A properly installed gutter protection system can protect your home from serious damage year-round. Every serious home owner should know that old, damaged or defective gutters have the potential to cause damage to your home.
When gutters clog and the water is not diverted properly, it will overflow into either the house or the foundation. This can cause wood rot, foundation problems, ice damming, and landscaping erosion. Damages associated with clogged gutters are many, however, this fall you can avoid a great deal of expenses and unwanted hassles by installing a gutter protection system.
Gutter protection systems help keep basements and crawlspaces dry, protect siding and windows from harmful backsplash, and prevent staining and rotting the walls of your house. In addition to causing damage to your home, gutters clogged with soggy leaves and debris are also the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew, as well as mosquitoes and other pests who are known disease carriers.
So while they may not be flashy, gutters are an important feature of the home, which require a balance of practicality and aesthetics.
Styles of Gutters
Gutters come in various materials, sizes and colors, here is a rundown of each material option for different home owners and situations.
- Wood is the least popular because of its high maintenance and price.
- Vinyl is great for do-it-yourselfers and can be found at home-improvement centers.
- Aluminum gutters are the most common. Primary aluminum is the thickest and most consistent kind.
- Avoid secondary aluminum, a recycled product that’s often plagued by inconsistent thickness.
- Metal gutters are made in sheet metal shops and require gutter specialists to install them.
Types of Gutters
Sectional types are sold in 10ft. to 22ft. long pieces. Gutter sections are joined together by snap-in-place connectors. All sectional systems have end caps, corner pieces and drop outlets for connecting to downspouts. The negative to sectional systems is that there is a potential for leaks through the seams. One positive is that they can be installed by either the homeowner or by a professional installer.
Seamless gutters are the most popular type today. The biggest selling point is that they don’t have any seams which could potentially leak. The sections join only at inside and outside corners and at downspout outlets. Seam¬less gutters are usually formed from aluminum that has a baked-on finish, but they may be made from copper or factory-painted steel. They are made with a special machine that’s brought to your home by a gutter contractor. These types of gutters can not be installed by do-it-yourselfer’s.
Reasons to Replace Gutters
Every so often you may find that your gutters are in need of replacement. One way to prolong the life of gutters is with Gutter Guards, however, over the lifespan of your home, you may find the need to replace your gutters and here’s why:
- Clogged or leaky gutters are one of the biggest causes of basement leaks, mold and other foundation problems. Also, standing water in gutters is one of the common places mosquitoes breed – mosquitoes are known disease carriers. Old worn out gutters look ugly and reduce the value of your property.
- Your old gutters may have become bent or dented or may be pulling away from your property in a manner that they cannot just be reattached or reworked.
- Your old seamed gutters may have begun to pull apart or have drippy leaks and you would like to replace them.
- You want to change the color of your gutters.
- The drainage of your current guttering is not sufficient so you want to install a larger size gutter and downspout system. Most homes and commercial properties have 5 inch gutters with 2×3 downspouts, but we can install 6 inch gutters with 3×4 downspouts when necessary.
- According to experts, gutter cleaning for an average sized home containing 150 feet of gutters costs approximately $75, and should be cleaned twice a year. Over a 30 year period, the total cost would be $4500. By comparison, a lifetime lasting gutter protection system, at the price of $15 per foot, would only cost $2250 for the average sized home. This makes gutter cleaning twice as costly as having a covered gutter protection system installed. And this calculation doesn’t even count the cost of damage to a home that can be caused by sub-standard gutters.
How to Tell if Gutters are Draining Properly
If during a rainfall, you can hear the water slapping the ground, pouring over the sides of the gutter, there may be a blockage or the gutter itself may not be aligned evenly.
If you notice paint peeling or corroded wood that means the gutter is most likely clogged and is causing the water to overflow and run down the back of gutter along the exterior walls of the house. If you notice mold or if you see puddles of water forming around the outside of your house it’s a sure sign that there are drain¬age problems.
Glossary of Gutter Terminology
Downspout : A pipe that carries rainwater from a roof gutter down to a drain or to the ground.
Drip-Edge Extension : Prevents water from washing over the fascia eventually causing it to rot. If your fascia boards have black streaks on them, that usually means that the drip-edge is failing and the contractor may suggest adding an extension for an additional charge.
Fascia Angle : If there is any fascia board that is angled to follow the roof rafters, there is usually an extra charge.
Fascia Board : The flat horizontal surface right below the edge of a roof.
Fascia Replacement : New gutters need a solid fascia surface upon which to be mounted. If rotted boards need to be replaced, there is a charge per linear feet. Fascia boards narrower than 3″ in width must be built out to provide proper support for hanging your new gutters and require an additional charge per linear feet.
Gauge : The thickness or the gauge of the gutter is very important. Primary aluminum is the thickest and most consistent available. The gauges range from .019 to .032 inches. The optimal thickness is .032 inches so when buying aluminum gutters, insist on primary aluminum, which is the best.
Mitres (Corners) : When a company fabricates the corners onsite using the same material as the rest of the house, the advantage is that there is one seam instead of 3 and it’s a cleaner look overall.
Run Height : The height (in stories) at which each gutter run will be located (1st story, 2nd story etc.). This is used to determine the length of downspout needed.
Run Length : A straight section of gutter mounted against the fascia board. It is measured in linear feet, which measures the same as regular feet.
Seamless Gutter Machine : The chosen gutter material is rolled through the forming machine to create a continuous piece of gutter that is custom sized to your home.
A special thanks to Charlie McCurry of SKRoofing in Maryland for helping us compile the Ultimate Guide to Gutters & Downspouts.