Gutter Assembly Instructions
People rarely consider the fact that gutters exist in various sizes. While white and brown channels are the most common, homeowners now have a wide range of options when it comes to color. In New York, I constructed a Marine barracks decorated entirely in crimson. Everything from the gutters and downspouts to the fascias, soffits, louvers, and vents matched in a bright red. Modern air conditioners and windows come in a wide variety of unique colors.
Standard home gutters are four inches wide by four inches high, with downspouts or leaders measuring three inches in diameter. In some circumstances, a more considerable drain may be necessary due to the extensive size of the roof. Similar to the more common four-inch kind, more oversized five-inch gutters are also on the market. The downspouts’ diameter has been expanded from 3 to 4 inches to deal with the higher volume of water. If the downspouts are too small, water can spill over the gutter’s edge, flood the basement, or destroy the landscaping below.
Gutter systems known as “Yankee Gutters” are also on the market. These fixtures are integral to the roof and do not project past the eaves. Yankee Gutters are a type of gutter commonly utilized in New England that are said to reduce the risk of damage caused by sliding snow. These are effective and can be as comprehensive as 12 inches to collect all the water that falls from the roof. But they need regular upkeep to stay leak-free. Water can enter the home quickly because the gutter is located within the outer wall line. These gutters are almost a century old, a testament to their quality installation and regular cleanings.
Gutter systems are never without downspouts. These are offered in ten-foot straight and Type A and Type B elbow configurations. There are also gutter straps that are a perfect color match. Falling water puts a high weight on the pipe and fittings and can tear a downspout loose from the gutter or home, so it’s essential to make sure yours is properly fastened.
I use two rivets of the same color to secure each section of pipe and fit the downspout once I’ve arranged them to my satisfaction. Extra clips used to attach the straps to the leader pipe make for a finished product that is aesthetically pleasing and resistant to separation.
A proper gutter system should also direct water away from the house’s base once it exits the downspout. The downspout end can be attached to a commercial device that rolls out when water pressure in the leader is high enough. The sprinkler-like openings in the plastic roll ensure that the water trickles out slowly, sparing the grass and plants below.
Aftermarket gutter accessories come in a wide variety to keep leaves and other debris out of gutters. To avoid water damage from overflowing drains, gutters should be cleaned at least once a year. Gutter cleaning can be done from the ground or a short ladder using a garden hose and a washer attachment. Various leaf guards can be installed inside the gutter’s top lip to keep leaves out. Some are effective, while others are not.
Despite the name, one “gutter” system is not a gutter at all. These items are rain splashers, rain guards, and similar expressions. In cross-section, they resemble louver blades due to the fins that comprise the structure. The guards disperse the water from the roof’s downspouts so that it hits a greater surface area before it reaches the ground just below the eave borders. However, they don’t divert water from the base, so that’s something to consider before putting them in.
Gutter parts are available in prefabricated lengths of ten feet. Gutter splices and caulk are required to create a more extended gutter. If you want your gutters to last as long as possible without sagging or leaking at the seams, you should install a seamless gutter. Companies that install gutters will bring a particular machine on a trailer to your house and roll out guttering of any desired length. They can also install the outlet and end caps. Attempting to manage a gutter that is twenty, thirty, or forty feet in length is no simple task. If you buy the channel and plan to install it yourself, remember that you are responsible for any damage caused by bending or kinking. Having the contractor put it in is a brilliant idea.
DIY gutter installations longer than 10 feet often require at least two people. You will also need metal drill bits, rivets, a rivet gun, gutter caulking, gutter spikes, ferrules, roof gutter straps, and ladders. Starting a couple of inches from either end and directly over the downspout outlet(s), I hammer in a nail every two feet in the center. Caulk both ends before adding the downspout outlets and riveting them into place. A downspout at one end of a single 10-foot gutter should be sufficient. Nails and ferrules are one option, while roof straps are another for hanging gutters. A modern mount is installed by screwing it into the fascia with a power drill after fitting it into the channel and locking it onto its lips. There will be no visible signs of mounting with this kind. Spikes and ferrules, with the ferrules inserted into the gutter lips, Insert a tip through the opening in the ferrule and into the outside face of the gutter. If you hit the end hard enough, it will go right through the channel and into the ferrule. Drive the spike through the back of the gutter and into the fascia board once the drain is positioned precisely where you want the finished height. The points should not be driven in entirely. Move along the gutter at intervals of two feet until you reach the other end.
Put down the ladder and inspect the downspout. Is there a modest incline toward the downspout opening? Too much tilt would be pronounced. You should adjust the gutter pitch before driving the spikes into the wood. Please do not compress the gutter or ferrules as you move the ends flush with the channel if you are satisfied with the drain. Gutter spikes have pre-finished head colors of either white or dark brown.
In my opinion, using roof straps is the worst possible installation option. They should be employed if the fascia board is flimsy or nonexistent. The belt is attached to the rafters below the lowest shingle and protrudes from the eave. Once the strap assembly is complete, the gutter can be inserted within and secured. I’ve seen these straps installed by nailing their faces into the underside of the tiles, which is a bad idea because it will cause leaks over time.
After the gutters have been attached, the downspouts can be implemented. There are two common types of downspout connections: A and B. One of the elbows is flat, while the other is bent; both are roughly 45 degrees. Try out different configurations of fittings and solid downspout piping on the ground until you have a complete downspout. A final length of downspout can be created by bending the elbows slightly and utilizing left and right fittings to clear other obstacles on the way to the ground or splash block below.
Use two tiny galvanized self-tapping sheet metal screws to secure the downspout to the gutter outlet. At some point, you’ll probably want to take the downspout off to clean it. Now, using the downspout bracket you affixed to the pipe with rivets, bend the flat frame to flush its two ends with your home’s siding and wrap it securely around the downspout pipe. Nail the straps to the main structure using galvanized roofing nails. One strap should be placed where the downspout first makes contact with the house, and another should be placed above the downspout’s elbow. Pull on the gutter. Remember that during a storm, a great deal of water could pass through this pipe at once and that in colder climates, the water could freeze if exposed to freezing rain or ice. The downspouts will fail if the wall brackets are not appropriately fastened or short straps are used.
Finally, a worthwhile expenditure is to install splash blocks beneath each downspout’s exit. You should establish a splash block if your downspout empties onto a concrete or asphalt driveway. The surface of your driveway or patio can quickly deteriorate under the weight of concentrated water gushing from a downspout. The splash block aids in diverting water away from the foundation and stops soil from eroding next to it. It’s possible to find concrete, plastic, or fiberglass splash blocks. You can choose based on final appearance and cost, as all three options serve their intended purpose well.
If it’s not required by the building code or necessary, I won’t install gutters. When a door is located at the gable end of a structure, a drain must be installed above it. A channel along its entire length is unnecessary. Leaves and other debris get caught in gutters, leading to ice dams in snowy locations and regular maintenance. I stay away from them whenever I can.
I hope your gutter installation goes smoothly.
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Pete Ackerson has been a building inspector for almost 30 years and has worked in both the public and private sectors. He has experience in both the office of building design and the field of construction in the Eastern United States, having worked on a wide range of projects from schools to treatment plants, individual residences, and condo projects to major residential landscaping projects. Together with two other building inspectors, he established Wagsys LLC in 2006, which developed applications for local governments’ building departments, planning boards, and zoning boards of appeals.