Install Gutters Yourself? 5 Beginner Mistakes To Avoid

Close up of man replacing gutters

If you’re thinking about installing and hanging gutters yourself, be careful. There are plenty of mistakes to be made. Improperly installed gutters can damage your house or even put your safety at risk in the wrong situation. Here are the five most common gutter mistakes, and how to avoid them:

MISTAKE #1 – Choosing the Wrong Type of Gutter

There are a wide variety of gutter materials, sizes, styles, and gauges. Each has its benefits and drawbacks, but choosing the wrong one can be a nightmare. Choose the most durable material you can afford, and talk with your contractor or hardware store about roof shingle size and what width of gutter is right for your house. Standard residential homes typically use K style aluminum gutters, 5 or 6 inches wide from side to side, but if you live in a particularly rainy climate or looking for a different style gutter, other choices are available like ½ round aluminum gutter . The gauge of a gutter is equally important, standard is 26 gauge but we recommend that you go with 32 gauge to be safe, particularly in regions that have extreme weather events (snow/ice, heavy rains, etc.)

MISTAKE #2 – Incorrectly Calculating the Pitch

Gutters may look perfectly even, but it’s a carefully crafted illusion. Gutters actually have a slight pitch that allows water to flow towards the downspouts, generally one to two inches of decline for every forty feet of length. It’s very gradual and not noticeable, but it helps sweep away debris and keeps your gutters clean, and allows water to flow to the downspouts without overwhelming them, thus backing up the system. As you mount your gutters, check with a level to make sure they’re at the proper pitch.

MISTAKE #3 – Improperly Spacing Mounting or Hanger System

All gutters are attached to your house by mounting system or different types of hangers (inside, outside, or strap), and the hangers need to be carefully spaced close together (3 feet or less) to give the gutter proper support. Without the correct support, the rain gutters will sag. Water will collect in the lower places, tugging at your gutter system, until eventually the whole system will be ripped off your home. If using hangers, space according to instructions, or a bit closer if need be, and your gutters will stay where they belong, sending water to where it belongs.

MISTAKE #4 – Improperly Locating the Gutter

Water runs down your roof, goes off the edge, so the gutter goes on the edge, right? Simple. And like so many things that seem simple, it’s actually wrong.

Workman replacing gutters
When choosing gutters, consider the material, as well as the size and width needed.

Your gutter needs to be a few inches under the edge of your roof. Why? Physics. If you put a paper towel on a drop of water, the water will be sucked into the fibers (a phenomenon called capillary action). Your roof does the same thing. Water will drip off the very edge of your roof, but also be pulled back up on the underside, and drip out a few inches underneath your roof’s edge as well. A permanent solution you should consider is installing drip edge. Drip edge gets installed under the first course of shingles and promotes water to run freely from roof edge down into gutter. Without it, water may run down behind your gutter, down fascia board and siding, leading to potential damage.

Clogged gutters can result in runoff water, which can damage your home and landscaping. Gutter guards can prevent clogs and save you money. Download our free gutter guide

MISTAKE #5 – Using Too Many Seams vs. Seamless Solution

Finally, gutters will need to be welded or soldered together in order to be attached. But plan ahead in your construction to use as few welds as possible. Over time, the material in gutters, especially at the seams, is subjected to extreme temperature, force, and, of course, water. This puts a strain on any connections you solder or weld, and will eventually break the gutter if they’re not checked and touched up occasionally. The seams are the weak point in any gutter system, so treat them accordingly.

Seamless gutters or continuous rain gutters are another option available from contractors in some areas, so we highly recommend you consider having them installed on your home to avoid all the potential problems that welded together gutters can cause overtime.

As you can see, this can be tricky business. Don’t go at it alone. Contact us today, a gutter installer who’ll do the job right!

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