Nationwide Gutter Services
05 Oct 2016

What to Know Before Hiring Gutter Installers

Proper sizing is key

Gutter installation is not rocket science, but it is something that does require some basic engineering.  A single run along the lower edge of a shed roof with a corner downspout is about as simple as it gets.  Homes with multiple roof lines, various degrees of pitch and multiple gables add a level of complexity that requires a plan. The key factor in developing this plan is to scale the system based on the square footage being served and factoring in your potential for heavy down pours.  The downpour factor is based on weather data and varies by region.  A 5 minute “burst” in Seattle is rated at only 2.1 inches per hour, while the same “burst” in Atlanta is 8.3 inches per hour.  A 5” K style gutter is rated to move about 5500 sq feet, while a 6” version can handle over 7500 sq feet. A Seattle roofer will install different gutters than a roofer in Atlanta. Knowing what Mother Nature can throw at you will allow you to plan accordingly.

Pitch and downspouts

Gutters make up half of the roof’s collection system. The downspouts make up the rest.  Sizing here also can make the system perform properly.  A basic 2 x 3 inch rectangular downspout is rated for about 600 sq feet, while a 3 x 4 inch spout can handle 1200 sq feet.  One way to squeeze out some more performance of the system is to increase the slope of the gutter.  Normal installs are typical at about ¼” of slope in 10 feet, with down spouts needed about every 40 lineal feet.  As an example: if you have a 50 foot run, a downspout should be installed at both ends.  For proper flow the pitch should be centered from the middle out to the spouts. Steeper pitch of the gutter allows the water to flow more freely and it helps with keeping the gutters free of debris.  Extreme pitch however may look a bit wacky from the street and add complications in its install along the fascia.

Gutter guards or open?

This is the big question many face when it comes to an install. Do I need one? Do they work? Is it worth the extra money?  Many gutter companies will insist that you need these and therefore try to milk more money out of you.  This is where you need to consider your local environment, maintenance schedule and DIY ability.  If your home is located in a forest that sees leaf or needle drop, you are at more risk for needing a gutter guard system.  Gutter location will also dictate their need.  My home is in an area where pine needles are common.

When I installed gutters on my own home I had the seamless company install basic open gutters on 2 of my three eaves.  One eave is over 30 feet in the air and drips along a seldom-traveled area of the yard.  That part of the home is also on pier footings so my concern for water infiltration was minimal.  Clearing the gutter there would be a complex and risky process. Where my gutters are installed are along the driveway side and the deck side. The deck side is more prone to needle drop, and catches more due to the roof size and prevailing winds but having the deck there makes clean out a breeze, a simple step ladder and a few minute every other year and I’m good to go. The opposite side is a 2nd story run but is pretty needle free.

Your choice to install guards should be based on you local situation, and despite the claims many will still require some periodic cleaning. Some designs make this process far worse than an open top system…so the benefit can be nonexistent.



25 Aug 2016

Install Gutters: Hire Someone or DIY?

To many people, “DIY” is more than just a label. It’s an attitude, a state of mind, or even a personal statement. It’s emblematic of being independent, self-reliant, and not beholden to anyone else.

However, a big part of DIY is knowing when to ask for assistance — which often entails hiring a professional. Since this is a gutter-related blog, let’s examine gutter installation and whether you should hire someone to install gutters on your home, or do it yourself.

The Benefits of Doing it Yourself

The most tangible advantage associated with a DIY gutter installation is the reduced costs involved. All of the materials are available at any home improvement or hardware store, and there are no special tools or equipment needed to complete the project. Installing gutters can also be done on your own schedule without having to arrange an appointment with a contractor (and be at home when he arrives). Doing it yourself also lets you pick the precise style of gutters you want, and even install gutter guards during the process. And, last but not least, hanging your own gutters gives you the satisfaction of a job well done.

The Benefits of Hiring a Contractor

On the other hand, hiring a contractor to install gutters on your home will keep you off of a ladder or roof, where your safety is at risk from potential falls and the associated broken bones, concussions, or more severe injuries.

In addition, hanging gutters is harder than it looks; and professionals have the experience to set the right pitch, attach the seams firmly, and secure the guttering to your fascia properly — without damaging the materials in the process. Also, gutter installers know how to identify and repair other issues related to malfunctioning gutters (like rotting fascia boards, siding leaks, or deteriorating shingles) that may also be present on your home.

Finally, gutter contractors will either bring all of the bulky guttering materials to your home or manufacture seamless gutters on-site, thus solving the DIY problem of transporting the materials from a retailer to your home.

How to Find a Reputable Company to Install Gutters

If you do choose the latter option, it’s important to find a contractor that is trustworthy, dependable, and skilled at gutter installation. When exploring possible contractors to install gutters, go online and check out some sites where customer reviews are posted. They’ll often give you unbiased, unfiltered opinions of a given company’s performance (or lack thereof). You should also make sure that any contractor has the proper insurance, so that you don’t expose yourself to a lawsuit if someone injures himself on your property while installing your gutters.

