Gutters are used to control a large quantity of water that is usually focused in one location on the roof. The rain water is lowered to the ground in a controlled manner to keep it from penetrating the soil around the foundation of a home. Installing a gutter system essentially protects your foundation from constant rain damage. The water then travels through a pipe, splash blocks or gravel to a safe location that doesn’t damage the area around your home.
Gutters are essentially a sealed water trough that is aesthetically pleasing. It mounts to the fascia board on the front of the eave of a home, just under the shingle edge. They capture all the water that runs off your eaves and channels them to an outlet. The outlet is then connected to a downspout, which is a pipe that runs down the wall to the ground. At that point the water lands on a plash block, or goes into underground drain pipe.
A corner piece for a gutter system. Used as a transitional piece for turning corners. Also used for connecting gutters on the inside or outside corner of a house where the home turns from one direction to another.
A raised flat panel that is placed on the inside corner of a building. Splash guards prevent rainwater from shooting over the gutter system in the corners.
Outlets are the sections of gutter where the water is tilted to the lowest point near where the water is designed to exit. A hole is cut in the gutter and an outlet is placed where the water is then channeled down the downspout.
The downspout goes down the wall to either another elbow that transitions on to a splash block, or straight into a PVC or corrugated black pipe. These pipes connect the downspout to an underground drain system.
Along the gutter trough there are hidden hangers or gutter spikes and ferrules that mount the gutter to the wall. Using hidden hangers with inch and a half zinc plated screws are the best way to install a seamless gutter system.
Downspouts begin with an S section at the gutter coming out of the outlet and turning back to a wall. Usually considered an A series, elbows create the S section down to an A elbow at the bottom. This is also known as a standard or an alternative series for different types of installation on the wall.
Brackets are mounted to the wall at the top and near the bottom to mount the downspout to the wall. Sometimes these are hidden or they can be visible and decorative. A lot of people use copper brackets for decoration.
Underground drain components consist of the transitional coupler from downspout to underground pipe. Usually underground pipe is made of a black corrugated, round, four inch material. It can also be a four inch or three inch PVC piping.
A solid corrugated pipe usually runs from the downspout to the drain exit point. Usually there will be a coupler at the downspout and then a pop up emitter valve at the end. This is true whether you’re using corrugated or PVC.
The answer to this question is mainly determined by the condition of your gutters. Ultimately the lifespan of a gutter system is around 20 years. If a system has been up for 20 years, there are many components that may be failing. Even if the system is intact it may be past the point of repair. An evaluation of the overall health of your gutters should be made to draw this distinction.
Start by checking for leaks near end caps, transitional sections where the gutters turn corners and near the miters. Sagging dents or dips in a gutter system may need to be replaced as they are really hard to repair. The finish of the gutter system may also be aged, peeling, cracking. All of these things should be taken into account when considering a total replacement of your gutter system.
In a situation where you’re dealing with a new home or an older home that does not have a gutter system, determining what components are needed is important. You will need to know what to actually shop for, have estimated and ultimately installed on your home. These factors should be based on the overall area around your home and how well it responds to rainwater. The architectural design of the roof will also play a role in how water is dumped around your home during a rainstorm.
High peak homes with lots of valleys and corners and sharp architectural designs on the front of the home can cause massive water flow in concentrated areas. The water falling off these homes can penetrate through landscape beds in a matter of one rainstorm. The water can actually disintegrate concrete and masonry steps. For this reason, steep architectural valleys in short distances calls for a high volume six inch gutter or larger to handle those areas.
In order to prevent rain damage, most every home will need downspouts. A general rule of thumb except in high volume areas, would be to install one downspout per 40 foot of linear gutter trough or 1200 square feet of roof area. A lot of times people add downspouts just for visual aesthetics. Sometimes people add two downspouts to a section just to visually balance the front of a home.
Most homes could actually work on less downspouts just making sure each section of gutter has one. Water doesn’t turn corners very well, so an L section will be needed. One section should be five foot long and the other 20. It’s more ideal to place the downspout in the longer run where the higher volume of water would be. When calculating the location of your downspouts, place one in the longer section, if not in both.
Underground drains are usually necessary in a flat yard situation. If water is running back to the foundation you will also need one. An example would be a home sitting downhill from the yard that’s around it. In a flat situation, water will just come out of a downspout and land right near the foundation, so it’s necessary to channel it to a safe eight to 10 feet away.
A downspout drain kit, which is approximately 10 feet of pipe with a pop up valve, is ideal for establishing safe water exit distance from your foundation. If your home has a nice steep grade around it, a splash guard will suffice.
If you are going to be living in your home for several years, you are going to want to pick a company that has been around for a while and will be here into the future. Gutters are a functioning system that works almost every day of the year. Finding a company that can install and maintain your gutter system for you year round is ideal.
Consider a company’s bad reviews to see if the negative aspects of a company are actually tolerable. Reading good reviews is of course also a good idea. Ultimately, most people follow the principle of getting three estimates and comparing the bids against each other. Communicating in a professional manner is something that you would look for. Make sure the bid fits your budget and the product or service provided is what you are looking for.
In order to have your gutter system properly installed, you need a solid fascia board or rafter tails to mount your gutters to. Gutters must be secured to a solid surface in order for them to hold the high weight of rainwater. Water can weigh from six to eight pounds per gallon and a single foot of five inch gutter can hold one gallon of water. One foot of six inch gutter can hold almost two gallons of water which is almost double the capacity.
Weight pulling on your fascia boards can cause them to pull off if they weren’t installed properly. A painted surface in case the roofing system or anything fails, will protect you from rotten wood issues. If there was a gutter failure for an extended period of time or the gutter was left full of debris, it can be protected by the painted surface.
To prevent rain damage, gutter maintenance is key. Even in a situation where there’s no leaves or debris, you can have dirt residue, shingle grit, neighborhood toys, golf balls, tennis balls, or dog toys. Things of this nature can actually get in your system, so maintaining a good view of the inside of your gutters annually is important.
In a situation where there are trees, brush, shrubs, or any kind of canopy, you need to clean the gutters out after the first major leaf fall. Clean them again in the spring before summer starts. Another thorough cleaning of all sediment and grit for this type of system should be done every three years.
A good rule of thumb is the square footage of your house times $0.75 – $1. This estimate would likely cover most gutter systems. However, gutters are not actually calculated in this way. They are calculated in linear feet and by how many downspouts or feet of downspout material that will be needed.
Leaf guards usually fall between $0.45 per square foot up to $1, depending on which company you use. There are some really high end companies that have patents on a product that are proprietary. Some are almost a novelty item, that’s just hit the market or they are the newest and best, that will be exponentially higher. Some of these high end products work good for the first year or two but actually have a really high maintenance and fail rate.
Maintenance can run anywhere from $70 to $1,000 a year. Cost can depend a lot on the size of the home. A good rule of thumb is about $1 per linear foot for cleaning most gutter systems. What type of gutter guards or underground drain systems you have, the amount of leaves, or the height of your home are all factors in calculating gutter cleaning.
How to protect your home from rain damage is to install a better system. You want a system that fits your home, has great downspout placement, a good leaf guard system and carries the water to a safe location. Purchasing this at a good price, good value is always ideal, but ultimately making sure that the gutter system matches the architectural design of your home is the goal. Your gutter system needs to be designed appropriately to handle the water volume that the home is demanding.