Angie's LIST Guide to
Gutter repair and replacement

A functioning gutter system is vital for the safe removal of water from the home and roof. Get tips on gutter repair and replacement.
 
 
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Repair or replace?

Gutters systems can last 20-30 years, but that doesn't mean they'll never need repairs. They may spring leaks over time and the spikes that hold them to the fascia board can work themselves loose. They may also need adjusting if the water is no longer draining well even when there are no obstructions.

Companies that install new gutters often also make small repairs on existing gutters -- though you should expect to hear a sales pitch arguing that new gutters are the way to go. If you just want yours repairs, make several calls and get estimates. This can also be a good job for a handyman, who may be more likely to give you a good price than someone who is motivated to sell you a new system.

So when you search Angie's List to find a service provider in your area, be sure to check both categories -- "gutter repair" and "handyman."

Install yourself or hire?

Hanging gutters isn't rocket science -- but there is some science involved, not to mention skill, so make sure you're up to the job. Remember, if you do a bad job it will be obvious to everyone who walks past your house.

Gutters need to have a slight incline or "fall" to allow water to drain towards the downspout -- typically about half an inch for every 10 feet. However, it should appear to the observer to follow a perfectly straight horizontal along the roof line. Professional installers can manufacture lengths of gutter on the spot to match the precise length of your roof line. This means no seams to join together.


A gutter installation pro measures a segment of seamless gutter before installing it. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Aaron B. of Bremerton, Wash.)
Professional installers can manufacture lengths of gutter on the spot to match the precise length of your roof line. This means no seams to join together.

If you install gutters yourself, you will be buying them in sections from the hardware store and joining them together to stretch the length of your roof. This means there will be visible seams that can leak. You also run the risk of creating a wavy effect over several sections while trying to span 40 feet or more of roof line. Even if this is not noticeable to the naked eye, you will create places where water pools and does not drain. One advantage professional installers have over you (in addition to their skills and experience) is that they can manufacture sections of gutter on-site to match the exact length needed.

If you are considering doing the job yourself, first add up the total footage of gutter you need, including downspouts. Don't forget to include the number of endcaps, elbows, spikes and so on. Go to the hardware store and figure out how much it will cost for the materials. Remember that this will be a two-person and two-ladder job. If you'll need to buy or rent ladders, add that to your cost.

Before you start buying materials, call three installation companies and get estimates from them. Naturally, this will be more than your materials-only total, but you can then decide whether the difference is worth it to have the job done professionally. Search Angie's List to find installers in your area that have received the best recommendations from past customers.

 

Gutter materials and colors

Manufacturers use several different types of materials to make gutters. There is wide variability in durability, curb appeal, weather resistance and price. These and other factors will determine which rain gutter system is best for your home.

Aluminum gutters are a popular choice because they are easy to install, fairly weather-resistant and economical. They are available in a wide range of colors and cost between $4 and $7 per linear foot. The curb appeal is good, but can diminish somewhat over time. The main disadvantage of aluminum that it is readily damaged and bent by flying debris and high winds.

Copper gutters may be the right option for owners of historic or high-value homes. The curb appeal is high, but if you want to retain the copper's natural color, it will be more expensive and difficult to maintain. If patina is what you want, forgo the sealants and let nature take its course. The cons of copper are the $15 to $30 price tag. This makes copper the most expensive gutter material. There's also a risk that copper gutters will be stripped off of your house by thieves for the metal value. This risk ebbs and flows with the price of copper.

Stainless steel gutters are not a very common for residences, both because of cost and upkeep (rust). However, it’s the most durable gutter material and will withstand extreme weather conditions. With proper maintenance, steel gutters will last a lifetime. Steel gutters cost $9 to $12 per linear foot. The drawbacks to steel are its low curb appeal and the maintenance required to prevent rust and corrosion.

Vinyl gutters have become very popular because they are easy to install and have a wide range of color options. The $3 to $5 per-foot price range makes vinyl one of the most economical choices. The curb appeal is good because vinyl is available in numerous colors and is generally fade-resistant. However, vinyl may not do well in extreme temperatures. Cold temperatures cause the material to become fragile and crack with continued exposure. Vinyl is also prone to damage during high winds.

Wood gutters would be a rare choice, but wood is sometimes used for restoration work. The curb appeal is high, but it requires more maintenance to prevent cracks or rot. It's also difficult to install and the cost ranges between $12 and $20 per linear foot.

Comments

I need to have my gutters and roof checked out. I've been having a problem with water for a while now.

We have a stretch of gutter on our house that needs to be replaced and matched with what is already in place. could you recommend someone in the Anoka, MN area that would be trustworthy. Thanks.

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