Gutters and downspouts easily fall into disrepair without ongoing maintenance. As an enterprising homeowner, it’s easy to decide to do some quick gutter repair work yourself; you save a few bucks, get some experience working on your home, and generate some homeowner pride! Before you charge into your gutter repair project blindly however, it’s important to be aware of the most common mistakes people make while trying to do a DIY job on guttering. We’re all for productivity and home improvement, but, going by the number of things that can go wrong, hiring a professional may be a more sensible choice when it comes to gutter installation depending on your needs and circumstances.
Performing maintenance tasks on gutters in general can cause problems that aren’t quite as easy a fix as the original issue. Mistakes can be made even if you’re just cleaning them or improving them in places; never mind installing them from scratch. Regardless of whether you ultimately decide to do it yourself or hire a professional, take some time to familiarize yourself with some of the most common DIY gutter installation mistakes.
Installing Gutters with the Wrong Pitch
Many homeowners make the mistake of installing gutters that are either too level or too forward. Gutters that are too level won’t drain water from the roof: instead, it will fill the gutter like a mini swimming pool and eventually overflow, instead of acting as a sieve for the water coming off the roof. Gutters that are pitched at the wrong angle (usually too forward) won’t drain roof water as effectively.
Incorrect pitch also increases the chance of there being even a tiny gap between the gutter and the edge of the roof, meaning that water can escape down the side of the house and potentially damage the foundations of your house over time. This is one of the common mistakes made while repairing gutters. As a general rule, a gutter should slope no more than one inch for every forty feet of distance from the roof.
Using the Wrong Type of Gutter
Gutters obviously come in many different shapes, sizes and materials. As a non-professional, it can be confusing and difficult to decide which type of gutter is the best for your home. Many homeowners attempting to do their own guttering, or choosing types of gutter just for repairing it in places, run the risk of choosing the wrong type of gutter. The key here is to buy the best quality material you possibly can with your budget.
Even if you choose to do it yourself, you should at least consult with an experienced home contractor who is informed about types of guttering. Roof contractors or suppliers, for example, will possess a wealth of knowledge about the best type of gutter for your home. Regarding material, aluminum is the most popular choice. The gauge and the width are two other factors which need to be taken into consideration when deciding what type of gutter to use.
Mistaken Placement Decisions
It’s a common assumption that gutter should be hung directly at the edge of the roof. This is a dangerous myth that can actually inhibit the function of the guttering. Water sliding down the roof doesn’t act as predictably as this: in fact, it often draws back up on the underside of the roof. For this reason, guttering should actually be placed a few inches under the roof, so that it can catch the water that often drips underneath it.
Incorrect Hanger Spacing
Hangers are used to fix the gutter to the roof, and they provide a support structure for the entire gutter. If they are spaced too far apart, they will not support the gutter adequately, meaning that it will sag in the middle. We have all seen gutters that look like this: a gutter that sags is a gutter that doesn’t carry out its job effectively. The standard spacing for hangers is approximately three feet, but they should be placed closer together in areas that have long-lasting snow or sleet. This is because melting snow places additional pressure on the gutter, so it needs the extra support it gets from the hangers that are fixed closer together. Thus, you should factor in the Northern Virginia climate when calculating the hanger space between the sections of gutter.
Using Too Many Seams
You may think that the more seams the better, but in actual fact using too many seams when installing guttering weakens the sections and can cause them to separate from one another. The seams are the weakest point of gutters, so the more you have, the weaker the entire thing is. Moreover, seams are usually welded together, and if you don’t weld them correctly, they are even more prone to becoming separated or weakened. Extreme temperatures; both hot and cold, and harsh weather such as heavy winds or rain, can really wreak havoc on seams, so if they’re not welded to professional standard you’ll find they won’t be very durable at all.
DIY or Professional: Which Should You Choose?
There are some maintenance jobs around the home that are prime candidates for a do-it-yourselfer, while others are simply better completed by a professional. It can be very tempting to do everything yourself for numerous reasons including saving on labor costs and gaining a sense of pride when you see the finished result, but when it comes to gutter maintenance, repair, or installation it really is best to hire a gutter professional who knows what they’re doing because of the risks faced down the road from incorrect installation. From our experience, there are simply too many things that can go wrong if you decide to take on this project yourself.
This could mean that a job that will be completed in one doing may take you numerous attempts to get it right. Who wants to spend the foreseeable future of weekends trying to get a satisfactory result when you could be out enjoying time with family and friends instead. Dishing out some cash on an expert will not only save you the laborious task of fixing the guttering yourself, it will give you and your family peace of mind that your gutter project has been done right.