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One of the eventualities in owning a home is the natural depreciation of your gutters. At some point, you will need to replace the ones that you have. The process may seem scary, but a home that lacks properly functioning gutters is much more frightening. A constant flow of rainwater not only irritates you as a dweller, but also erodes the foundation of your home. Basement leaks, roof rot, and moldy attics are all likely byproducts of failing gutters. If you think you need new gutters, you probably do. Here is a guide to everything you need to know about installing or replacing them.
Vinyl gutters are the least expensive, costing as little as $4 per piece. Even the nicest vinyl gutters are rarely more than $8.
Aluminum is a bit more expensive, starting at $6 per piece with the most expensive gutters in the $12 range.
Steel gutters are much better in quality, and their price reflects this. They start at $11 and oftentimes cost $33 per piece or more.
Copper is the highest quality of all. It costs at least $40 per piece and usually costs well in excess of $100.
When you purchase new gutters, you'll also want to buy downspout extensions. Expect to pay between $6 and $15 for vinyl and aluminum versions, while steel at least doubles that total and copper will cost $90 or more. You might also have to pay for additional materials like:
Splash blocks/drains: splash blocks and drains help to direct water away from the foundation and prevent damage. They cost between $5 and $10.
Flashing: Flashing protects your roof underlayment and siding from potential moisture damage and costs around $10 to purchase and install as a DIY project.
Hangers: Gutter hangers give it extra strength and help hold it up, especially when there might be a lot of wind or water draining during a storm. Their prices start at $2 and go up.
Having a gutter contractor handle the installation of your new gutters is advisable in that paying for such a service removes a lot of hassle from the process. You want the job done right and with minimal aggravation. A professional gutter installer should finish this process in an average of seven hours, which means it's only a day's work in most instances. Even larger scale projects will probably take no more than three days to complete. The downside is the added cost. Paying someone for their services will add to the bottom line. The estimate for a contractor to replace a gutter and downspout section that measures 50 feet is about $509 for an experienced contractor.
Note that this estimate does include materials in addition to labor, so it's the sum total for the 50-foot section. So, you should expect to pay roughly $5.18 per square foot. Note that the price is location dependent. You may get more or less for your money, depending on the cost of living in your area. Also note that your roof pitch impacts the estimate. You will pay more for a steeper incline.
Keeping your gutters clean is an important step in protecting your investment. You should consider purchasing a special tool to add to your pressure washer. A gutter cleaner attachment costs as little as $25 on Amazon, and it provides you peace of mind about the state of your gutters. These devices are long enough that they require no ladder to perform the work of cleaning your gutters. You can also hire a professional to clean your gutters for approximately $100 to $200 (learn more about gutter cleaning costs).
This plastic mesh guard prevents leaves and other clutter from creating blockage in your gutters. The better products don't rust or erode over time, making them ideal one-time purchases. A middle-tier gutter guard with dimensions of 6" x 20' costs approximately $6. Since the average professional gutter cleaning is $75, think of this as money well spent. There are some types of gutter guards that are built in to gutters already. LeafGuard, one of many brands, designs the gutter and guard mix so that water flows straight into the downspout while block leaves and debris.
Wire Mesh Screens
Nature's pests represent one of the largest dangers to the integrity of your gutters. A swarm of pests can undo all your hard work on your gutters. Wire mesh screens present an elegant, cheap solution to the problem. They fit on top of your gutters and provide protection against anything that tries to enter your gutters. These screens are the cheapest gutter guard solution at a modest cost of as little as $1 per square foot.
Winter weather is one of your biggest enemies in protecting your gutters. Freezing temperatures can wreak havoc. Once the ice thaws, overflow will spill down to the ground, creating dangerous walking and driving conditions on the surface below. If you live in an area that experiences a lot of cold weather, heat tape will protect your gutters from icing. The cabling runs through your gutters. During inclement climate conditions, you simply activate the cables in your gutters and downspout. The water will drain away naturally as intended. You can purchase heat tape for as little as $77 for 100 feet, so it's a solid investment for people in colder regions.
Clogging is a natural concern for all gutters. Downspout screens address this issue by redirecting potential clogging debris away from the downspout opening. The clever design accommodates the natural motion of water to elevate leaves and other objects above the slope of the gutters where the wind will eventually blow them away. These devices are economical at a cost of roughly $8 each.
