A Guide to Replacing Gutters

May 23, 2014

By Staff Writer

Malfunctioning gutters can lead to water damage, erosion and compromised foundations — and mucky ones can be a breeding ground for mold and mosquitoes. Help prevent these problems by replacing gutters when they’re in disrepair. Here's what to consider.

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Material

Gutter materials vary in price, durability and function.

  • Galvanized steel: A popular choice; ranges from $4 to $8 per linear foot; can withstand ladders and fallen tree branches; may rust over time
  • Aluminum: Favored over steel because of its anti-rusting qualities; $5 to $9 per linear foot
  • Vinyl: Easy to cut to size; good DIY option; $3 to $5 per linear foot; may become brittle with age or extreme temperatures
  • Wood: Used primarily for restoration projects; expensive; $12 to $20 per linear foot; high maintenance
  • Copper: Aesthetically pleasing; never rusts; expensive; around $15 per linear foot.

Style

Once you’ve selected the material for your new gutters, look into the different types.

  • Sectional: Sold in 10- to 22-foot-long pieces and made of vinyl, painted steel or painted aluminum, sectional gutters are particularly easy for DIY installation because they’re made of smaller sections joined by connectors.
  • Seamless or continuous: Typically aluminum — though they can be found in copper and galvanized steel — seamless gutters join only at corners and downspouts, making them less likely to leak. Call a professional to install them.

Size

Gutter size depends on two factors: regional rainfall and roof dimensions. The most common sizes are 5 to 6 inches, and downspouts typically have a 3- to 4-inch diameter. You can calculate your home's gutter size, but a professional can help eliminate guesswork.

Installation

Hiring a contractor can save time and hassle. Select the right professional with these helpful tips:

  • Interview a few candidates, and check your local Better Business Bureau for any complaints filed against your finalists.
  • Ask for references.
  • Make sure the contractor is licensed in your state.
  • Ask for a copy of their business insurance and workers’ compensation policy to avoid liability.
  • Request a detailed description of the work you’re hiring them to do.
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