Common Gutter Installation Mistakes
Gutters are a vital feature of your property, guiding water safely away from it and keeping your building free of water damage. The concept of gutter systems seems pretty simple at first, however, many DIYers find that there is much more that goes into installation than first meets the eye. What initially seems like a cost-effective decision can end up being much more expensive overall if repairs to the gutters are needed after installation or, even worse, improper installation results in water damage. Trusting professionals to install your gutters is generally a better choice. Here are common mistakes DIYers make when installing gutters.
Selecting the Appropriate Gutter Type
Gutter types vary in 3 main ways; material, profile and whether they have seams or are seamless. Determining which is right for your property can be tricky because each building is different and has different needs. Lets look at some of the variables of gutter types.
Steel – These gutters are very robust and are less prone to denting. They can come in a variety of forms, from galvanized (an added layer of zinc), stainless, or galvalume (coated with zinc and aluminum). While they are robust, once their protective layers are gone, steel is prone to rusting.
Copper – These gutters have a long-life span and a distinctive look. Because of this, they are often used on historic homes and properties. Copper is a very expensive material, so be prepared to shell out some serious bucks for outfitting your building with copper gutters.
Zinc – Similar to copper, zinc is a highly durable material (though not quite at the level of copper). It also develops a patina over time and is generally used in higher-end homes. This material is expensive and not DIY friendly, and it is also susceptible to corrosion from salt in the air or runoff from certain types of shingles.
Vinyl – Vinyl is both the cheapest and least durable material used in gutter installation. Although this material is DIY friendly, it will need replacement much more quickly than the other materials. Vinyl is prone to cracking and other damage from temperature, weather, and impacts.
Aluminum – This is the most common material used for gutters for a few reasons. The cost to benefit ratio is the highest for this material as it is cost effective and provides a good level of resilience to weathering and corrosion, it is light and won’t put stress on your fascia boards, and it’s durable.
Half Round – These gutters have a round bottom and are great for moving water. Generally found on older homes, these gutters have a couple drawbacks. First, they can form blockages from debris very easily and, second, they are not ideal for rainy climates like we have in the Pacific Northwest because they are shallow in relation to the other profiles.
K-Style – On one side these gutters have a decorative facing that resembles molding around floorboards of a house and on the other side they have a flat side that attaches easily and snugly to fascia boards. Homeowners and builders like this style because they look great, they work well and can be made on-site. They are ideal for rainy climates because they can hold and transport more water than the half round.
Fascia – These gutters are either fixed directly to the fascia boards or can act as the fascia board and gutter combined. They are generally custom built and usually requires professional installation. These gutters are very popular on the Pacific Northwest because can carry a large amount of water and they offer a seamless modern aesthetic.
Box – These gutters are generally used in commercial buildings and are larger sectional style gutters that are generally not appropriate for residential building due to their large size and proneness to collecting debris if below the tree line.
Traditionally gutters have seams where one piece connects to another. Seamless gutters are much more resilient to weathering and less likely to spring a leak. Seamless gutters are made from one piece of durable material, with joints only at corners and downspouts. Installation of seamless gutters needs to be done by a professional and is more expensive than sectional options.
Incorrect Hanger Spacing
This one depends on your local climate. Overall, you don’t want to space you hangers more than 3 feet apart, but in colder climates a good rule be a 2-foot max. Here in the Pacific Northwest, it rains quite a bit and we occasionally get snow, so leaning toward the 2-foot max may be ideal. Improper hanger spacing can result in sagging gutters and potentially a gutter collapse.
Although it may be difficult to tell at first glance, a properly installed gutter system has a slight angle that helps water drain toward downspouts. If gutters are installed without an angle, installed flat, then pooling will occur. Pooled water can cause your gutters to wear out much more quickly. If, on the other hand, the angle is too great, then water will move too quickly. This can cause water to splash over the sides of the gutter and onto your property. Repeatedly splashing on your siding can cause water damage, water pooling by your foundation can cause damage to it, and splashing water can damage your landscaping. Correct pitch is crucial to proper gutter installation.
Incorrect Gutter Dimensions
You want to match how large your gutters are to your local climate and environment. Smaller gutters can transport less water, but are also less prone to collecting debris. Larger gutters move more water, but have more space for debris to settle. Standard gutters for residential buildings are 5”x6”.
Properly placing and installing downspouts is essential to a well function gutter system. They need to work together with the pitch of your gutters to effectively drain water away from the building. You want to aim for moving water 8-10 feet from the foundation of your building, otherwise you risk water seeping into the ground to close to the building and damaging the foundation.
Your gutters are invaluable when it comes to protecting your building from the elements. With so many things to think about when it comes to installation, the better choice may be to hire the pros to install your gutters for you. This will give you peace of mind that the job was done right and potentially save you big bucks when it comes to future repairs.
SNUGS has the equipment and the expertise to help you with your gutter installation and maintenance needs, no matter what kind of property you are managing. Schedule regular cleanings and rest assured knowing your property is well taken care of. SNUGS has services available days, nights or weekends so you can schedule at your convenience.
Snugs Pro Wash, Inc, dba SNUGS Services, has been providing high quality Pressure Washing Services in Portland, OR since 1995. Started as a residential pressure washing and roof cleaning service, SNUGS is now one of the leading exterior cleaning companies in the Northwest. From our humble beginnings as a man with a truck and a trailer we have grown to become a multi-million dollar company serving corporate customers, name brands, and mom and pop companies alike.