What You Should Know About Gutter Installation

Proper gutter installation plays a very important role in the maintenance of your home. Most homeowners don't spend a lot of time thinking about their gutters, but understanding their importance may prevent you some costly home repair bills in the future.

Aluminum gutters are a great rain solution product. They are low cost, easily maintained and a long lasting solution for many homes. They are weather-resistant and maintain their integrity in cold climates. Seamless aluminum gutters will not rust and have a life expectancy of approximately 25 - 30 years.

5" Seamless k-style Gutters: are the most common gutter in North America and has a rainwater capacity of 1.2 gallons per foot. They can be used in new installations or to replace existing gutters. The traditional K-style blends in well with almost all homes. If properly cleaned and maintained, they will provide many years of trouble free service.

Gutter Hangers

Gutter hangers are brackets that interlock into the front and back of the gutter and are then screwed into the fascia under the drip edge flashing.

For standard fascia gutter installations, gutter hangers, sometimes called hidden hangers, should be installed every 24 inches. In the colder climates, you may encounter heavy ice and snow loads in the gutter. This extra weight will require hangers every 12 to 18 inches.

Gutter Screws

The gutter screws used for fastening the gutter hangers to the fascia board should be #10 x 1.5" or # 10 x 2" long cadmium, zinc or stainless steel wood grip and have a hex head for use with a 1/4" nut driver.

If you have an older home with gutters, they were most likely installed with the spike and ferrule method. A type of gutter installation in which a metal cylinder or tube is placed inside the gutter to strengthen it and keep it from bending. The spike is driven through the face of the gutter, through the ferrule and into the wood fascia board.

While the spike and ferrule method was the standard for years, most gutter installation companies have changed to some form of the gutter hanger with a screw anchoring method.

In the photograph below, you can see an example of a spike that has come loose from the gutter and hammered back in year after year.


Gutter Installation

Five inch seamless aluminum gutter coil, made from .027 aluminum alloy, is roll formed with a gutter machine at the job site. Look for a minimum of 20 year prorated warranty against corrosion, blistering, peeling or flaking.

The gutters should be installed under the drip edge flashing. The only way to be sure the gutter is pitched toward the downspouts is to use a level in order to maintain a slight pitch towards the downspouts. This insures little or no standing water in the gutter.

A gutter installed level will drain because water levels itself, however you will not have any water flow to self clean the gutter. Too much slope does not look good and you will loose some of the gutters holding capacity.


On some gutter installations, to achieve the proper amount of gutter pitch, the back edge of the gutter may drop slightly below the drip edge flange. If this happens, Gutter Flashing  (see drawing below) must be installed to insure that no water leaks behind the gutter.

Once in awhile, gutter installers are asked to install gutters on a house that is just not level. Trying to maintain a proper gutter pitch on a structure that is not level is a rather challenging compromise between function and aesthetics. If the right pitch can't be established, the only other option is to add more downspouts.

Gutter Expansion

The SMACNA manual states that no gutter length should exceed 50 feet without an expansion joint to allow for movement due to temperature changes. While planning expansion joint locations, remember that an expansion joint acts as a dam in the gutter system, so the number and placement of downspouts will be effected.

Splash Guards

Gutter splash guards must be installed on all inside corners, or anywhere two roof lines meet to form a valley. The valley acts to concentrate a higher volume of water (from both roof sections) in one channel leading down to the intersection of two gutters. Splash guards prevent the rain water from over shooting the gutter. 

Sealant

A very important aspect of the gutter installation is the gutter sealer used for the corners and end caps. All corners and end caps must be completely sealed.

I use Ruscoe (self leveling) Nitrile Rubber gutter sealant. This sealant is resistant to all climate conditions, fungus, many acids, salt and many chemicals. It Forms a permanent, flexible bond which will withstand below zero temperatures and extreme heat.

Downspouts

Downspouts are basically exterior plumbing designed to carry rainwater from your gutter to the ground ground. Decorative downspouts are a cool way to add some character to your gutter system.

Getting the water out of the gutter is the most important thing. Remember that gutters are only there to catch the water, not hold it. Heavy rain can easily overrun a gutter system with just the minimum number of downspouts.

The outlet from the gutter to the downspout should be drilled with a whole saw or a punch. Some installers will actually cut an X slot into the bottom of the gutter and attach the downspout to the bent down metal flanges. The outlet is then snapped in place and sealed. Downspouts are secured to these outlets, 

Using larger downspout outlets and sloping the gutter towards the outlets not only allows the gutter to drain faster but also aids in flushing the gutter debris out when it rains.

Rain water should be diverted 5 feet away from the foundation of your home by using a splash block, downspout extensions or an underground drain line.

Metal Roof Gutters

Metal roof gutters usually require a different installation method. For a gutter installation with a roof overhang of more than two inches, a special hanger called a vampire hanger must be used.

Installing rain gutters is a pretty complex and not to mention time consuming task but if you would like to learn how to install gutters on your own, then these aluminum gutter installation instructions on how to install gutters may help you out. 

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