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What Should I Know About Gutter Installation?

Article Details
  • Written By: Jonathan Stevens
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 October 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2019
    Conjecture Corporation
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Proper gutter installation will help protect your home from water damage to roof, siding, landscaping and foundation structures. In order to accomplish an effective installation, you will need to complete the following steps:

1) Assess the need
2) Plan the solution
3) Acquire the tools and materials
4) Measure, Cut, Assemble and Install

Assess the Need

Walk around your home and note any areas where pools of water have formed, erosion damage has occurred or unsightly water stains have remained from previous downpours. Unless you live in an area that rarely or never sees rain, you will likely find some measure of water damage if you do not have proper gutter installation or if they are defective, worn out or improperly installed.

We’ll assume you need to perform a complete gutter installation. If you only need to install a section, simply use the instructions relevant to your situation.

Plan the Solution

It is helpful to note the gutter layout of a neighbor’s house that is free of water damage or drainage problems, particularly if he has a similarly modeled home. Note where the drainpipes -- the vertical sections that drain the water to ground level -- are located and how many are used. Note the size and type of gutters on your neighbors’ homes, and any other special features such as splash guard locations, noting what you may want to include in your gutter installation.

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Gutters are usually comprised of copper, steel, vinyl or aluminum. You will choose one mostly based on budget though there are some climate-related qualifiers. If you live in an area with a narrower range of temperature changes, vinyl is the most affordable and easiest to install. However, if your location experiences wide ranging temperatures promoting frequent expansion and shrinkage of building materials, you’ll want to at least change to aluminum although copper is good if you can afford it.

You’ll want to select the correct size based on the annual rainfall in your area. Moderate to high requires a wider gutter in the 7-inch (about 18 cm) range. If low, a 5-inch (about 13 cm) width will suffice.

Acquiring the Tools and Materials

Purchase sufficient lengths of gutter material and the proper number of specialty items such as splash guards and draining trays -- placed at the bottom of your drainpipes. You will also purchase hanging brackets and other gutter-related hardware -- end caps, outlets, connectors, etc. -- for properly assembling pieces, affixing the system to your roof, and for running down the corners of your home.

Be sure to have an extension ladder high enough to safely hold you against the roof edge -- at least 2 to 3 feet (about 1m) above the roof line -- tape measure; cutting tool appropriate for your selected gutter composition (vinyl gutters snap together); chalk line; screwdriver (powered if possible); and assorted fasteners such as deck screws. Consult the manufacturer’s recommendations pertaining to the gutter materials you purchase.

Measure, Cut, Assemble, and Install

Cut the gutter lengths to proper sizes and assemble them with connectors while on the ground. Cut the outlet holes for the downspout and install features such as end caps, splash guards and drainpipes while still at ground level. Keep the configurations at a manageable size for transport up the ladder. If possible, work with a helper to simplify the gutter installation.

Before lifting your assembled pieces to the roof, create layout lines with a chalking line so that your gutters will run straight and remain aesthetically pleasing. Install the brackets at intervals recommended by the manufacturer — typically 24 inches (60cm) apart, being sure not to have too great a span between them, especially at seams where lengths of gutter are joined. This will prevent later sagging and leakage.

Lift and install the gutter lengths you have assembled, making sure you create a slight angle so that water will flow to the outlet end. If these angles are not considered, rainwater will not drain and gutters will back up, even to the point of overflowing. Repeat this process until all sections are installed.

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