Yankee Style Gutters explained

Yankee style gutters, also known as built-in gutters, can look nice, but aren’t practical for high precipitation climates.

yankee style gutter

This yankee style gutter is in good shape. You cannot see the gutter from the ground.

The trough portion of the gutter tends to be very shallow and once they start to fail due to rust or seams opening up, the soffit underneath this sort of gutter system tends to have rotten wood and excessive maintenance is often required.

How does a yankee style gutter look?

It is an attractive look, with the gutter itself being hidden behind a fascia. Whether this is practical or not is usually a different story.  Few contractors will even touch a project with yankee style gutters.

How to maintain a yankee style gutter

Most yankee style gutters are made from steel and custom bent to create a shallow pan near the end of your eaves.  When that steel rusts, the first sign is usually water A yankee style gutter tends to be one to two inches deep.  While most homes today are not built with yankee style gutters, some older homes still have them.  If you currently have a yankee style gutter and it hasn’t yet failed, consider using a roof coating to seal it.  Acrylic based sealants can be effective, but silicone coatings have performed well. The only downside we have found thus far is that if it drips outside of the trough area, it is extremely difficult to get the silicone drips off once they are dry.

yankee gutters are problematic for most homeowners

Leaks in a yankee style gutter can cause massive damage to soffit and fascia

How to repair a yankee style gutter?

draining through the soffit with a downspout

Yankee style gutters have a downspout that drains through the soffit.

Lining an existing yankee gutter is the most practical way to save what you have.  Some contractors will use EPDM rubber to line the gutters but this can result in additional leakage at the seams of the EPDM. It also adds additional bulk and reduces the vertical height on an already shallow gutter design.  This reduces the capacity of the gutter.

A better way is to use a high quality silicone coating in the yankee gutter trough. This is a good option as long as there are not holes for the silicone to drain through. Prior to the installation of a silicone coating, it is necessary to at least temporarily seal off any rust holes or other places where the silicone could drain through.  This can be time consuming. Effectively, you are creating a thin but durable membrane over the entire space that you silicone.  A word of warning though — silicone is the only thing that sticks to silicone. So once you silicone a yankee style gutter, your options are limited to a silicone based solution.

If you do decide to use the silicone, there are thick trowel-able silicones that can work for areas with holes. You may need to use a mesh type drywall tape on the bottom to establish a based onto which you can trowel a thick silicone onto. Once that cures and you have re-established a sound base, you can cover the entire yankee style gutter pan with a crushable silicone coating like GacoRoof.

Can you eliminate a yankee style gutter?

When your roof is replaced is the best time to convert a yankee style gutter system to a newer system with the gutter more on the outside of the eaves.  This requires the gutter to be covered over with new wood decking.  A new, and more common style exterior gutter, can then be attached.

decking over a yankee gutter

New decking is installed over the yankee gutter and then a k-style gutter can be installed toward the outside

What is the most common type of gutter used today?

The most typical gutter system that is used today in the United States is the k-style gutter which typically gets secured to the house with fasteners and hangers that secure directly int0 the fascia of a house.  In the perfect install, these k-style gutters can be sloped, or pitched, toward the downspout so that you don’t have standing water in your gutters.  If your gutter has standing water in it, like most yankee style gutters do, they can rust if they are made out of steel.  Most k-style gutters these days are aluminum so even a lower quality gutter would likely be more durable than a yankee style gutter.


Share this Post: