Gutters, a wondrous invention that homeowners seldom think about until they fail and cause headaches. These simple pieces of galvanized steel, aluminum, and copper act as a crucial part of your home’s weather-protection system.

Properly installed and maintained gutters prevent costly problems from happening to your home like water damage, rotting interior walls, basement flooding, and exterior issues such as ruined landscaping, sinkholes, or worse. If you’re not sure whether or not you need a gutter replacement, here are 7 definite signs they should be.

1. Cracks & Holes

Cracks and holes may be temporarily patched if you know what you’re doing; however, this is a sign the gutter should be replaced soon. These small cracks and holes will eventually get bigger and allow more water to flow where it’s not supposed to. You may be able to replace the worst sections first and then continue replacing sections of the gutter as you’re able to afford them, but it’s an issue that should be dealt with immediately.

If you can do so safely don’t be afraid to break out a ladder and inspect the gutters up-close. You aren’t always able to see cracks or rust holes from the ground, and you could be overlooking some that are hidden. If you aren’t able to do so safely, contact a professional gutter installation company to thoroughly inspect.

2. Sagging or Pulling Away From Roof

This is one of the easiest ways to tell that you need gutter repairs or gutter replacement because you don’t need to be on a ladder to notice it. Gutters should never sag or pull away from the home. You can certainly try re-securing your gutters with new hangers, but if the problem persists between the roofline and gutters, it’s a sign your fascia boards may be rotting. You can replace fascia boards prior to replacing the gutters and resolve any sagging or pulling away.

Gutters pulling away from a home may also indicate that they may be too heavy, commonly due to being filled with pooling water. Water pools in gutters wherever there is a low-point (sagging) and can spill over the edges causing damage. A full gutter could also mean the gutter system may not be appropriate for the home, it’s draining improperly, or debris is causing a blockage.

3. Peeling Paint on Home

When your gutters aren’t working properly there are two places you can expect paint to begin peeling. Your gutters can start to peel and crack when they are weathered and worn, eventually giving way to rust and corrosion. If the paint is cracking or peeling on your home’s siding, fascia, soffit, or otherwise, water and moisture will penetrate those cracks and damage the integrity of your home. Repairing damaged paint and replacing your gutter system will ensure no further damage is done.

4. Pooling water

Gutters are designed with the purpose of keeping water flowing away from your home and your home’s foundation. Pooling or standing water is always a concern when in close proximity to your home, so making sure you’re fixing the issue is highly important.

Water may pool near your home causing mold, mildew, or even basement seepage, which are all difficult to deal with. Checking your gutters for clogs is the first step in fixing the situation as a clogged gutter system is notorious for allowing water to pool close to your home. If the problem isn’t simply a clog, it could be something more challenging to repair such as leaking seams, sagging, or pulling away from the home. In any case, it is likely your gutters need to be replaced.

5. Landscape Issues

Landscaping washouts are an obvious byproduct of excess water runoff either caused by a lack of drainage, uncommonly heavy amounts of rainfall, or the failure of gutters to move water away from your home. If you see landscaping materials being washed away after every rain or continually see standing rain in your flower beds, you may want to consider replacing your gutters.

Make sure your gutters aren’t causing the problem by leaking into your landscaping, or improperly draining into flower gardens. 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.

6. Rain Flowing Overtop Gutters

Sometimes it’s not so evident how or where your gutters are failing unless you actively look for signs. Grab a raincoat and see how your gutters perform when in action. If rain is flowing off of your roof and over your gutters there is an obvious adjustment that needs to be made. The gutter may not be the right size or style which would necessitate a replacement. If you cannot correct the problem by adjusting the pitch of the gutter, you may want to consider replacing with higher capacity.

7. Broken fasteners

Broken hangers are a sign your gutters are out of alignment or aren’t working in unison with the accessories that help them function properly. Replacing or adding new hangers may work, but if the problem persists, you may need to replace the gutter system. There are only a few reasons a hanger will fail, and most of them are directly related to a faulty system.