6 DIY Gutter Installation Mistakes to Avoid

In the second edition of Roofing & Exteriors' "How To" series, Scott Kyles explains how contractors can walk their customers through gutter installations, as well as turn the discussion into a sales opportunity.

Scott Kyles, Cibirix Digital Marketing

September 28, 2021

4 Min Read

This Homeowner Roofing FAQs Answered series aims to assist you in answering common questions your customers and leads are likely to ask. Share this article with your salespeople and call staff to give them some good talking points to use with customers. Feel free to modify these answers and post them on your own business website FAQ page.

The first edition of the series spoke to the homeowner question, "Should I replace my roof before selling my house?" Now, we’ll seek to help homeowners think through the question, "What are some DIY gutter installation mistakes I need to avoid?"


Thinking About Installing Some New Gutters? Good Call!

If you’re thinking about putting some new gutters on your roof, or about replacing the old, leaky gutters you’ve already got, that’s really a smart idea. A good gutter system will collect water from your roof and then direct it safely away from your building’s foundation. Gutters keep water from pouring on you and your guests whenever you’re trying to go in or out during a rainstorm, too.

Some homeowners falsely assume that gutter installation is an easy DIY project. But unless you have special training or experience, gutter installation can really be trickier than it looks. Improperly installed gutters can actually lead to some pretty significant water damage to your roof, as well as to your home’s support structure. That being the case, here are six tips for avoiding some of the most common gutter installation problems:

  1. Don’t choose the wrong gutter material. Many homeowners are happy to settle for the cheapest available gutter material but cheaper isn’t always better. Vinyl works great for home siding, but it isn’t rugged enough to be the best choice for gutters. Metal works better. Which metal? Copper is really the “gold standard,” but it’s expensive and also requires some specialized labor and tools for installation. Galvalume steel and aluminum are some more affordable metal choices.

  2. Do choose the right gutter profile & size for your roof. Think about the total square footage of your roof, and factor in how much precipitation your area typically gets. The bigger your roof, the bigger your gutters need to be in order to accommodate the volumes of water they will receive. Don’t forget about roof pitch, either. The steeper your roof, the faster it’ll shed water. Make sure to choose a gutter profile & size that can handle any fast accumulations of precipitation.

  3. Don’t space your gutter hangers too far apart. Many homeowners make the mistake of spacing gutter hangers too far apart, or simply not installing enough hangers to begin with. The result is that gutters are prone to sag or pull away, which can result in costly damage to your structure. As a general rule, you should space gutter hangers no more than 3 feet apart. And if you get significant snow or ice, shorten that spacing to every 2 feet.

  4. Do make sure to pitch gutters correctly. Gutters shouldn’t be hung level; they actually need some side pitch in order for water to flow properly to the downspouts. Too little pitch can produce standing water, while too much pitch can overflow your downspouts. The ideal gutter placement angle will vary based upon gutter size and profile, but a good rule of thumb is to shoot for a rise of ½” for every 10 feet of gutter.

  5. Don’t get your downspout positioning wrong. The number and position of downspouts are very important. It’s ideal to position downspouts at corners whenever possible. Experts say that no downspout should ever cover more than 20 linear feet of gutter, and stretches longer than that should have downspouts positioned at both ends of the run. Experts also say that runs of longer than 40 feet should have a downspout placed in the middle, too.

  6. Do seal gutter seams properly, and avoid having too many seams. Another potential source of problems is having too many gutter seams, or simply not sealing seams properly. Every seam and point of connection can become a potential source of leaks, so you want to pay close attention when sealing these areas.

And Here’s the Best Way to Avoid Gutter Installation Problems

Unless you’ve had some specific experience working on roofs and gutters before, then gutter installation is really one job that might be best to entrust to a professional. In addition, the right gutter professional has the tools and materials to be able to construct some custom seamless gutters for you right on-site. A key advantage of going with seamless gutters is that they’re constructed and installed with no seams, so your potential for leak development is drastically minimized. Seamless gutters can also be custom-fit to match the exact contours and measurements of your roof, so there’s really less opportunity for any foul-ups. In addition, seamless gutters are known to be longer-lasting than other gutter types, so they’re really a more cost-effective option over time.

Look for more additions to this "How To" series soon.

About the Author(s)

Scott Kyles

Cibirix Digital Marketing, Senior Content Specialist & Client Relationship Manager

Scott Kyles is a senior content specialist and client relationship manager for Cibirix Digital Marketing and has extensive experience in producing marketing and branding content for local roofing, siding, windows, and exterior services businesses. He’s also a fan of hot sauces, is an admitted weather nerd, and is better-than-average at ping pong. 

You can connect with him at [email protected].

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