Gutter Installation: When to Know It’s Time for an Upgrade

Gutter Installation: When to Know It’s Time for an Upgrade

Plumbing
Small Projects and Repairs
By Mateos Glen Hayes September 28, 2022

Every home needs rain gutters; they’re an important part of the construction of any house. They protect your home by preventing water from pooling and damaging the outside walls and landscaping, so for most homes throughout the country, gutters are absolutely essential to keep everything in good working order. Water has a way of causing a lot of damage if it is not kept in check. Without proper channels where water can go, regular rains can erode away a home’s foundation, make your property swampy, and even cause long-term roof and basement damage.

Without gutters, you can easily run into some very expensive problems in the long run. Fortunately, gutters are pretty good at doing their job and are easy and affordable to buy and install. While it is certainly possible to do the gutter replacement yourself, it is easier to get a certified contractor to do the installation for you. A contractor specialized in gutter installation can be a great help in deciding just what will be needed to get the right gutter, as well as determine what optional components are necessary. 

For instance, a house that doesn't have any nearby trees will have no need for a leaf screen. One of the great luxuries of life is choice, so let’s explore the options you have for your gutters installation and maintenance. 

Gutter Contractor VS. DIY Installation

Professional installation is almost always the easier route to take.

Professional installation is almost always the easier route to take.

There are distinct benefits and downsides to hiring a licensed contractor or doing your gutters yourself. To decide what works for you, it’s best to balance these benefits and consider your own skills and needs. A good rule of thumb, if you don’t have DIY experience, is to go with a contractor. Gutter installation isn’t particularly difficult, but it is labor intensive and needs to be done with some precision. Properly installed modern rain gutters can boost your curb appeal and therefore give your home’s value a nice bump. But, if incorrectly installed, rain gutters can cause serious issues instead of improving your home. 

Installing rain gutters is also an inherently dangerous job since you are working at heights for hours at a time. Mistakes can lead to gutters that aren’t properly secured or balanced, and nobody wants to end up with a damaged roof or leaky gutters. So, if your main goal is just to save a few bucks, a pro is the best way to go as you’ll avoid spending extra on correcting problems. 

Going With a Gutter Pro 

Have safety in mind with professionally installed rain gutters covered by warranty and built to last.

Have safety in mind with professionally installed rain gutters covered by warranty and built to last.

The biggest general plus to hiring a contractor for gutter installation is that it makes your life easier. Anyone who has ever had to deal with building permits and codes knows that violations are a costly and time-consuming mistake. An experienced contractor will know what the rules are and how to keep your home in compliance throughout the gutter replacement process.

Professional gutter installers will also know what kind of gutters your house needs and which materials are best for your price range. They will also be well-versed in installing gutters and know what to do to make every job a success. In some cases, professionally installed rain gutters are even covered by warranty, so you’ll have recourse in the unlikely event that something goes wrong.

A gutter installer will also know what to do to mitigate the chance of damage. Diligent gutter contractors check the home prior to gutter installation for any water damage so that any potential problem can be nipped in the bud before it has a chance to grow. Gutter installers also have a set of tools that allow them to properly balance gutters, ensuring that your rain gutters do not leak and do not cause water damage to your house. All of these checks are essential for your rain gutters to work properly and keep your home free of mold

How to DIY Install Gutters 

DIY gutter installation is certainly possible, but it can be technically challenging if you do not have much experience.

DIY gutter installation is certainly possible, but it can be technically challenging if you do not have much experience.

If you still would rather install gutters yourself, there are two main questions worth considering beforehand. Firstly, how do you feel working on a ladder? If you aren’t comfortable being on the ladder due to a fear of heights or balance issues, gutter replacement is definitely one to avoid since you will be at least two stories off the ground while you work.

