Gutter installation — as a cost-effective do-it-yourself project — can be completed within a day or two.
Properly installed gutters protect your property investment. Without an applied drainage system, rain has the power to wear down a home’s surrounding soil, damage its foundation, flood the basement or crawl space and seep into siding.
Once water is introduced into any of these locations, the consequential mold is costly to remove and may be dangerous. With roof supply or big box store materials and a few basic tools, you can add gutters to your home using this step-by-step guide.
- Prepare for Purchase
Before heading to the store consider whether you want to use vinyl or aluminum gutter. Vinyl is less expensive and easier to install. Pieces snap and click together into place. Aluminum is more durable long-term and pieces are joined together with crimping seamers.
Next, it’s helpful to draw the perimeter of your roof line and include measurements. This “map” allows you to approximate gutter length and the number of brackets, elbows and downspouts. You can also indicate elbow direction and downspout location.
Consider buying more material than necessary. Unused items can always be returned once installation is complete. You know how disruptive a supplemental mid-project trip to the store can be.
You will need:
- Gutter length
- End pieces — Specify right or left.
- 1/8” rivets
- Hex head screws — 1 1/4” for gutter and downspout, 1/4” zippers for elbows.
- Sealant — Silicone adhesive is fine. Specialized gutter sealant may be pricey.
Why zipper screws? They make it easier to pop elbows out for seasonal cleaning.
- Gather Your Tools
This job requires an extension ladder, drill and rivet gun. The drill can either be electric or hand. If you are hanging aluminum gutters, you’ll also need tin snips and a crimper.
- Mark Gutter Placement
Determine height along your roofline. It’s important that the gutter hang low enough to catch rainwater. If your gutter is placed too high, rainwater will spill over it.
A good rule of practice is to place a level along the slope of your roof, extending over the edge. Position gutter in the space below.
Allow for pitch, which is the downward slope rainwater runs through the system. Approximately 1/16th of an inch decline per foot is standard. Mark pitch with beginning and end nails connected by string on the soffit.
Pitch measurement can vary. As long as water runs down a regular slope, drainage will be successful.
- Construct Gutter Line
This step is easier to do on the ground. Connect pieces, if necessary, for entire length of area to be covered. Place adhesive sealing on ends and connections. Aluminum gutters will require crimping along each seam. Measure and cut holes for each downspout location.
- Hang and Connect
Drill brackets in regular intervals along roofline, matching your pitch alignment. Hang the gutter, snapping securely into brackets. Connect your elbows and downspouts.
This step is much like putting together a puzzle. Don’t be afraid to alter your original plan if you see ways for improving water flow and drainage once the system is in place.
- Determine Catch System
Water collected by your drainage system should safely clear the house and immediate soil base. Ways of accomplishing this include:
- Placement of stones under the downspout to encourage slow ground seepage.
- Use of a barrel or other collection vessel to hold water for re-use.
- Catch basin “kits” available from garden and landscape outlets.
- Consider Flashing
Flashing is a metal sheet which fits under the shingles on the edge of a roofline. Depending on the size and shape of your soffit, flashing installation may be a warranted additional step. Flashing further assures that water falls seamlessly into your drainage system without pausing long enough to seep into structure walls.
Keep Your Eye on Maintenance
Whatever drainage system you install, be sure to check and clear regularly. You’ve worked hard on this project, and regular maintenance should go a long way towards keeping it working perfectly!