Bob Vecchio, owner
The House Doctors
Mayfield Heights, Ohio
Stephen Frederick, owner
Andy Bridge, owner
Great Northwest Gutters
What are common gutter problems?
Bob Vecchio: During the wintertime, we see a lot of gutters falling down from the weight of ice and snow. During the spring, summer and fall, we see leaking at the outside and the inside mitres, which are the L-shaped connecting pieces at the corners.
There are two seams where the gutters come together, and even though you screw them together and caulk it, as the years go by, the caulk inside gets brittle and breaks up, causing leaks.
A simple repair could cost as little as $50, but could reach $400 or $500. If you had one [of that size], I’d do you a favor and try to sell you a new gutter.
A new installation could be $400 to $500 for a small ranch house, and I’ve seen it go up to $2,000 or more, depending on size of the home.
Stephen Frederick: I made more repairs last year from poor installations on new systems than to older existing gutters. A lot of installers don’t take the time to install them correctly, and with the snow and ice in New England, they pull right off the house.
Generally, it’s $200 to $500 to reattach them. I do a lot of repairs to disconnected elbows and downspouts. One disconnection is $50 or $60. If there are several, it’s usually under $150. I repair aluminum, wood and copper gutters.
Andy Bridge: We see gutters that have lived their full lives and are beginning to rust out. We also get calls from people who have had problems with one gutter, and sometimes we might be able to replace one section.
Another problem is gutters that aren’t graded or sloped correctly, so water pools in them. Sometimes we have to replace those, and sometimes we can regrade them.
In the Pacific Northwest, we use seamless gutters, primarily made of steel or aluminum. An isolated repair may cost a couple hundred dollars, and generally speaking, the average replacement would probably run $700 and up — maybe $700 to $1,500 for a home that’s about 2,000 or 2,500 square feet.
Should homeowners have their gutters inspected regularly?
Vecchio: Yes, have them cleaned and inspected every fall. The gutter is mounted to a fascia board, and if the gutter is damaged or pulled away from the board, water could get behind it and run into your home.
Frederick: You should have them inspected every year. The fascia boards should be checked for signs of rot. The downspouts and elbows should be checked for silt, and the entire system should be checked to make sure it’s properly attached.
Rotting fascia boards become susceptible to squirrels chewing through and making nests. If water stays around the home, it can erode the soil and get into the foundation, destroying the mortar and cracking the foundation. More damage can occur if water freezes against the foundation.
You should have them cleaned every fall, and more often if there are a lot of trees around the home. I always tell people to check them in the rain. See if water is spilling out or if it’s being properly routed.
Do you recommend gutter covers?
Vecchio: We sell and install them, but I don’t recommend them. They’re two to three times the price of normal gutters, and although a lot of people advertise that you shouldn’t have to clean your gutters again, that’s just not true.
Enough debris gets in that you still have to clean them every two or three years, and the cover can present a problem — a lot of times, those tops are sealed. It would make it very hard for a homeowner to take it off and clean the gutter. Often, they’ll have to call a professional.
Frederick: I don’t recommend them. I do sell them, but only if people really insist on having them. Every four or five years, I switch brands because the product isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do.
The gutter fills up with silt. Covers are more trouble than they’re worth. Initially, you save yourself from getting a couple of gutter cleanings, but you pay more in the long run.
Bridge: There are different covers and screens out there. We don’t do covers — it’s just not our preference.
One of the problems with cover systems is that small debris, including [pine and fir] needles, tends to still get in the gutters, while [some screens] have finer mesh. Covers are also expensive.
Are there any products you’d recommend?
Frederick: Alcoa aluminum gutters are the best. The back is higher than the front so water is forced out the front, away from the fascia board.
They only come in white and don’t fit on every home, so they’re not for everyone.
Bridge: We recommend a screen called the Sentinel Gutter Debris Shield. It has finer mesh and is designed specifically to keep needles out, in addition to leaves. It really does a good job, and there’s little maintenance required.
Have you recently installed gutters? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally published on May 28, 2009.