Gutters are essential for maintaining the quality of your home. By collecting rainwater rushing down the roof of your house, gutters capture water as it falls. The gutter system allows the water to follow a designated path, preventing damage to the home and immediate area. The foundation does not collect an extensive amount of water, and the soil around the home is protected.
A common home project that is successfully completed by homeowners is gutter installation. This project is great for those who enjoy working around their home and engaging in manual labor. The following is what you need to know before you take on gutter installation and how to properly complete this project.
Table of Contents
- Before You Install Gutters
- How To Install Gutters On Your Home
- Gutter Installation Do’s and Dont’s
- Remember to Maintain Your Gutters
Before You Install Gutters
Getting started with gutter installations begins with gathering the right materials for the project. Knowing the proper dimensions of the project is essential in order to gather the right amount of material in the first haul. Depending on the size of the project, you will need to gather the following items before getting started.
- Wood replacement
- Gutter runs
- Mounting straps
- Tin Snips
- Fascia Brackets
- Roof Nails
- Roof Screws
- Tool set
The gathered materials for the process requires a number of items. Among the different materials is a wood replacement for any areas on your home that has suffered damage and needs to be repaired before adding the weight of gutters to the home. Make sure that the wood gathered is treated wood so it can manage the different elements and exposure for long periods of time. Additionally, your fascia brackets will need to be secured to these boards. If you do not have any wood along the side of your home, you will need to purchase it for this system.
The additional materials you need will be for the gutters and are needed to join and hold the gutters in place. When gathering materials like elbows and mounting straps, it is a good idea to grab a few extra just in case you have a few issues during installation. It is important to buy quality materials while shopping. All of these materials can be purchased at your local home improvement store, as gutter installations and repairs are a common DIY project for many homeowners.
How To Install Gutters On Your Home
Once you have gathered your materials and developed a plan for your project, it is time to start the gutter installation process. There are several steps you must do in a specific order so that your gutters are installed properly and secured on your home.
Cutting and Joining
Before actually moving the gutters and the pieces to your home, you will want to cut the material on the ground to fit the proper dimensions. Cutting on the ground is easier and more precise. Take this opportunity to preassemble the gutters and join them together, because attempting to assemble and cut on a ladder above your head will not only produce inaccuracies, but it can create an unnecessary safety risk. During this time, you will want to make sure that the gutter runs are the proper length of the home and are cut to join with the other parts of the gutter system.
Using the caulk, you will want to join the gutter systems together at the corners so they are properly sealed and prevent water from leaking through the system. Caulk is strong and prevents water from breaking through in these corners. Additionally, when you are cutting the length of your gutter runs, make sure the ends extend a few inches beyond the roof to capture the excess water coming down from overhanging shingles.
Add Downspouts and Outlets
Once you have outlined your gutter runs for your home, you will need to attach the downspouts, which are used to carry the rushing water safely down the side of the home and protect the roof and siding from excessive water damage. At the bottom of the downspouts should be outlets where the water leaves the gutter system, and you will want to ensure that the water is not pooling in the same place and causing damage to the foundation.
In order to properly cut and install these outlets, you will need to use the duckbill tin snips so that these outlets allow water to safely and quickly leave the downspout. You do not want the water to start pooling in the downspout, as too much water will become heavy and could damage the downspout.
Hang Gutter Sections
Before you start hanging the newly assembled gutters, it is pertinent to set your proper slope. You need to do this by first hammering a nail a half-inch into the roof, at least a half-inch below the shingles and on the higher side of the gutter run. You do not need a large slope, but just enough to keep the water moving once it hits the gutters and traveling towards the downspouts and outlets. If it sits flat, then the water could pool too fast during heavy rain and tear the gutter down from the weight.
Apply your fascia brackets with a chalk line so you can straighten them upon application. After you have set your slope for your gutters, it is time to start hanging the different gutter sections. Use a small slope in each gutter section for about 8 or 10 feet to keep the water traveling to the downspout. During heavy rainfall, this keeps the water moving quickly and clearing out the gutters faster than the rain can fall.
