Rain gutters are a very important part of your home. It diverts water from sitting around the foundation and causing it to weaken or crumble. When properly maintained, they protect the roof of the house too, allowing water to flow off and away from the roofing materials so they do not rot. At some point in time, you are probably going to need to replace the gutters and here are a few signs that tell you that the time is now.
Take the time to walk around your house, spraying water into the gutters. Inspect the underside of the gutters to see if they are leaking. Also, check the side of the building just where the gutter meets it to see if any water is coming from behind the gutters. If there are cracks, the gutters will leak. Unfortunately, not all cracks are easily visible unless you can see the water flowing. If you do not want to use a hose and spray into the gutters you could always just wait until it rains.
While watching for leaks, be sure to check any seams. Make sure that the pieces fit tightly together and that the connecting piece is situated correctly. While you could possible repair a bad seam, if the problem has gone unnoticed, there might be some rust in the area.
If you notice rusty areas you can attempt to paint over them with a rust-killing/proofing material if the areas are small. However, if they are on a seam, or cover big areas, it is best to replace the damaged sections. Rust can cause whole pieces to fall down, which could injure someone or damage something.
If you see any of the wood for the roof is beginning to rot, you need to have the edges of the roof repaired and then the gutters replaced. You may be able to use the same gutter pieces, but be sure that they are not bent or damaged. Even a small dent can have the paint chipping away so that the metal is exposed. This will allow rust to settle in and start damaging the piece further.
Rain gutters should never be taken for granted. They are not just a cosmetic piece of your home or there to keep you from getting wet while it is raining and you are the door trying to get the key into the lock. Keep them clean and free of debris. If you notice they are starting to look rough, have them replaced. The good they do for your home is well worth the cost.