Gutters catch the water running off the roof and direct the water toward the downspout to drain it away from critical structural areas. Gutters are an integral part of a roofing system and should be kept clear of debris for peak performance.
Many people don’t often think about their gutters if they’re working properly. Once problems arise, such as leaking, overflow, or missing attachments, it’s time to consider gutter repairs or replacement.
How will I know when I should replace my gutters?
Gutters have clear physical signs when it’s time to replace them.
These breaks in the gutter can quickly become larger, allowing water to leak into structural areas potentially causing more damage.
This could be caused by water not completely draining. Ignoring this could lead to the gutters pulling away from the structure.
Many older gutters are nailed to the fascia board of the house. Over time, these nails loosen, allowing the gutter to pull away from the board. This causes sagging, pooling, and other problems. Newer gutters are usually fastened with screws and stronger fastening brackets, eliminating this problem.
- Pooling water
This pooling of water isn’t happening in the gutters themselves, but in areas where your gutters may overflow. This could be a sign of a few different problems that all relate back to expiring gutters.
When gutters are clogged or not functioning properly, the overflow of water splashing onto the ground causes erosion near the walls of your house or building.
Once erosion starts to happen, water begins to seep through the walls, often resulting in wet basements and cracked or compromised building foundations. What began as a small problem can end up doing serious damage to the structural integrity of the building.
- Areas of rust
The discoloration of metal shows the long term effect of water exposure. Rust is a normal result of aging metal, but this iron oxide breaks down the metal and eventually causes material failure.
- Paint peeling
When water is running through the gutters year after year, paint begins to peel. Once you notice this happening, it’s likely that your gutters have reached the end of their life.
How long do gutters last?
It depends on the type of gutter.
Up until 20-25 years ago, steel-painted gutters were common for residential use. As we know, steel rusts, and so typically these gutters will deteriorate in 25-30 years.
Most commercial box gutters are steel, but these often have a superior coating and painting process, so commercial box gutters can last 30-40 years.
Within the last 25 years, aluminum gutters have become the go-to choice for residential application. This being the case, the gutters themselves can last a long time. The longevity of these gutters usually depends more on how they were installed, and on the quality of the seams and joints. You can have a non-corrosive gutter material like aluminum, but if it’s poorly installed, it still won’t do its job.
It’s a good idea to have your gutters inspected and, if needed, replaced when your roof is replaced.
What types of gutters are there?
If you’re looking to replace the gutters for your home or business, you’ll likely get these options to choose from:
The term “K-style” comes from the curves that can be seen from the side profile. K-style gutters are the most common gutters for both residential and commercial. These gutters are advantageous because they can hold more water compared to other gutters, and they can seamlessly integrate into the building. Because of the angles, they can be hard to clean and could potentially retain debris if left untouched.
K-gutter comes in two sizes, 5-inch and 6-inch. The 5-inch K gutter is adequate for most residential applications. 6-inch K gutter can be used on roofs with a higher volume of water runoff, or in situations where that extra inch of width helps catch water running off a building. This can be helpful on metal roofs especially. Water will run off a metal roof much faster than from a shingle roof because of its smooth nature. Once it’s at the bottom of the roof, it will shoot out over the edge a good bit during a hard rain, making the 6-K style necessary in some cases.
Half-round gutters are a common choice for historical and traditional type buildings. They are a classic style that are offered in many different metals for you to choose from. Copper and aluminum are the two most common choices for this gutter style.
Box gutters are most common for commercial buildings. These are available with a flange that fits under the roofing
materials as an extra support. This is often needed due to the larger surface area of the roof being served by the gutter system. Box gutters come in various sizes such as 7-inch and 9-inch.
Additional considerations when replacing the gutter
- Fascia board
While the gutters are being replaced, the fascia board should be inspected for rot and decay. Installing new gutters on a compromised fascia board will result in failure because the board will not have enough strength to support the gutter system. The last thing anybody wants is a new gutter system with bad wood behind it that’s unable to support the gutters for the long term.
The time to replace any rotten or decayed fascia boards is definitely when the gutters are being replaced.
- Fascia cladding
If you are changing the color scheme with your new gutters, you should also take the fascia cladding (the metal which covers the fascia board) into consideration for replacement. On most residential houses, the fascia cladding covers not only the eave boards (by the gutters, at the bottom of the roof), but the rake boards (on the sides or gables of the house) as well.
Discuss your gutter project with Joyland Roofing
If you’re considering gutter repairs, replacements, or even gutter guards, talk to experts. Gutters are a critical feature of your roofing system that needs to be done correctly. If not, it could cause major damages to your home.
We would love to discuss, inspect, and quote what your gutters need. We’re excited to speak with you soon!
Pennsylvania Home Improvement Contractor License (HIC) # PA124258