slight slope, called a pitch, which causes rainwater to flow to the downspouts. Since gutters settle as screws and brackets loosen, it's a good idea to periodically check the pitch of the gutters and adjust them if needed.
How to Check Your Gutter Measurements
If you have a length of gutter that is more than 35 feet long, the center point should be the highest elevation and each side should pitch down toward the downspouts on either end.
To get started, measure the side of the house directly under the gutter to determine its length in feet. Multiply the number of feet by 1/16 inch to determine the total slope the gutter requires. For example, if the gutter is 16 feet long, the end near the down spout must be 1 inch lower than the starting end.
Next, place a ladder at the left side of the house, and measure from the roof down to the gutter. Note the measurement, as you will need it later. Then slide the ladder to the other end of the gutter, and measure down from the roof to the gutter. Measure down 1 inch past the first measurement, and mark it with a pencil.
Adjusting Your Gutters
To remove your gutters, loosen the screws that hold the gutter brackets using a screwdriver until the gutter detaches from the side of the house. Pull the end of the gutter free from the downspout, if needed.
Snap a chalk line to mark along the top of the gutter. The chalk line should extend from the top left side of the gutter to the pencil mark you left. This guide will help you adjust the gutter height. It helps to have another person assist with this part of the process.
Replacing Your Gutters
Once you've finished your measurements, replace the gutter by laying it back up against the house. Align the top edge of the gutter with the chalk line. Re-secure all of the brackets and screws that you had removed to attach the gutter to the house once again. Finally, reinsert the end of the gutter into the downspout.
Test the pitch of your reinstalled gutter by turning on a garden hose and directing the water into the farthest part of the gutter from the downspout. Watch the water to ensure it begins to flows down toward the downspout. If you don't have a garden hose, you can test the pitch using a bucket of water. If the water does not flow properly, tweak the orientation and placement of your gutters until it does.
Kimberly Johnson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in various online publications including eHow, Suite101 and Examiner. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and began writing professionally in 2001.