Proper maintenance keeps gutters on for life
Angie's List asked to talk to three experts about cleaning, purchasing and maintaing gutter systems.
Seattle gutter system experts
Chuck Elvig, owner/operator, Gutter King, Mountlake Terrace, Wash., www.gutterking.com
When should I have my gutters cleaned?
Reed: Instead of having to regularly clean your gutters, we recommend buying a micro-filtration gutter guard. Here, a lot of pine and fir will stuff your gutters, causing gradual damage that will lead to expensive repairs later.
Roskamp: Late fall is when most people need to have gutters cleaned. Homes with no trees can go several years without gutter cleaning.
Elvig: The best time to clean gutters is after the leaves have fallen in December or January and again in June.
What's the cost to install a new gutter system?
Reed: In the Pacific Northwest, most homes are fairly large, so the median cost for a typical new replacement gutter system, including a micro-filtration, will run between $3,000-$5,000.
Roskamp: We have replaced all gutters and downspouts on a home for about $1,100. To save on costs, the homeowner might consider partial gutter replacement, or reusing existing downspouts.
Elvig: It depends on the size of the house, but it can typically range in cost from $900 to $1,100 for the standard K-style aluminum gutters, which I recommend, because you can get them replaced easier if necessary.
What's the best way I can maintain my gutters, and what's their typical life span?
Reed: To maintain your gutters, clean them every year with a garden hose or a pressure washer, or brush the debris off with a long telescopic brush. The system should last a lifetime.
Roskamp: A car wash scrub brush, an extension pole extending to 18 feet, a little bleach, dish soap, a bucket and a garden hose work for most two-story homes. It's like washing a car - rinse as you go and don't allow the soap to dry on the gutters.
Elvig: If you maintain and clean your gutters twice a year, they can last 20-30 years. If you clean your gutters on your own, avoid brushing debris into the downspout, because it can potentially clog your drain line.
What other advice do you have for homeowners?
Reed: Beware of unlicensed, unbonded or uninsured gutter cleaners! If the contractor falls off a ladder and doesn't have insurance, you could lose your house in a lawsuit.
Roskamp: When selecting a gutter contractor, check with Angie's List, check Internet "buzz" and check the contractor's licensing with the state labor and industries website to make sure it's current.
Elvig: Gutter companies come and go. Make sure you hire a contractor who is experienced, licensed and bonded. As a general rule, I believe if they have five or more years of experience, they'll do a better job.