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Gutter Replacement 101

Gutter Replacement 101

Your gutters have a job that’s simultaneously very hard and extremely important. They capture and divert water away from your house and driveway so that they’re safe from damage and from pooling water. Gutters also protect the soil around your home by keeping rain from eroding it away or saturating it to the point where it drowns your plants. A good, functional gutter system is like a 24-hour bodyguard for your house.

There may come a time, though, where your gutters just aren’t up to the task anymore and will need to be replaced. You DIY lovers out there will be thrilled to hear that you can install new ones yourself if you don’t want to have someone come out and do it for you. We can tell you everything you need to know to safely replace your gutters – from what kind will work best for you to how to gauge the effectiveness of gutter guards.

What is the Average Life Expectancy of a Gutter System?

On average, gutters can last anywhere from 20 to 50 years. Of course, that depends heavily on what material the gutters are made of and how well you’ve taken care of them. This means that typically, gutter repair is usually only something people that have either purchased an older home or have been living in their home for decades need to be concerned about.

How Can I Tell If My Gutters Need Replacing?

You can check over your gutters by walking around your house on a clear day and performing a cursory inspection. Look for signs of wear like sagging, splitting, or holes. People with galvanized steel gutters should be on the lookout for rusted over areas in particular. Washed-out landscaping, peeling paint, and loose fasteners are hints that your gutters aren’t in top condition as well.

An even better test of how well off your gutters are, though, is to examine them in the rain. Walk around your house while they’re working and assess them for leaks at the bottom and overflows at the top. If your gutters are working properly, any water should flow out of the downspouts with no issues.

How Do I Ensure I’m Choosing the Right Gutters?

Location, Regulations, and Curb Appeal
Selecting the proper gutters for your home requires you to consider a number of things; for starters, you might be restricted in what type of gutters you’re allowed to have. Historic areas and neighborhoods that are deed-restricted tend to have strict regulations on what kind of gutters you can attach to your home.

If location regulations aren’t a concern then, there’s always your personal curb appeal to take into consideration as well. You’ll want to pick something that works with your home’s color scheme and style.

Materials

Vinyl
There are different types of materials to choose from too. Vinyl gutters are a fine choice for gutter systems and are among the most popular. These are easy to install due in part to how lightweight they are and they easily snap together. They aren’t prone to rust and are simple to DIY install.

Vinyl gutters may not be the best choice for people that live in colder climates though as the lower temperatures can make them brittle, so they’re liable to crack. Proper installation is a must too if they aren’t attached to your house correctly, water can gather in select spots instead of flow away as it should.

Aluminum
Aluminum gutters are also lightweight and on the easier side of installation as well. There are aluminum gutters that are rustproof and unlike vinyl, they won’t become problematic in the cold. Aluminum allows for greater customization, as well, as you can just paint over them with whatever color you wish. You can even get seamless models.

One con of aluminum gutters is that they are easy to bend or dent so you have to be careful with your steps and ladders if you’re going up to do roof work. If you’re going for this type of gutter, go for primary aluminum as it is made of tougher material than the recycled kind.

Stainless Steel
Stainless steel is a popular choice for a reason – they’re durable and rustproof. But they’re also on the pricier end as far as gutters go. If you’re willing to spend the money on them, they’re a solid investment.

Other Material Options
Copper gutters, if well maintained, can last upwards of 50 years. They’re pricier than stainless steel, however. Wooden gutters are much the same way. They’re a viable option but are an expensive purchase. Copper and wood are usually choices that people restoring older, historic homes opt for to maintain the look and feel of their residences.

Gutter Shape and Model

Half-Round and K-Shape gutters don’t have much bearing on the material that you can use, but the models – seamless and sectional – do. K-Shape gutters have a more hearty build and are able to carry away more water than their Half-Round counterparts so if you live somewhere where heavy rainfall is an issue, you may want to consider K-Shape gutters. Like we said before, model type really does matter. If you have a preference for seamless gutters, aluminum is your only option as it’s the only kind of seamless gutter that’s available.

Are Gutter Guards Worth the Money?

A gutter guard (or screen) is like a shield that serves to keep debris (leaves, seeds, acorns, twigs, animal feces) from blocking the gutters. In theory, it sounds like a really good idea to invest in some as they’ll keep you from having to clean your gutters very often, but the reality is quite different. Often, leaves and other kinds of litter can bypass the gutter guards and still end up clogging your gutters.

There are curved guards that are meant to keep debris from piling up, but this doesn’t prevent it from forming into a kind of pseudo dam against the raised part of the guard. Gutter guards aren’t super effective in preventing moss and algae build up either; as long as there’s moisture and bits of leaf in the gutters, it will be able to grow.

Perhaps the most irritating thing about gutter guards, though, is that they don’t even lessen the amount that you’ll have to clean your gutters. They can even make cleaning them more difficult as they can actually get in your way. While gutter guards aren’t useless, per se, they probably aren’t worth the extra money you’d spend on them in the long run.

We hope this guide to gutter replacement serves you well in deciding if it’s time for new ones and what kind you’ll decide to outfit your home with. If there’s something that you’d like to add about your experiences with gutters, tell us all in the comments. Remember to choose wisely and stay safe while making any repairs and upgrades to your homes!

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