Roof Gutters 101: Everything You Need To Know

Man Installing Roof GuttersYou know you’ve got to get some roof gutters up, but you’re not sure what you need to do. Don’t worry: we’ve got a complete overview of roof gutter solutions, from figuring out how much you need, to keeping it clean when it’s up.

Design

There are two considerations with designing roof gutter systems on paper: the length of the roof gutter itself, and how wide it needs to be. The first part is fairly simple: you and a friend get up on ladders with a measuring tape and figure out the length of the roof on the downslope of each of its panels. That gives you the length.

But how about the width? That’s a little more involved. First, check local zoning laws; it’s very possible some official has already figured out the gutter size you need. You’ll need to figure out the square area of your roof, which is just some basic math, and find the average rainfall of the area you live in, easily found with a Google search. Obviously, the bigger the roof and the more rain you get, the bigger the roof gutters you’ll need. If you’re really stuck, ask the guys at the hardware store what their most commonly sold size is.

Choose a downspout area well away from your foundation where water can be emptied and soaked up by something other than your basement. For downspouts, a good rule is one for every forty feet of gutter, and to use a 2″x3″ for roofs smaller than 600 square feet, and a 3″x4″ for roofs over 600 square feet. This may be a bit different, depending on your rainfall statistics.

Then you’ll need to choose material. All materials have their benefits and drawbacks; choose something you know will be right for you. There are also considerations of seamless versus sectional gutters; seamless roof gutters will generally leak less but cost more, while with sectional gutters it’s the opposite.

Finally, of course, we recommend you consider installing a roof gutter protection system at the same time. Better to get it installed now than do it after mucking everything out! The same is true of any heating wires or other ice dam prevention devices you may be considering.

And keep an eye on your gutters; look for signs that they’re not draining, such as icicles or water dripping over the sides.

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Roof Gutters Installation

Woman Installing Roof GuttersIf you’re installing yourself, first lay out your roof gutters in front of the part of the house where you’ll be installing them. Weld on any end caps and cut any holes for downspouts you may need. Then go up and install your hangers, keeping safety in the forefront: keep people away from any area where tools or materials may fall.

Install your hangers on architectual supports, such as rafters, and space them closely together. This keeps the roof gutters from sagging, which can lead to stagnant water, or ripping off your house in high winds. Hang the gutters so there’s a slight pitch towards the downspout; one to two inches every forty feet will do you just fine.

Weld together any corners and attach the downspouts with welding or zip screws. Then install your roof gutter guards, like Gutter Helmet®, and your ice dam prevention system if you need one, and you’re all set. It’s not a difficult task to install gutters; it’s just risky and time consuming.

Maintenance

Maintaining your roof gutter is fairly straightforward: every three months or so, go up and take a look. Clean out any debris if you don’t use a guard system; there are dozens of tools on the market to help with that. And keep an eye on your gutters; look for signs that they’re not draining, such as icicles or water dripping over the sides. Patch any holes as soon as possible.

Do all that, and you’ll have a roof gutter that’s long-lasting and keeps you dry in even the worst weather. Happy hanging!