When will you need a gutter replacement? This depends on several factors. Barry Best Seamless Gutters explains everything you need to know about the timing of a new gutter installation below.
Galvanized steel and aluminum gutters, the most common type of gutters, have an average lifespan of 20 years, while copper gutters, a more high-end option, can last up to 50 years. You should keep a detailed record of gutter inspections, maintenance and repair, as this will help you determine when it’s time to plan for gutter replacement.
Frequency of Maintenance
Keep in mind the estimated lifespan of a gutter system can be drastically reduced by improper or irregular maintenance. Regardless of how durable a gutter system is, it needs to be cleaned regularly.
Unfortunately, not a lot of homeowners have the time for tedious but essential tasks like gutter cleaning. One way of reducing your gutter’s maintenance requirements is by installing gutter covers. These devices help prevent leaves and other kinds of organic debris from entering and clogging your gutters.
Gutter Helmet® is the only gutter guard that comes with a Never Clean Your Gutters Again® guarantee. Its patented nose-forward design allows rainwater to flow to the drains while keeping debris out.
Climate is another factor that can affect your gutters’ lifespan. For instance, cold climates can be harsh on your exterior, and your gutters are no exception. Of the numerous problems homes in cold climates face, ice dams can be one of the most problematic. That’s because ice deposited near the edges of your roof and gutters prevent snowmelt from draining, causing water to back up and possibly make its way under the shingles.
Preventing Ice Dams
How do you prevent ice dams? While poor attic insulation and ventilation are the main culprits behind ice dams, clogged gutters can increase the risk of ice dams. As such, gutter guards can partially reduce the risk of ice dams. However, a more effective way to avoid this issue is to install heated gutter systems.
These systems feature heating cables to melt ice before it accumulates. Some brands like Helmet Heat® use a self-regulating heating cable that automatically adjusts its temperature to ensure moisture cannot freeze on the surface. If you’re considering installing gutter covers, Helmet Heat is fully compatible with Gutter Helmet. Since Helmet Heat’s cables are installed under your gutter covers, it won’t interfere with your gutter guards or disrupt your curb appeal.
If you want to learn more about Gutter Helmet and the brand’s premium heated gutter systems, Barry Best Seamless Gutters is a certified Gutter Helmet and Helmet Heat installer.
Even the most durable gutter system won’t last long if it’s not installed properly. For instance, water can pool in a gutter system with an incorrect pitch. Not only can stagnant water attract disease-carrying pests such as mosquitoes, but it also creates a damp environment that’s the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew. That’s why the quality of the gutter installation is so important.
The Warning Signs
Of course, only an experienced gutter contractor can give you an accurate estimate of your gutter’s remaining lifespan. They’ll start their assessment by looking for the warning signs of gutter damage. These include:
Overflowing rainwater – Leaves, pine needles, twigs and other kinds of organic debris are the usual culprits behind rainwater overflowing from your gutters. Other times, the capacity of your gutters might be to blame. If your gutters don’t have enough capacity to handle the amount of rainfall your area receives, rainwater will inevitably overflow. You need to install a gutter system with a bigger capacity as soon as possible. Otherwise, the overflowing water might seep into your home’s foundation.
Nails or broken fasteners on the ground – If your gutters can’t handle the combined weight of rainwater and accumulated debris, nails and broken fasteners might start to give in and fall to the ground.
Sagging gutters – If the fasteners don’t give in under the added weight load, sections of your gutters might. The problem with gutters that start to pull away from your exterior is that they impede the flow of water. Due to the gutters’ tilted angle, water can get trapped in sections of your gutters, increasing the risk of mold and pest infestations.
Gutter leaks – In some cases, your gutters might give in completely. Under added weight load, sections of your gutters might start to pull apart at the seams, creating leaks. This is less of a concern with seamless gutters.
Spotting a gutter leak should be easy enough on a rainy day. You should also watch out for signs of moisture damage, such as a rotting fascia board (the long wooden board the gutters are attached to), water stains inside your home (the first signs of roof water damage usually appear in your attic) or puddles near the downspouts or your siding.
Dents – Tiny dents and cracks might not seem like a significant issue now, but wear and tear can widen cracks and deepen dents, eventually causing leaks. It’s best to address relatively minor issues before they worsen, potentially affecting other parts of your home.
Rust – Rust usually appears at the bottom of aging gutters, although peeling paint is the usual cause of rust. That’s because it leaves sections of your gutters exposed to the elements.
Keep in mind that most of the time, the warning signs of gutter damage are subtle and easy to miss. As such, the only way to know if your gutters are in good condition is to have an experienced contractor inspect and maintain them.
Choosing a Gutter System That Will Last
If you need to replace your gutters, it’s important to choose a system that’s suited to your area’s climate. Remember: when making an investment, always do your research. To help you get started, here’s an overview of the most common gutter materials:
Aluminum – There’s a reason why aluminum gutters are the most popular gutter type on the market. Aluminum is lightweight but durable, being able to resist corrosion. Plus, aluminum gutters are available in a wide variety of colors.
Zinc – Zinc gutters are manufactured using an alloy made from 99.5 percent zinc and tiny amounts of copper and titanium. If you want a more durable alternative to aluminum, zinc gutters would be a good choice as they can last twice as long as aluminum gutters.
Galvanized steel – Another popular choice is galvanized steel gutters. Galvanized steel is coated with a layer of zinc to protect it from rust.
Copper – Copper is one of the most expensive—but also one of the most durable—options on the market.
You might also want to consider installing seamless gutters. Since they lack joints—a weak point in conventional gutter systems—they last longer than standard gutter systems. To make the most of your new seamless gutters, make sure to obtain a strong warranty. Our custom US-made seamless gutters come with a 20-year manufacturer’s warranty that covers labor and installation.
One more thing: only qualified contractors should install your gutters. Always vet a contractor before hiring them. Here’s a vetting tip: the number of years a contractor has been working in the industry should give you a good idea of their level of expertise.
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