Gutters are far more important to the structural integrity of your home than you might think. They carry rainwater and melting snow away from the house so you don’t have to deal with flooding, leaks, and even foundation damage. When your gutters aren’t working properly, it’s important to address the problem as soon as possible, which may mean cleaning them thoroughly, making repairs, or even replacing them entirely. Here are some signs that may indicate you need to replace the gutters entirely:

Sagging or otherwise pulling away from the house. Gutters that are sagging, coming away from the house, or bowing likely aren’t doing their job properly. This is one of the easiest warning signs to spot, since you can probably see this when you’re looking up from the ground. Most of the time, this occurs because the gutters are full of heavy water, which is a red flag that they’re not draining correctly.

Rust. While you may need to get up on a roof or ladder to see this warning sign, it’s worth taking a look because it’s a surefire sign you need new gutters. Rusting gutters will eventually get holes and cracks in them that will cause water to spill out before it gets to the end of the downspout. Aluminum gutters that won’t rust are becoming more and more popular, so that’s an option to consider when you’re getting your older, rusty gutters replaced.

Flooding basement. Gutters that aren’t working properly are the primary cause of basement floods. Because water in the basement can cause a huge hassle and many thousands of dollars worth of property damage, it’s a good idea to look at replacing your gutters as soon as possible if this is happening to you.

Water damage or marks on the outside of your home. Water that’s splattering on or running down the sides of your house will often leave a trace in the form of water stains, peeling paint, or even mold growth. If you see any of these signs on your exterior walls or directly underneath the gutters themselves, your gutters aren’t doing their job properly.

Splits and/or cracks. Even small cracks or splits in your gutters deserve immediate attention. Because of the force of running water, tiny cracks can quickly become bigger ones that will allow water to flow down the sides of your house. While small repairs can be done with specially designed gutter repair tape or roofing cement to keep the gutters operating, too many cracks or cracks that are too large to repair means it’s time to shop for new gutters.