Most homes require a gutter system that helps the roof system shed rainwater as quickly and efficiently as possible. A well-functioning gutter system also keeps water off siding and ensures that water is channeled far enough away from the home as not to undermine the foundation. Installing new gutters is a significant investment, and an integral factor in the choices you’ll make is how your gutters will last. Some gutter systems will only be expected to last a decade while others can last a lifetime in the right conditions. The life expectancy of your gutters will be determined by a wide range of factors.
Gutter Material and Life Expectancy
Gutters are made from a wide range of materials:
- Galvanized steel
How long your gutters can be expected to last depend on the inherent longevity of the material but also how well suited to the climate that material is. Vinyl gutters are an excellent example. These are the most affordable gutters on the market and can last 20 years or more in a dry and humid climate. In harsher climates, however, they often have to be replaced every decade, which makes them less appealing.
Aluminum is by far the most common material and can last 20 years in most U.S. climates and upward of 30 years in some. Steel gutters are sturdier and more easily last 30 years but require more maintenance. Zinc and copper are high-end options. Zinc can last 80 years and requires little maintenance as it is self-sealing. Copper will last 50 years and upwards of 100 depending on the climate, and while it is an expensive choice, many homeowners love the aesthetics and traditional appeal.
Gutter Style and Life Expectancy
The four main gutter styles used in the U.S. are:
- K-style gutters
- Box-style gutters
- Half-round gutters
- Custom fascia gutters
Which gutter style is right for you depends on a number of factors, including the climate and style of your home. You must also consider the width of the gutter, which dictates the flow. Wider gutters will cost more but are necessary in areas with heavy rainfall and will last longer in those climates.
Half-round gutters have a curved lip and a semicircular design. They were popular pre-1960s but are still common for brick homes and often required by code for historic homes. K-style is the most popular gutter style and available in 5- and 6-inch widths. Custom fascia gutters provide the most contemporary look and are tailored made to the home. These tend to have the longest lifespan. Box-style gutters are generally used in commercial and industrial applications. That said, they can be adapted for residential use to handle high volumes of water, but a downside is that due to the nature of the design, they are generally only practical to install when the home is built or the roof is replaced.
There are two main manufacturing processes used for gutters: prefabricated and roll-formed on-site. The advantages of prefabricated gutters are that they can be made in high volume at a low cost and are accessible to the do-it-yourself homeowner as they come in precut pieces. The downside is that precut pieces result in many joints, and those joints are prone to wear and tear and eventually leaking.
Seamless gutters are typically made on-site using a roll-forming machine. The gutter installers will measure the home or business and then form and cut the needed pieces to a precise length. The advantage here is that joints are minimized and generally reserved for corners. The downside is that seamless gutters are more expensive. But that initial expense has to be put into perspective. A sectional aluminum gutter may last 15 years whereas a seamless aluminum gutter may last 25 years. In other words, seamless gutters often provide the customer a lower total cost of ownership.
Gutter Guards Extend Gutter Life
Most gutter experts also recommend installing gutter guards. While they do increase the installation cost, they extend the life of the gutter system and pay for themselves by decreasing the total cost of ownership. Gutter guards block dirt and debris without interfering with shedding water and therefore prevent clogs and help to avoid the kind of accumulation that wears your gutters down over time. Gutter guards also save you money or at least time in that they significantly reduce how often a gutter system needs to be cleaned.
Heavy-Duty Hangars Extend Gutter Life
Among the most common gutter problems is gutters that pull away from the house or building. If not dealt with quickly, this pressure can lead to damage that cannot be fixed and requires the gutters to be replaced. In order to avoid this, know which fastening system is being used for your home. Assess whether it is appropriate or ideal. You should also ensure that your installers are using heavy-duty fasteners as this is a common area where companies who offer cheap rates cut corners.
The Installation Process Is Integral
Most gutter problems are the result of installation defects. Gutters must be hung appropriately for your home and precisely, and your installers must take care that the design can withstand the pressure and that all joints are appropriately sealed. This is why it so important to choose a gutter company that is established in your area and has a reputation for excellent craftsmanship and customer service.
Ongoing Gutter Cleaning and Maintenance
The general recommendation is that you have your gutters cleaned twice a year. Clean your gutters prior to summer, which is when the heaviest rainfall occurs, and clean them again in autumn once most of the leaves have fallen in your area. Professional cleaning is affordable and fast and provides the added benefit of having your gutter system inspected by a professional. If you opt to clean the gutters yourself, be sure to inspect your gutters carefully and ensure that there is no wear and tear. While we still recommended inspecting gutters with guards twice a year, gutters with guards generally only have to be cleaned once a year or once every two years depending on where you live.
Perform Regular Inspections and Watch for Warning Signs
You should also regularly inspect your gutters from the ground. The main thing to look for is overflowing water, which is often indicated by streaks on the gutters and siding and signs that water has been pooling near the foundation. You should also look for areas that are sagging, missing or pulling away from the home, and any orange spots or more obvious rust should be dealt with right away.
Your Gutter Experts in Mason City
Young Construction has more than 20 years of experience serving homeowners and businesses in Mason City and throughout the many other communities of Southern Minnesota. Our company offers a full range of residential and commercial roofing services, including tear-off, roof replacement and storm damage repair. Our team installs both vinyl and steel siding, and we design and install gutter systems that will protect your roof, siding and foundation. If you would like to schedule an on-site consultation or have questions about the products and services we offer, call us today or contact us online.