Let's talk Gutters!! Advice and opinions sought

A portion of my gutters fell off some time ago, and need to get them replaced. Since I think it’s kinda doubtful I’ll get someone to install just a couple pieces, I’m looking into getting some new ones. However, I am befuddled with all the different options. So, I turn to you for some advice.

Important things to know:

  1. I live in Connecticut. Means rain, snow, and LOTS and LOTS of leaves.

  2. 1-story house, approx 1400 sq. ft., so maybe 60 - 80 ft (?) of gutter.

  3. Cost is definitely a barrier, but I’ll pay more for something that I can be convinced is worth more.

  4. Not having to clean my gutters is a GOOD THING.

My questions:

  1. What kind of gutters are the best?

  2. What are “seamless” gutters?

  3. What can I expect to pay for gutter installation?

Anything else I should know?

Much appreciated.

I can tell you a little:

  1. I would say seamless, see 2.

Do-it-yourself is certainly cheaper if you have the expertise, but I don’t. I was afraid if I didn’t install it properly that it’d just be more trouble later. Gutters installed improperly don’t just fail to keep water from dripping on your driveway, they can also cause water to back up under your roof and into your house.

The seamless also has a warranty. (15 years, I believe, in our case) Cheaper in the long run, I thought. Plus it wasn’t me up on the goddam roof.

  1. Seamless gutters are just that: one long piece to fit all the way across without a joint in the middle, a considerable weak spot. (Of course there are seams at the ends and corners).

They can only be installed professionally, because they are made to order right on the site. They take a big roll of flat metal, and stick it through a machine that crimps it into the gutter shape. Then cut it off in the exact length they need.

  1. 1 story house too: we had one long run on the long side of the house, and two runs with lots of corners that had to fit around porches. IIRC, it was a bit over $500. This is Wisconsin, so prices may be different where you are. Although the weather is about the same!

We have leaf troubles. We usually clean them out in fall after the leaves are all down. I have a long metal wand with a curved end that fits on the garden hose, plus a tool like a bent-over rake on a pole. I just get up on the stepladder and blast/scrape 'em out. (I wear a rain poncho; a lot of gunk can splash down). I have to make sure I blast out the drainpipes too.

I myself would be interested if anyone has experience with those screens or covers that are supposed to keep leaves out. Do they really work? In a heavy rain, wouldn’t the water just gush right over them? What about snow?

We got Leaf Guard gutters for our last home:

http://www.leafguard.com/FAQ.aspx (note: the rest of the site has rather annoying Flash animation)

Regular gutters would have been about $400-$500 for that house, which was approximately 1500 sq. feet. The Leaf Guard gutters were about $900 (they do have coupons sometimes - we had one for $100 off), but they were worth it. They are enameled, and the finish is guaranteed for 20 years. They are also guaranteed not to clog, or the company will come out and clean your gutters for free. They are also screwed into the house, rather than nailed, so they stay nice and tight and level.

We were very pleased with them and did not have a moment’s trouble. And we never had to dig maple tree seeds (and maple tree sprouts) out of the gutters ever again.

Unable to be of too much help, but I believe seamless gutters are made of a continuous roll of aluminum stock which is bent into the desired shape as it is unrolled.

We had gutters put on both of our houses over the past 18 years. Both in the Chicago area, which has snow and leaves like you.

Both times we had screens put on the top. Not the gutter helmets and stuff you see advertised. Just an aluminum screening material which goes under the shingles on the back, and is screwed to the gutter on the front. VERY effective at keeping out leaves. Never gave us any problems. Never have to clean out the gutters, despite large silver maples directly overhanging parts of the house.

One important element for us was the placement and design of the downspouts. It is definitely a good thing to get as much water as possible as far from your foundation as possible.

Amen to seamless gutters. I hire a sub to do guttering on site rather than joining sections for any work involving gutters over 10’. (I’m a general contractor). My present home has sectioned gutters and I’ve tried every sealant known to man and they all fail within 6 months.

Stay away from the spike and ferrule hanging method. It is a conduit of moisture into the fascia board, ultimately causing wet rot. Hidden hangers work well, but I have concerns about those additional roof penetrations on the windward side of the dwelling, unless the first 3’ was protected with Grace Ice and Water Dam® or a similar self-adhering product.

Still looking for an effective gutter guard. I put some on my Mom & Dad’s house and although they kept out the leaves, he reports the holes get filled up with pollen and tree detritus, such that the water bypasses the gutter. Every other design I’ve seen is effective for a finite length of time, and becomes something different to clean. That’s why I’ve resigned myself to climbing on the roof twice a year with a power blower.