Add Flashing and Hangers
Along the gutter installation should be shutter flashings to prevent the water from building on the roof. After you have hung all of your gutter sections, you will need to go back around this system and apply these flashing pieces to prevent any further damage. Use one-inch roofing nails to secure these flashing and ensure that they will stay and not strip over time due to exposure. Keeping water from behind the gutters means that your soffit and fascia will be protected from the water also, and prolong their lifespan on your home. Since they are the strength behind the gutter system, it is essential to keep them protected so that your gutter system lasts for a long time.
The hangers that you will install on the gutter installation process are often hidden. You need to install these hangers at least every 2 feet or shorter to ensure the security of the gutter runs along the sides of the home. They are screwed into the backside of the gutter run, hidden from view and easy to complete. Run the screw through the gutter run and the fascia, screwing it to the board beneath. You may want to screw in a few additional hangers to the corners and sides of the gutter runs are caulked together as an extra precaution. This step only takes a few additional minutes and cannot harm the overall gutter system.
After the above steps have been completed, the downspouts are applied last. The elbows need to be attached to the downspouts so they are directed properly to release the rainwater. When screwing the elbow to the downspout, you will want about an inch to an inch and half of the overlap so that the pieces are secured together after being screwed in. Make sure the downspout is secured in the outlet and turned away from electric lines or sidewalks near the home. How the water empties out is as important as getting it down from the roof. It should not be causing further damage to the foundation or anything connected to the home.
Crimp the bottom of the downspout so that the water flows with ease out of the downspout, even at a fast pace. Once you have placed the downspout, you need to secure it to the wall of your home by fastening it with brackets. Depending on whether your home is brick, wood, or vinyl, you will need to screw in these brackets to secure the downspouts along with your home.
Gutter Installation Do’s and Dont’s
Installing gutters on your home includes a list of things you should do during the project and things you should avoid.
When You Install Your Gutters, Remember to…
- always do your cutting on the ground. Do not attempt to cut while on a ladder for a number of safety reasons.
- install enough downspouts across your home. Unless the length of your home is longer than 40 feet, you need one at each end to capture the water and keep it from pooling in the gutters.
- install a downspout for each roof if your home has more than one.
- use aluminum gutters for your project, as they have a longer lifespan than plastic gutters.
- carry the water away from the foundation of your home at least five feet or more.
While Installing Gutters, Do Not…
- allow the draining from an upper roof to fall onto a lower roof. Have a lower gutter system in place to catch that water and protect the shingles on the lower roof.
- forget your slope during the gutter installation. This allows the rainwater to continue traveling and not pool in one place.
- assume that all systems fit one house. Your home measurements are different than other homes and may require additional materials.
- sacrifice quality for prices. Properly installed gutters maximize the lifespan and quality of your roof and home exterior. Do not sacrifice quality gutters or materials you need because they may cost a little more.
- skimp on hangers and brackets. The gutter system is only as good as its security. Ensure that these gutter runs and downspouts are fastened well and secure.
Remember to Maintain Your Gutters
After you have successfully installed gutters on your home, they require maintenance each season. In addition to water, these gutters collect leaves and pine straw over time. When a good rain comes and these gutters are full of leaves, the water will not flow properly and could fill with water, causing it to come out and over the gutters. If it becomes too heavy, the gutters themselves could fall. Once a month, you should clean out your gutters and remove any debris so that the debris does not build and prevent the rainwater from flowing. You may want to wear safety gloves and safety glasses when completing gutter maintenance.
Prior to the winter months, you will need to make sure that there is no water sitting in your gutters. When the temperatures start to freeze, any water pooled in your gutters can turn to ice, and the weight of the ice can damage your gutters. Also, any snow on your roof that is trying to melt will not have anywhere to go, leaving the potential for damage.
As you clean and inspect your gutters each month, look at your brackets and hangers. Make sure they are still holding the gutter runs together, and replace any that may be damaged. Also, the areas where you have caulked your gutters may need more once or twice a year to keep them sealed. As long as you maintain your gutter system, you will continue to protect your home from excessive water damage, prolonging the life of your roof and protecting the foundation of your home from excess water.