Gutter Replacement: Tips For Installing Gutters


Rain Gutter Replacement – Project Planning

Finished Rain Gutter

You can easily buy guttering from full-service hardware stores as well as home centers. It is easy to install but you can use the same parts to make a rain gutter and downspout with some additional work. These DIY rain gutters and downspouts will not only be much stronger but will also look better.

Gutter Replacement Project – Evaluation and Planning

DIY gutter replacement can save you a lot of money as compared to the professional installation of gutters but it's not that easy and you need to watch out for a few pitfalls. First of all, you should take a close look at the fascia and soffit to check for any signs of rotted wood. If there is any rotted wood, it will need to be replaced for the installation of the rain gutters. In many cases, there is also a crown molding or trim board nailed to the fascia under the shingles.

You have two options here. Either get rid of the molding or trim board like we did all or you have the option of adding a continuous wood strip under it. It will result in a flat plane where gutters can be easily installed. Whatever you do, do not forget to prime and paint the wood before hanging the gutters. Before installing gutters, draw a sketch of your house and also take measurements.

Measure the total length of rain gutters and don't forget to mark the location of downspouts. The next step is to take a count of the inside as well as outside corners and the end caps – also check for the left or right-hand side. Take a note of the downspouts height and add a length of 4 feet to extend it away from the house at the bottom. Three elbows are required for each downspout. Elbows are of 2 different types that turn either to the side or to the front of the downspout. In many installations, only front elbows are required but in some cases, side elbows might also be needed for turning the downspout extension sideways.

Planning tips:

For installation, it is recommended to choose locations where it is easy to direct the water away from the house. Don't choose locations with obstacles such as sidewalks, hose bibs or electric meters.
Choose inconspicuous locations as much as possible.
For choosing the size of downspouts, choose 3 x 4" oversized downspouts for gutters with large roof areas to drain. It is also recommended to choose a bigger size in case your area experiences torrential rains.
Gutters that are more than 40 feet long should be sloped down in both the directions and you should put a downspout on both ends.
There are specially built roof hanger mounting straps available in the market. These should be used for houses that do not have any fascia boards or for non-vertical fascia.
To identify the parts needed for installation, you should accurately measure the horizontal rain gutter runs as well as downspouts.


Rain Gutters – Cutting and Joining

Pre-Assembly Process

Joining sections on the ground is much easier as compared to working on the roof. Manufacturers typically recommend butting the parts together and using a seam cover to cover the joints but instead, you should lap together all the seams from 2 to 4 inches. Caulk the seams and use rivets to join them. Here in the picture, we have displayed the joining of a gutter section to one of the corners. This same process should be used for joining together sections but the only exception is that you need to overlap them at least 4 inches. The factory cut end on your gutter looks better and it is recommended to pre-plan leaving that end on the outside when you are planning to splice gutter sections. It is also recommended to lap the rain gutters and ensure that the inside section is facing downhill. It will prevent water from getting leaked out of the seams.

The gutter end should be cut to ensure that it extends around at least an inch over the fascia board and in order to catch water from the overhanging shingles. Don't forget to attach an end cap with the help of rivets and use a gutter sealant to seal the joint from inside.


​Outlets and Downspouts – Addition

Cutting down downspout tubes at each location.

The first step is to take measurements. Measure the distance from the center of the chosen downspout location to the corner of the house. Don't forget to double-check for any obstructions. Take this measurement and use it to cut down a downspout outlet. This method of adding outlets takes longer as compared to using a gutter section with pre-installed outlets but this method gets rid of 2 seams and it also looks neater.

You have the option of using a duckbill tin snip for this cut but if you are a beginner, it will be much easier for you to use a special offset snip similar to what we are using (easily available from home centers and hardware stores).


​Gutter Sections – Hanging

The only thing you need is a little slope.