It’s also important to obtain a pre-project estimate in writing from your gutter contractor, along with details on how long the job will take (most gutter installs can be done in a single day). You should determine precisely who will be supervising the work at your home, as well as whom to call if there are any problems or concerns. Finally, make sure the contractor guarantees not only the materials used in the job, but also his labor and workmanship as well.

The answer to the title question will be different for every homeowner. The biggest thing to remember is that you need your gutters to be installed correctly in order for them to collect and channel runoff water from your roof and away from your home’s foundation. Whether those gutters are hung by you or a pro is your call.



15 Aug 2016

Gutter Installation and Repair

Repair or replace gutters
Gutters systems can last 20-30 years, but that doesn’t mean they’ll never need repairs. The first step to extending the life of your gutters is regular gutter cleaning. But let’s suppose you already have damaged gutters. While many problems can be repaired, sometimes you just need to go ahead and replace your gutters.

The main factor in determining whether to repair or replace your gutters will be extent of damage. If you only have one or two trouble spots, they should be easy to fix, but if multiple sections of your gutters are giving you problems or you have tried repairing a problem before and it keeps coming back, you should save yourself the headache and replace your gutters.

If you don’t feel comfortable making the call yourself, you can call out a reputable professional to look at your gutters and give you an assessment. Be warned, while companies that install new gutters often also make small repairs on existing gutters, you should expect to hear a sales pitch arguing that new gutters are the way to go.

If you are confident you just want your gutters repaired, make several calls and get multiple estimates. This can also be a good job for a handyman, who may be more likely to give you a good price than someone who is motivated to sell you a new system. When searching Angie’s List for service providers, be sure to check both categories “gutter repair” and “handyman.”

Common gutter problems

Gutters are relatively simple in design and so there are just a few major ways they can fail. These are the most likely causes for gutter damage and how to repair them.

1. Blockage. Your gutters can be clogged with debris such as build up from natural materials like leaves or from unnatural materials like tennis balls. If you notice water marks under your gutters or pooling water and mildew near your foundation, your gutters are probably overflowing and simply need cleaned out. Don’t just think horizontal here. Your downspout can also be blocked.

2. Sag. If you notice your gutters leaning down or pulling away from the house, you need to act quickly to avoid rotting fascia board and total gutter collapse. The reason for your gutter sag is most likely the result of a broken hanger or spike. Inspect the problem area and replace broken hardware as necessary. You can purchase screw-in spikes instead of hammer-in to help with spike holes that have become worn and loose.

Your gutter might also be sagging due to excess weight from debris that needs cleaned out, ice expansion over the winter or from undue stress such as leaning a ladder on your gutters, which you should never do. If there is permanent warping, you may need to replace that section of gutter, if not your whole system depending on the extent of the damage.

3. Leaks. If your gutters are not blocked and water is still escaping, you have a leak. A leak sometimes opens at the joints between sections of gutter, which can simply be resealed. Other times a leak develops through a crack in the gutters from corrosion or other damage. You can patch these leaks, but once a weak spot is established, it will likely be a recurring problem.

4. Poor pitch. Gutters are meant to have an imperceptible slope towards the downspout, about 1/8 or 1/16 inch per foot, to keep water flowing. If water is pooling in your gutters when there is no blockage, your gutters are probably improperly pitched. This could have happened during a poorly done gutter installation or can be the result of a house settling. This problem may be hard to identify, but it’s important to address as pooling water can lead to corrosion or provide a breeding ground for pests such as mosquitos.

Gutter pitch adjustment is delicate work as you must maintain a precise angle, in a straight line, over long stretches of gutter. This repair can be done by the homeowner, but it’s also a good job to hire a handyman for to be sure the job gets done correctly and the problem gets fixed.

DIY or hire a pro?

Hanging gutters isn’t rocket science — but there is some science involved, not to mention skill, so make sure you’re up to the job. Keep in mind, if you do a bad job it will be obvious to everyone who walks past your house.

If you install gutters yourself, you will be buying materials in sections from the hardware store and joining them together to stretch the length of your roof. This means there will be visible seams that could leak. You also run the risk of creating a wavy effect over several sections while trying to span 40 feet or more of roof line. Even if this is not noticeable to the naked eye, you will create places where water pools and does not drain.

Gutter replacement professionals can manufacture lengths of gutter on the spot to match the precise length of your roof line, which means no seams to join together and the pitch is much easier to install correctly.

When considering doing the job yourself, or if you are on the fence, first add up the total footage of gutter you need, including downspouts. Don’t forget to include the number of end caps, elbows, spikes and so on to get a complete budget. Go to the hardware store and figure out how much it will cost for the materials. Remember that this will be a two-person and two-ladder job. If you’ll need to buy or rent ladders, add that to your cost.

Once you have that number, call three reputable gutter installation companies and get estimates. Naturally, they will be more than your materials-only total, but you can then decide whether the difference is worth it to have the job done professionally.

Gutter materials and cost

Manufacturers use several different types of materials to make gutters. There is wide variability in durability, curb appeal, weather resistance and price. These and other factors will determine which rain gutter system is best for your home.

