Your gutters are your roof’s first line of defense against the elements. However, they won’t be able to do their job if their downspouts are spaced too far apart or placed too near to your home’s foundation.
To ensure your home’s roofing system and foundation are protected from moisture damage, your gutters’ downspouts and gutter hangers need to be adequately spaced.
General Rules for Downspout Placement
- There should be a downspout for every 40 linear feet of gutter – This is to ensure that rainwater doesn’t overflow and spill onto your concrete pavement.
- Downspouts should not be located near your house’s foundation or improperly pitched pavement stones and walkways – Paving stones and walkways that weren’t pitched properly may prevent rainwater from draining away, increasing the risk of water seeping into your home’s basement walls. That’s why the downspouts should be located away from your pavement stones and walkways. What if moving your downspouts isn’t an option? There’s the option of installing downspout extensions, which should move the water’s discharge point at least four feet away from your home.
What About Gutter Hangers?
The same goes for gutter hangers: they need to be spaced properly in order to provide enough support for your roof. If the gutter hangers are spread too far apart, they won’t be able to provide enough support, causing sections of your gutters to sag. As a general rule, gutter hangers should be spaced three feet or less or two feet apart if you live in a cold climate. This is to provide additional support for the extra weight load from ice and snow that accumulated in your gutters.
What Are the Different Types of Gutter Hangers?
Keep in mind not all gutter hangers can provide the same amount of support. Here’s an overview of the pros and cons of the most commonly used hanger types:
- Spikes and ferrules – As the name suggests, this hanger is made of a spike driven through a metal tube or ferrule. Spikes and ferrules are affordable and relatively easy to install. However, since metal is prone to thermal movement (it expands and contracts as temperatures rise and fall), spikes and ferrules will loosen over time. This type of hanger also isn’t the best choice if you have a wooden fascia board (the long, narrow board running along the edge of your roof). That’s because the spike splits the wooden surface, which in turn increases the risk of water infiltrating your roof.
- Brackets and straps – This type of gutter hanger is often used with half-round gutters. It’s a smart choice if your area receives a large amount of rainfall. That’s because bracket-and-strap-type hangers (which wrap themselves around your gutter system) can provide more support. The disadvantage of brackets and straps is that you need to be careful when cleaning them. If you’re not careful, you may accidentally dislodge them.
- Hidden hangers – This gutter hanger is often used to install K-style gutters, which happen to be the most popular type of gutter in the country. As the name suggests, hidden hangers (which are screwed to the fascia board from inside the gutter) are hidden from view, so you don’t have to worry about gutter hangers disrupting your home’s exterior design. Keep in mind that since hidden hangers don’t support the bottom of your gutter system, the support they provide depends on the rigidity of the gutter system itself. That’s why it’s important to choose a gutter material that can handle your area’s climate.
For more info about your options, consult a roof repair contractor.
What Are the Most Widely Used Gutter Materials?
- Vinyl – Vinyl is one of the most affordable options on the market, but they’re not necessarily the most cost-effective. That’s because they have shorter lifespans than other materials and don’t handle extreme temperatures very well. (Vinyl becomes brittle in freezing temperatures and may suffer warping in high temperatures.)
- Steel – There are two varieties of steel: galvanized steel (which can resist rust for 20 to 25 years) and stainless steel (which is fully corrosion-resistant).
- Aluminum – There are several reasons why aluminum is one of the most widely used gutter materials. It’s lightweight, durable, rust-resistant and cost-effective.
Here’s a tip: we recommend homeowners in areas that receive heavy snowfall to install aluminum gutter systems with 0.032- or 0.027-gauge thickness.
- Copper – Copper gutters are a bit on the pricey side, but they give the best value for your money. When it comes to durability, few materials come close to copper. (Copper gutters have an average lifespan of at least 50 years). Not to mention that they can add a sophisticated elegance to any exterior and boost its curb appeal.
To learn more about the pros and cons of each material, consult a local residential and commercial roofing services company. Since the pros are familiar with the local climate and building codes, they can make better recommendations.
Choosing the Right Gutter Size
Even with adequately spaced hangers and downspouts, rainwater could still overflow if your gutters are too small. For most parts of the country, five-inch K-style gutters or six-inch half-round gutters should be enough. However, depending on your roof’s pitch and the amount of rainfall your area receives, you may need larger gutters.
Why DIY Gutter Aren’t Worth the Trouble
To save on costs, some homeowners decide to install their new gutters themselves. However, contrary to what many think, DIY gutter installations and home improvement projects almost always end up costing homeowners more in the long run. That’s because it’s not uncommon for homeowners to commit basic – but costly – mistakes.
Here’s an overview of some of the common DIY installation and planning mistakes homeowners make:
- Underestimating the time needed to install gutters – A common mistake first-time DIYers make is underestimating the amount of time needed to finish a gutter installation project. The longer the delay, the longer your roof is left vulnerable to moisture damage (remember: gutters are your home’s first line of defense against the elements). Not to mention project delays can easily blow your budget.
- Installing the wrong gutter type – As mentioned earlier, K-style gutters are quite popular, partly thanks to the fact they can hold more water than other types of gutters. However, depending on your roofing system’s structure, half-round gutters (which are often installed in historic homes) might be a better choice. Remember: there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach in home improvement projects, and gutter replacement projects are no exception.
Given these risks, DIY gutter installations just don’t make practical – or financial – sense. That’s why it’s best to let professional roofers handle your gutter installation project.
Why Routine Gutter Maintenance Is Important
Keep in mind that to prevent rainwater from overflowing, you need to routinely clean your gutters. As a general rule, you should clean your gutters every three months, although you may have to do it more frequently depending on the kind of trees near your home. As for your roof, you should have a residential and commercial roofing services company inspect it at least twice a year.
One more thing: to make sure your roofers don’t miss any warning signs of roof damage, you should vet them to make sure they’re qualified for the job.
Orion Home Improvements LLC, a company with more than a decade of experience, offers a wide range of professional roofing services, including gutter replacement and roof repair services.