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.