Aluminum gutters are a popular choice because they are easy to install, fairly weather-resistant and economical. They are available in a wide range of colors and cost between $4 to $10 per linear foot, installed. The curb appeal is good, but can diminish somewhat over time. The main disadvantage of aluminum that it is readily damaged and bent by flying debris and high winds.

Copper gutters may be the right option for owners of historic or high-value homes. The curb appeal is high, but if you want to retain the copper’s natural color, it will be more expensive and difficult to maintain. If patina is what you want, forgo the sealants and let nature take its course. The cons of copper are the $15 to $30 per foot price tag, with an average cost of $23 per foot. This makes copper the most expensive gutter material. There’s also a risk that copper gutters will be stripped off of your house by thieves for the metal value. This risk ebbs and flows with the price of copper.

Stainless steel gutters are not a very common for residences, both because of cost and upkeep (rust). However, it’s the most durable gutter material and will withstand extreme weather conditions. With proper maintenance, steel gutters will last a lifetime. Steel gutters cost $8 to $12 per linear foot. The drawbacks to steel are its low curb appeal and the maintenance required to prevent rust and corrosion.

Vinyl gutters have become very popular because they are easy to install and have a wide range of color options. The $3 to $5 per linear foot price range makes vinyl one of the most economical choices. The curb appeal is good because vinyl is available in numerous colors and is generally fade-resistant. However, vinyl may not do well in extreme temperatures. Cold temperatures cause the material to become fragile and crack with continued exposure. Vinyl is also prone to damage during high winds.

Wood gutters would be a rare choice, but wood is sometimes used for restoration work. The curb appeal is high, but it requires more maintenance to prevent cracks or rot. It’s also difficult to install.  Cost have ranged between $12 and $20 per linear foot, but could be more so an an onsite inspection is necessary to determine the cost.

Some installers charge separately to remove and haul away old gutters and downspouts, so ask the pro if the expense is included in the estimate.


15 Jul 2016

Hiring the Best Gutter Installation Contractor

When installing gutters, choose a replacement company with the right reputation and information.
Replacing gutters is one area where hiring a professional is always the best way to go. However, most homeowners can see the obvious signs when they need to replace gutters.

Weather can wreak havoc on your gutter system. Winter storms and ice buildup can cause your gutters to sag or pull away from your home. Sagging gutters or improperly angled gutters create low spots that overflow during storms, resulting in landscaping damage. Over time, it also brings the potential for water to enter your foundation, basement or behind the walls.

Professional vs. DIY gutter replacement
Contractors who do this job every day can spot problem areas homeowners might overlook during a DIY gutter replacement. There could be damage to your existing fascia boards from your old gutters, leaks behind the siding or wood rot in the fascia or framing.

If you have any areas where water overflows from the gutters or pools at the downspout exits, gutter experts are adept at finding the proper solution. They can suggest ways to reconfigure the gutters and downspouts to carry water more effectively off your roof and away from your home.

What to look for in a gutter contractor

When contacting gutter replacement contractors, there are a few tips to keep in mind. First, research reputable contractors. You don’t want to hire a fly-by-night company with no solid online reviews from customers. Read online reviews for the companies you’re considering, and ask friends and neighbors for recommendations.

Obtain detailed written estimates from each gutter contractor that visits your home. The contract should include a detailed description of the work to be performed, information on how long the project will take and payment specifics. You should obtain information on who to contact if any problems arise with the installation or materials.

The company should be bonded, insured and properly licensed if necessary in your area. Also, any reputable contractor should offer a warranty or guarantee on the project, as well as happily provide client references.

Consider each gutter company’s products

Another decision when replacing gutters is what type to get. Typical builder-grade gutters consist of a five-inch open gutter trough. Most homes really benefit from six-inch gutter troughs, especially if they have a steep roof pitch or gutters on both the first and second stories.

Some gutter companies offer the option of installing a gutter screen or guard on top of the gutters. These can be made of wire mesh or nylon.

While they can prevent larger leaves and sticks from entering your gutters, smaller debris such as tree flower buds or pine needles can still enter. This will make it necessary to clean out your gutters on a regular basis. They can also lead to greater snow and ice buildup during winter storms, potentially damaging your gutters.

Gutter guards and enclosed gutters

Some gutter companies manufacture a completely enclosed gutter system. They consist of a hood attached to the gutter itself. Typically, water flows over the edge of the hood, keeping out leaves and debris both large and small. Some manufacturers even tout these gutters will remain clog free and offer a lifetime warranty.

While the cost of these types of gutter systems can be higher than traditional open gutters, you’ll never have to pay for gutter cleaning. As mentioned before, talk to friends and neighbors to gauge their experience with different types of gutter systems, and read online reviews of the company’s products.

The best gutter installation company

When undertaking any home improvement project, it pays to do your homework. Research the gutter companies you’re considering. Make sure their contracts include all of the necessary information.

If you’re having water problems in certain areas, discuss this with the gutter company so they can reconfigure your system to work more efficiently. And research which type of gutter system will work best for your home and budget, taking into consideration the long-term gutter maintenance costs of uncovered versus covered gutters.