All gutters fall into two categories: sectional or seamless. The easiest way to think of seamless gutters is in terms of continuity. It's one giant strip of gutter rather than a hodgepodge of pieces tethered together. A professional installer measures the roof of your home, identifies the required length for the seamless gutter piece, and cuts it on-site using a special machine. Whereas sectional gutters are sold piecemeal and joined together at the installation site, seamless gutters are fitted to ensure that they sit perfectly on your roof. It's a giant length of track with no breaks. Thus the obvious advantage of seamless gutters is the fact that they resist leaks. Since they lack the gaps that exist in sectional gutter pieces, there are no divots where water can drip.
If you decide to have seamless gutters installed instead of sectional gutters, you could pay anywhere between $800 and $5,000, depending on the square footage required to cover the entirety of your home and the type of seamless gutters you have installed. This includes types like aluminum, copper, vinyl and steel -- to name a few. You could also pay additional costs for labor, delivery and materials required to install the seamless gutters, so ask what's covered in the quote from a gutter installer when you call.
The cost for removing your current gutters depends upon whether you handle this part of the project yourself or not. An expert will charge roughly $100 for the removal and disposal of your gutters. You can save this money if you do it yourself. Note that if you do it wrong, however, the professional installer will charge you for any extra work they have to perform. Expect to pay roughly $40 for the actual disposal of your gutters. This issue is also area-dependent. Charges could reach $100 in some cities. Investigate this matter before proceeding. It's also possible that a professional will get better disposal rates than you can on your own.
Gutters are essential in helping preserve the foundations and walls of your home. They carry water away from your home's foundation and help prevent flooding. Without proper gutters and downspouts, you run the risk of foundation flooding and premature crumbling or cracking. They also prevent erosion of the land by directing water into the sidewalk rather than flooding your landscape. The single largest factor in determining the cost of installing gutters and downspouts in your home is the type of gutter you choose. Since gutter prices from a professional usually include the cost of installation, you can get a good idea of your entire costs when speaking to an installation pro. What follows are the four major types of gutters listed from most expensive to least expensive.
Copper Gutters & Downspouts: $40 - $100 per piece
Copper gutters and downspouts are effective in their function, but are chosen mostly for their aesthetic appeal. Over time, copper develops a patina that can be very beautiful and add a lot of beauty and charm to your home. Copper is much more expensive than other gutter materials and is chosen primarily for how it looks. If you have the desire and budget for copper gutters, just keep in mind the color will change over time and you cannot always predict how it will appear. You should also be aware that copper gutters are stolen in some areas because of the metal's value.
Steel Gutters & Downspouts: $11 - $33 per piece
Steel gutters and downspouts will be more expensive than aluminum, but might be the better choice if you live in a part of the country where you experience harsh weather conditions. They are stronger and heavier than aluminum so they will withstand harsher conditions and last longer. They are not any more effective in their ability to move water away from your home's foundation. The chief advantages for steel gutters are durability and longevity while the disadvantage is, once again, cost.
Aluminum Gutters & Downspouts: $6 - $12 per piece
Aluminum gutters and downspouts are very commonly used, since they are effective at carrying water away from your home, lightweight, easy to install, and inexpensive. However, because it is lightweight, aluminum can be more easily damaged over time and therefore might need repair or replacement sooner than more durable materials. The reason to choose aluminum gutters is that they offer the best bang for the buck of all gutter solutions.
Vinyl Gutters & Downspouts: $4 - $8 per piece
Choose vinyl gutters and downspouts when you want a very affordable option and do not live in a climate that experiences extreme weather conditions, either hot or cold. When they are in good shape, vinyl gutters and downspouts are very effective in moving water away from your foundation, but they are not durable and do not stand the test of time. The primary reason to choose vinyl is the price. The negative is that it's the cheapest material, which means it will need replacement sooner.
When installing or replacing your gutters, keep in mind that you might need to think about their location. Sometimes your gutters might have been in a bad idea because of the house's design. This is especially true for older homes. When you move the gutters and downspouts, you might need to repair the home exterior -- like repairing the siding or repainting the home exterior. There might also be situations where you cannot move the downspout, in which case you need to to keep the system flowing smoothly. You should also think about the right season for installing or replacing gutters and downspouts, both for convenience and to save some money on professional help. Gutter professionals will probably charge less for their services in spring than in summer or fall, so see if you can get an appointment around that time.
Gutters are imperative to the defense of your roof, siding and landscape. Without them, you could spends thousands on repairs every season from moisture damage. Depending on your budget and home's appearance, invest in the kind that complements the exterior appearance and requires the least amount of maintenance.