When choosing a gutter company, homeowners should be sure to ask questions about how their gutters will be attached to their home. You should understand that one size does not fit all. The climate you live in will help you decide whether you need screws for your gutters or whether nails or spikes will be sufficient.
Understanding the impact of climate to determine your gutter needs
The first consideration you should make is what climate you live in. Do you have ice loads? Will your gutters have to bear a lot of weight over a period of time? In northern climates where winters are cold and ice builds up in gutters, you should be careful to make sure your gutter professional uses screws. Screws will hold onto a wooden fascia better than nails or spikes. Heavy ice loads will pull nails and spikes out a little more each year until eventually your gutters will be damaged and ineffective.
If you don’t live in a climate where ice is a factor, then how you attach your gutters becomes less important. Ice loads and ice dams will not affect a home in, Mississippi or Louisiana for instance. In those cases, a cheaper method of just using nails or spikes may be appropriate.
Regardless of climate, your hangers should be spaced of no more than 24 inches apart. Even if you don’t get ice, there will be times when homeowners have leaves or heavy rain loads which may fill the gutter. Some installers may, out of a desire to drive down the price or merely out of job site expediency, cut a few corners and put hangers every 3 feet or more.
Buy cheap, buy twice
I’m often reminded of a customer of mine from Cudahy, Wisconsin. His name was Stan. Now Stan is a really nice guy, but like many people he’s on a budget. Stan had a handyman come by to do his gutters and this installer not only knew nothing about water hydrology but he was not skilled in many elements of a good gutter install. Well a week after the handyman installed his new gutters we had a rainstorm. His new gutters moved much of the water to a part of his yard where the pitch sloped toward the house. Stan called me. I explained how I install gutters and Stan understood why I was 30% more than the guy who had claimed he was a professional. I was able to put a rush on it and just two weeks after his gutters were replaced, we removed them and replaced them properly.
The moral of that story is simple — you get what you pay for. Now at the same time, there are companies that will charge a premium for inferior installs. Wherever you live, it makes sense to completely understand what you are getting before you write that check for a down payment.
Jim McGuigan is the owner of Energy Masters, a home improvement company based in Milwaukee County.