The speed of water flowing through the gutters will depend depends on the size and number of downspouts. Sloping the gutters is essential to get rid of any standing water as it can lead to leakage through seams as well as corrosion. It is recommended to slope the house gutter around 1/4 inch for every 10 feet. For leveled fascia boards, you also have the option of using them as a reference for sloping the gutters. You can check the leveling by holding the level against the bottom edge of the fascia. If it isn’t level, keep adjusting the string line until you see a slight slope when it is leveled.

Use chalk to mark the top of the gutter. Keep screwing the gutter sections to the fascia after aligning it with the top edge that you drew with the chalk line.


​Hangers and Flashing – Finishing

Use flashing for keeping your soffit and fascia safe from water damage.

When you're replacing the gutters, it also gives you the opportunity to prevent water from running behind the gutters. It can be done with the installation of a metal gutter apron flashing. This flashing needs to be placed on the back edge of your gutter and under the shingles. If the pre-bent flashing isn't available at your local hardware store or home centers, you can always get a local sheet-metal fabricator or an aluminum siding contractor to bend some for you.

Ideally, it is recommended to slide the flashing under the ice and water barrier and the shingles. In case the ice and water barrier is glued to the sheathing and it's not possible to slide the flashing under it or in case the edge of the roofing paper has too many staples and nails, then just slip it under the shingles. If the length of the flashing is too short and it doesn't cover the gutter back edge, take an additional sheet-metal strip and slip it over the gutters and under the bent flashing.

Hidden Gutter Hangers – Installation

Installing the hidden gutter hangers is relatively simple when the gutters are screwed firmly to the fascia. It is recommended to install these hidden hangers at every 2 feet. It will provide adequate strength to the front edge as well as the gutters. These anchors are specially designed to remain hidden and easily slip over the gutter back edge. However, since the back edge has been already covered with flashing, just hold the level of the hanger and use screws to combine the gutter, flashing and hangers together. You might find it a bit tricky to get started with the large screws included with the hangers when you are driving them through flashing and steel gutters. In order to do it successfully, keep spinning the screws at high speed but don't apply too much pressure until it bites a bit into the metal. Once it bites into the metal, put some pressure on the drill and just drive them into the fascia.


​Downspouts – Installation

If downspouts frustrate you, use a special crimper tool to get rid of that frustration. 

In this tutorial, the standard 2 x 3" downspouts are used but the procedure remains the same for 3 x 4" ones. Gather the downspout tube and elbows and put them together with the crimped end facing down. It will help in preventing water from leaking out. It is recommended to use sheet-metal screws instead of rivets. Using screws will make it easier for you to disassemble the downspouts for cleaning, as and when needed. Professionals typically use pre-painted ¼” hex head screws that have extremely sharp points. These are known as zippers for their ease of installation. You should be able to find these in the aluminum siding section of your local home center and another good source would be a gutter supplier.

The 32 tooth hacksaw blade can be used for cutting downspout tubing but we have also talked to some professionals who prefer using a standard 24 tooth carbide blade in a circular saw for the same. You also have the option of using a power miter box for cutting through downspouts and gutters. Don't forget to use an old blade. Make sure you use leather gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, and jeans along with goggles to keep yourself safe from flying metal bits.

Every elbow and gutter length is crimped or squeezed at one end to fit the pieces together. Since the downspout lengths of 10 feet are crimped on only one end, you will need to crimp one end of a cut-off piece to ensure it fits inside the next downspout section or the next elbow. Make use of needle-nose pliers for twisting crimps in case you have to install only one or two downspouts. However, you can save a lot of time and frustration by investing in an inexpensive crimping tool.

When it comes to finishing, the last step is to hang the downspouts. You need to attach these downspouts to the wall by installing U-shaped brackets. If you are unable to find these brackets, you also have the option of using sections of downspout to make these. These not only look better as compared to the usual bands that wrap around the outside but also make it much easier when it comes to hanging the downspouts.

After the gutter installation job is completed, regular maintenance is the key to make them last really long.

Make sure the gutters are cleaned at least twice each year. You also have the option of calling in a company specializing in cleaning and maintenance gutters. It will not only help in enhancing the gutter life but also get rid of problems such as plugged downspouts and backed-up gutters.