If your gutters are rusty, leaky or bent out of shape, it may be time to invest in a new gutter system. But where to begin? Most homeowners would rather spend their weekends doing just about anything other than researching gutters, so we spoke with Eric Wales, owner of Dallas Gutter & Repair, who lent his expertise to answer the most common questions that homeowners have about gutter installation.
What are the most important things to keep in mind when having gutters installed?
Invest in an adequate system, make sure it’s installed correctly, and get a good warranty. As far as installation goes, there are three huge points that you need to look at when you are investing in a gutter system. The first two are standards that many companies do not follow. Your supports should be two feet apart, and the back of the gutter should be behind the roof flashing so that water does not leak between the gutter and the fascia board. Finally, always use oversized downspouts.
What features or upgrades do you recommend on a gutter system?
Whether you have an old system or you are buying a new system, the huge plus for gutters is oversized downspouts. I cannot talk about them enough. Water weighs around eight pounds per gallon. Even if your gutters are clean, you’ve got a lot of weight in them during the rain. Excess weight can cause gutters to sag, pull away from the house, or become bent. Over-sized downspouts drain much faster and don’t clog as easily.
Some people worry that they will be big and ugly, but standard downspouts are two inches by three inches, and oversized downspouts are three by four. They are only an inch wider each way, but if you do the math, you are doubling the square inches of outlet.
Homeowners can be notoriously neglectful of their gutters. How often do I really need to clean out my gutters?
People ask me that all the time and here is how I explain it: If you clean your gutters today and blow the leaves off of your patio or yard, the next time you see leaves out there, there are leaves in the gutters again. So people should clean their gutters as often as there is debris in them. It wouldn’t hurt to have them cleaned out by a professional once a year, because the professional can look for other issues like leaking corners or a loose gutter.
If I want my gutters to be as maintenance free as possible, what should I invest in?
If you have trees, you just want good leaf protection. So when you really want to cut your maintenance down to a minimum, look at some decent screen choices. There are some screens out there that have a no-clog warranty. Beyond that, look into solid-top technology. Those have a curved bullnose, so when the water reaches that nose, it will actually wrap around due to surface tension and go into the opening, while the debris falls to the ground.
Which gutter materials are going to last the longest?
While steel is theoretically the strongest metal, it will eventually rust no matter what you do. Copper and aluminum don’t rust. With a good install and a little maintenance, copper and aluminum gutters can last for decades. Some people have the misconception that aluminum gutters are like Coke cans. However, they are typically a good 0/027 gauge; up North, a 0.032 gauge is more common because of the snow loads.
Should I have sectional or seamless gutters installed?
Hardly anyone buys sectional gutters anymore. With seamless gutters, your only leak potentials are in the corners, but with sectionals you have more leak potential. Also, it is a little more time consuming to install sectionals. If you have the newest technology in gutter machines, you can run almost any metal through them to make seamless gutters.
Do certain gutter shapes perform better than others?
It is my opinion that the K-style and the box gutters (do we do these still?) are going to perform better than the half-round gutters because the capacity is greater. However, half-round gutters are very popular in the Dallas area. We install many half-round gutters and have no complaints.
Do gutters come pre-painted, and will I be able to find colors to match my home?
Aluminum gutters come in a wide variety of colors. It is rare not to find a workable match for your home. Fortunately, these gutters can also be painted over if you change the color of the house.
Should I figure out where my downspouts need to go?
The gutter professional needs to decide where the downspouts go, but typically, they are placed at the outside corners of the house. It is also recommended that an additional downspout be placed in the middle of long runs.
Do I need splash blocks or other accessories?
A splash block’s only function is to break the impact of water coming out of an elbow at the base of a downspout. If you have a bordered flower bed or some other reason to get that water further away, then typically you would install a downspout extension. Most routing can be done with downspout extensions, but properties that are really flat or that slope back toward the house may require underground drainage.
Why should I invest in rain gutters?
The comfort of being able to enter and exit your home without getting soaked is the most obvious reason for getting rain gutters, but the advantages so much further than simple convenience. Let’s start from the bottom.
Properly installed rain gutters will direct rain water run off away from the building’s foundation where it may leak into the basement, or cause damage to the foundation itself, by causing it to heave or settle.
Rain gutters will prevent damage to landscaping, steps, decks, and walkway pavers by eliminating the “sheet” of water that falls from your roof-line. The damage caused to siding, doors, thresholds and garage doors due to splash-back can be eliminated with a properly installed rain gutter system.
The next benefit, until recently, has been harder to recognize. When most people picture rain gutters, they see the old galvanized gutter with rusty bottoms and hanging sections, or plastic sectional gutters with pieces missing and leaking seams. Now, with the help of the seamless gutter machine, gutters can now add to the look as well as the value of your home.
Investing in an adequate gutter system with the right company can save a lot of headache and maintenance over the years. Periodic maintenance along with a good gutter system can keep your home safe from foundation problems, erosion, wood rot, and pest infestations. With Eric’s expert tips in mind, you will have a head start to getting the right fit for your home.