Gutters need to be replaced when they are not functioning to move water to a lower point in your property.
However, the optimal time to replace them is when the roof is replaced but in a very specific order. Why do I make this distinction? It is because of how the gutter apron, sometimes referred to as gutter flashing, interacts with the ice and water membrane — an important component of any roof in Wisconsin or any place in the northern zone.
Gutter apron is that “L” shaped piece of metal that gets nailed down to the roof underneath the shingles. It then hangs down along the fascia. A gutter can then be slid up underneath the gutter apron. When a gutter is secured, it is either screwed (preferably), nailed or spiked into the fascia. Whichever fastener your installer chose, should pierce through the apron and the back of the gutter, securing it tightly to the fascia.
If you live in the northern zone, and your contractor understands the importance of ice and water membrane to prevent damaging ice dams, your gutters and gutter apron should be removed and replaced when the roof is replaced. This affords a contractor the ability to install ice and water membrane over the edge of the fascia, making it so that even if you have an ice dam, it will not be able to cause damage to the inside of your home.
After the ice and water membrane is installed, the roofing crew can install a new gutter apron which is nailed into the roof decking by the roofer. Since most of todays gutters are aluminum, an aluminum gutter apron should be used to prevent galvanic corrosion, a process where two dissimilar metals begin to corrode each other.
The nails, driven through the roof decking, will pierce through the ice and water membrane, which should be manufactured in such a way as to self seal around nail heads. This will prevent problems of water infiltrating through nail holes. Effectively, the membrane becomes like a gasket around the nail.
After your roofer is done installing the roof, there is typically a time when a roof is without gutters. This causes concern and stress for some homeowners, but more concerning, and more stressful would be a house where the contractor did not understand the importance of process, reducing the life of your new gutters and not protecting your belongings from the ravages of ice damming for decades.
The savvy homeowner will understand the importance of short term patience in order to enjoy the long term security of knowing they have a properly installed and durable water management system.