If it weren't for your gutters, then chances are you'd wind up with a damaged foundation or a water-logged yard. Gutters help direct rainfall runoff from your roof in a controlled manner, channeling it away from your home towards a properly-designed drainage area. However, not all gutters can last forever, and there comes a time when your home may need new gutters.
Here's what you'll need to know before you decide to replace your gutters on your own or hire a professional to replace them for you.
Consider the Materials
Materials are the first choice you'll likely make when choosing your new gutters. There's a wide range of materials to choose from, depending on your budget and aesthetic tastes:
- Vinyl gutters are the least expensive option available. The vinyl material is incapable of rusting, plus it redirects rainwater quietly. However, leaks can form in between sections and the vinyl material itself can also crack when heavily damaged or exposed to severe cold.
- Aluminum gutters are also relatively inexpensive and, unlike vinyl, are capable of lasting for the life of your home. They are impervious to rust and can be customized in a variety of colors. However, they can be easily dented, plus any repairs call for a repainting.
- Stainless steel gutters offer over double the life expectancy of their aluminum counterparts (50 years). It's also highly resistant to rust and exceptionally strong, but it's more expensive than aluminum, and its heavier weight can cause issues during installation.
- Copper gutters can last for a lifetime, need little to no maintenance and can be customized for a seamless appearance. However, it's the most expensive option available, in most cases. Security can also be a concern, as copper gutters make a tempting target for scrap metal thieves.
Proper Sizing Is Essential
Another important factor to consider is the size of your gutters, which can vary due to roof design and pitch, as well as the maximum rainfall intensity for your region. To find out how big your gutters need to be, Thomas Baker of This Old House suggests calculating the square footage of the gutter's drainage area by multiplying the length times the width of the roof's surface area and then calculating the roof-pitch factor by measuring the roof's pitch.
By multiplying your roof's drainage area by the roof-pitch factor and maximum rainfall intensity, you can finally determine how much gutter you'll need to handle rainfall runoff. In most cases, you'll only need 5 or 6-inch gutters. For extra capacity, you can upgrade to 7 or 8-inch gutters, although the gutters may need to be custom-fabricated due to availability issues.
Should You Install Gutter Guards?
During the installation, your contractor may try to sell you on adding covers to your new gutters. Keep in mind that gutter guards do have their advantages. For instance, they can help cut back on how frequently you need to clean your gutters. In turn, you won't have to climb up on your roof or use a ladder to clean your gutters, which could result in serious injury if you're not careful.
On the other hand, your gutters will need occasional cleaning even with the addition of gutter guards. While gutter guards can stop large leaves from getting into your gutters, tree flower buds, evergreen needles and seed pods can still get through. Some gutter cover designs also make it difficult to clean the gutters, adding extra effort to what should be an effortless product.
Whether or not you decide to install gutter guards depends on your local situation. For instance, a home with heavy forest cover may need gutter guards installed to prevent frequent cleaning. Meanwhile, homes in areas with thinner tree cover may not need them at all, depending on how the home's roof is situated.
For more information, contact a professional business, such as Gutter Magician NKY.