Gutter replacement is a job normally performed by professional roofing contractors. However, a homeowner with the right tools and a decent amount of DIY skill can more than likely handle the job. The key to successful gutter installation is to not take anything (or any step) for granted. The following is a step-by-step process on how to properly replace gutters without causing damage to other parts of your roofing structure or foundation.
Step 1 – Preparing for Installation
Successful gutter installation starts with adequate preparation. The first thing to do when replacing gutters is to take measurements that will tell you how much materials will need to be purchased – including the downspouts and joints you’ll need for complete assembly. You’ll want to double check your measurements a second time to ensure the information is 100% accurate.
Assuming you are replacing existing gutters, a “like-for-like” swap is the best way to go. Draw a sketch of the existing gutter system or, better yet, take pictures with your smart phone. Don’t rely just on your pictures or sketches, though. Still take measurements to ensure you purchase the right amount of materials. While you’re gathering all of this information, make a point to familiarize yourself with how the current gutter system is assembled.
Step 2 – Remove Old Parts
Before you begin the gutter replacement process, you’ll have to remove all of the old parts. Professional gutter contractors recommend against trying to reuse old parts unless they have been purchased within the last year or two. Anything older than that probably won’t work well with your new gutter system.
Removing old parts includes gutters, brackets, downspouts, joints, straps, and fasteners. You may notice the fascia looks pretty beat up after removing the old gutters. If this is the case, consider priming and painting it before you install your new gutters. Also consider filling in the nail holes with a silicone caulk.
The final step before actual installation involves snapping a chalk line. To do this, locate and mark the highest point for an individual gutter run. It should be roughly 1.25 inches below the flashing. Then mark the lowest point at the other end of the run, creating a slope of a quarter inch for every 10 feet. Snap a chalk line between those two points. This is the line on which you will install the new gutters.
Step 3 – Install the New Gutters
The next step is to install gutter brackets along the chalk line by screwing or nailing them to the fascia. The manufacturer of your particular gutters should provide instructions for doing so. Once the brackets are in place, you’ll be ready to cut your gutters and downspouts. This is another situation in which you’ll want to make sure to measure twice.
Use jigsaw to cut gutters to length. Next, mark where the downspouts will connect and cut holes for them. Make sure you do this BEFORE you actually hang your gutters. Now insert the cut lengths of the gutter into the gutter brackets, and secure them according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You can use gutter joints to link multiple lengths together to avoid waste. Be sure to use straps and caulk on any joints to prevent leakage.
Step 4 – Adding Downspouts
You should not need to cut downspouts to length in most cases. Downspouts are assembled by simply fitting sections together. When you connect your downspouts to the gutter, you’ll need to put at least one screw in place to hold it. The downspout connector goes in first, then the first section downspout fits on the connector. You will place your screw in that area where the downspout and connector overlap. Be sure to caulk around the connector as well.
Continue adding sections of downspout until the total length is about 1 foot off the ground. At each junction, insert a screw or two to hold the downspout together. You can affix the downspout to the corner of the house with a few straps and nails.
At the bottom of the downspout, you should fit an elbow to channel water away from the foundation. Put a stone or plastic splash block down to carry water away.
Step 5 – Finish with Flashing and Guards
The last step is to apply new flashing between the edge of the roof and the new gutter, if required. If the existing flashing is already in good condition, you may not need to do anything. You might also want to apply gutter guards to keep debris out of your gutters. Aluminum and vinyl gutter guards are affordable and easy to install. In most cases, you simply cut them to length and lay them in the gutter trough.
When to Call a Professional
Although gutter repair and replacement is something some homeowners do on their own, you may want to call a professional if you don’t have the right tools and knowledge for the job. A professional contractor will get the job done quickly and efficiently, while ensuring the highest quality of work.
If you need to replace your gutters, we invite you to contact A & J Reliable. We are professional roofers and gutter contractors with years of experience. Not only will we handle a job you don’t really want to do, we guarantee to do it the right way. You’ll enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing your gutters were installed properly. You’ll also enjoy years of reliable service thanks to the superior work we do.