The way gutters are installed can determine their longevity, functionality, and curb appeal. If done right, aluminum gutters and copper gutters can last for as long as you own your home. Even the lifespan of vinyl gutters can be extended beyond their average number of years if properly installed and maintained. Gutters perform a critical role in protecting your home from the elements and water damage. Problems caused by poorly installed gutters can impact your home’s exterior, including the foundation, siding, and soffit and fascia.
Gaps behind the Gutters
A gutter system that is not installed properly can leave a gap between the back of the gutters and the fascia boards. When water escapes over the side of the gutter section, it can appear to the homeowner that the gutters are leaking and they need to be replaced. If gutters are installed correctly, they are positioned the right distance beneath the edge of the roof (drip edge flashing) to allow water to enter the gutter system directly.
Sometimes gutter contractors cut corners by not installing drip edge flashing, which is the other main reason water escapes between the gutters and fascia.
Gutters Have the Wrong Pitch
It’s easy for inexperienced gutter installers to get the pitch wrong. For water to flow off the roof and properly enter the gutters and exit through the downpipes, they must be pitched or angled enough to guide the rainwater “downhill” and toward the gutter outlets. To determine if this is one of the problems your gutter system is experiencing look for:
- standing water and/or mosquito infestation
- rust or pinholes
- overflowing constantly even when there are no clogs/blockages
- damage to siding
- damage to the foundation
An experienced gutter contractor will be able to re-slope the gutters to the right degree, allowing the gutter system to function optimally.
In addition to getting the gutter pitch or gutter slope wrong, gutter sections can be measured incorrectly. Gutters that are too short and don’t extend across the roofline leave areas of the siding unprotected. When gutters don’t properly collect or drain water, rainwater that runs down exterior walls can pool around the foundation or erode landscaping.
Poorly Installed Gutters Sag
Another place inexperienced or less-than-honest contractors can save time and money is by using the minimum number of nails, fasteners, etc. Over time, as the gutter system ages, combined with the weight of standing water and debris buildup, gutters can pull away from the fascia because they don’t have the support they need to keep gutter sections from sagging.