Secondly, are you good at taking measurements and working with precision? The answer to this question is going to depend on the previous DIY experience you’ve had. If you’ve had to install a door or balance a counter you’ve probably have a good idea of what is needed in principle. Another useful consideration when installing gutters is whether you have the required tools. Aside from a ladder, you will also need a power drill, tin snips, a hex head driver, a rivet gun, and a crimper.

Planning is essential to pulling off DIY gutter installation without a snag. That means taking measurements of where the gutters will go and ensuring that your new gutters are the correct length. It is also critical that you pay close attention to the manufacturer's recommended specifications for proper installation. Each gutter may have slightly different requirements for balancing and crimping and these need to be followed to the letter to avoid problems.

Gutter Installation Options 

Gutters installed under trees can make good use of leaf screens as these keep out most tree debris.

Gutters installed under trees can make good use of leaf screens as these keep out most tree debris.

Whether you are in the market for gutter installation or gutter replacement, you will need to know what options are available. There are two basic parts to a gutter, the channel and the downspout. The channel is the trough that goes along the side of the roof to carry the water, while the downspouts spill the gathered water into a specific place. A gutter comes in various forms and can be made out of different materials as well.

Gutter Sizes 

Channels can be four to six inches in width, while downspouts come in three sizes: small, medium, and large. The larger sizes are more expensive, not only because they take more material, but because they are more efficient. Wide channels and downspouts are less likely to clog.

Although the function is more important than form in this case, gutter styles can offer aesthetic accenting to your home’s design.

Although the function is more important than form in this case, gutter styles can offer aesthetic accenting to your home’s design.

Gutter Shapes 

There are two basic forms for a gutter to take, namely U-style and K-style gutters. U-style gutters are considered outdated as their design makes them less efficient at removing water when compared to newer designs. Because they are also higher cost, both to install and maintain, their main appeal is in aesthetics as they can give a house the “classic” look. 

K-style gutters are the current industry standard and the most popular gutter style on the market today. They are also more durable, more cost-effective, and better functioning as their design allows for increased gutter capacity. To top it off, K-style gutters are also easy to install.

Wooden gutters look good, but they are one of the most expensive gutter materials.

Wooden gutters look good, but they are one of the most expensive gutter materials.

Materials 

Wood is a beautiful option, but this material is more likely to be affected by the elements. Wood gutters are also more expensive to buy and install, and will cost more in upkeep on average. Steel gutters are by far the most durable, but they are also the most expensive. The most ideal materials for the perfect balance of cost and durability are vinyl and aluminum. 

Proper Gutter Maintenance

K-style gutters require less maintenance and work more efficiently than U-style gutters.

K-style gutters require less maintenance and work more efficiently than U-style gutters.

There is more to a gutter than just installing them. They have to be kept up as well. A well-maintained gutter system will not only keep the house in better shape but make it more valuable on the whole.

Clean Your Gutters Regularly 

Inspect and clean the gutters every spring and autumn. Leaf screens may be necessary if there are any trees nearby as trees make it necessary to clean the gutters more often. If a gutter gets clogged and filled with debris, this will cause a backlog of water that can cause major damage to your roof and your gutters.

Check For Damage Regularly 

Several seasons' worth of rain and rough weather can really do a number on your gutters. Chipped paint, rust, holes, and other wear and tear make your rain gutters less effective and therefore less safe. These are reasons to call a gutter professional. Such problems may require gutter replacement and should be repaired immediately before they become worse.

Damaged gutters have reduced effectiveness and can cause significant damage if they are not promptly repaired.

Damaged gutters have reduced effectiveness and can cause significant damage if they are not promptly repaired.

Don’t Forget The Downspouts 

The downspouts also need to be checked, just like the channels. They can also become clogged and the gutters will fill up with water instead of shedding it. This can damage the gutter from the weight of the water. Severe damage from clogging might even require gutter replacement. Additionally, pests such as mosquitoes and other yucky insects are attracted to standing water or moist places, so be sure to promptly address any leakage or seepage you discover.

MG

Written by
Mateos Glen Hayes

Written by Mateos Glen Hayes

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