Regular maintenance extends gutter life

Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List

Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List


by Angie Hicks

Don Holman says he sees it time and again.

Homeowners replace worn, damaged gutters with new ones, only to neglect the routine maintenance they require and end up with, well, more damaged gutters.

“Homeowners overlook their guttering completely,” says Holman, owner of D & B Continuous Guttering LLC, which services greater Indianapolis and the surrounding areas.

“Look at the problems it causes them when they don’t pay attention to their gutter system. I see it every day. People get new gutters and won’t maintenance them again until they see something wrong. We get a lot of calls after the second year with people saying, 'The gutters on our house are falling off.’ And I say, ‘Well, here’s why,’ and I unclog it from where the gutter has been holding up to 500 pounds of water weight all year.”

A lack of maintenance can not only lead to damage to the gutter, which would require repair or replacement, but ignoring gutter upkeep can lead to a whole host of bigger problems including water damage in the home, landscaping erosion and cracks in the foundation.

David Hazen, owner of David Hazen Group LLC in Carmel, Ind., recommends homeowners have their gutters cleaned and inspected at least twice a year; once in the late spring and again in the fall after the leaves have stopped falling.

“During the freeze-melt cycle, if the gutter isn’t cleaned and you have all that snow on your roof, you risk having the roof leak and water leaks in your basement from overflowing gutters,” Hazen says. “Clean gutters will help prevent that.”

If you notice your gutters pulling away from the fascia board (the board the holds the gutter) or your gutters continue to overflow after having already been cleaned, it could be time to replace them.

A qualified and experienced gutter professional can help you determine if your gutters can be repaired – usually for a few hundred dollars – or if they need to be replaced, which could range from $500 to $2,000 for aluminum gutters, depending on the size of the home.

By contrast, Hazen says he charges on average between $125 and $150 for a gutter cleaning and inspection.

“We not only clean the gutters, but we clean the debris off your roof,” Hazen says. “You can clean the gutters, but if you still have debris on the roof, it will still fall down into the gutters later. We’ll blow off the roof, bag or tarp the debris and remove it from your property. Then, we check the downspouts to make sure they are working.”

More homeowners are investing in gutter protection systems, which can help keep debris from settling in the gutter, allowing water that does collect to flow freely through the downspouts.

“We are doing a lot more leaf protection now because people are finding out, with the kinds of rains we were having, when you don’t maintain your gutters, things happen like landscaping erosion and (water getting in) crawlspaces,” Holman says.

“If you have underground drains that your downspouts flow into and you haven’t got some kind of protection on your guttering, all that does make it down the downspouts will just lay in your underground pipes or under your yard and it will have to be dug up sooner or later.”

In addition to regular cleanings, Hazen recommends having a professional caulk the miter seams every five to eight years as needed.

“That is the most overlooked (maintenance),” Hazen says. “Gutter seams wear out, and when they do, they start rotting the gutter board and soffit (the flat area under the board). Those can become major repairs. We get a lot of work from gutter seams that haven’t been re-caulked.”

Before you hire, check that the company is insured, has worker’s compensation protection for its employees, and has a good reputation and work history.

“You want to use someone with a proven record,” Hazen says.

Angie Hicks is a Fishers resident and founder of Angie’s List, a national provider of reviews you can trust on contractors, plumbers, doctors and other service professionals. More than 1 million consumers across the U.S. use Angie’s List to help make tough hiring decisions easier.


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