Ask The Engineer About Gutter Guards And Replacing Gutters

Installing Gutter Guards when your replacing gutters  makes perfect sense but do you really need gutters.

If your gutters are leaking at the end caps, dripping from the bottom, or beaten and bent from ladders used to clean them, it may be time to replace them. Another time to consider replacement is when you have a new roof installed. It’s normal that the roofer will recommend gutter replacement for two reasons:

1. the existing gutters are probably as old as the roof that’s being replaced and may look it with stains, dripping joints, and dents.

2. roofers often ruin gutters when they install roofing and if they know they will be replacing them it makes their job easier as they don’t have to be concerned about denting the gutters.

Ideally, you don’t even want to have gutters. But unless you have a two foot overhang on your roof–a two foot overhang generally keeps rain water as it flows from the roof edge from being blown back onto the siding and windows where it can do damage– you’ll need gutters.

The other important factor when deciding to replace you gutters is  whether the property is landscaped so that water flows away from the foundation. If not you’ll need gutters. To avoid soil erosion, stones should be used all around the foundation to eliminate the possibility of erosion.

Nevertheless, wherever you have an entrance something must still be done to keep water from running onto your head as you enter and exit the home. Typically diverters are used on the roof to divert the water away from the doorways. Rarely though is a home designed in this manner and for the most part gutters are a necessity.

In some areas of the country, even where there is little rain fall, gutters are a necessity to collect rainwater in cisterns for later use. The best material to use for gutters is aluminum. The aluminum should be a no thinner than .027″. Avoid spikes as hangers. Instead insist on screwed in hidden hangers. Spikes stress the fascia board and work loose when gutters freeze because of the expansion of the water when it freezes. A superior installation would also use mitered corners as opposed to box corners.

Some gutter systems such as the Alcoa system have the metal extend onto the roof where they are fastened somewhat like flashing–overall they are not worth the extra money that they cost over a quality installed hung gutter with hidden hangers.

The problem with gutters is when there are trees shedding debris onto the roof that collects in the gutters.

This is where choosing the right gutter guard or gutter cover is important; and that alone is a challenge since there are nearly a hundred different products from which to choose.

There are screens, filters, inserts, solid top gutter protectors with fins and troughs, and solid top systems with one or two rows of louvers in the front vertical surface.

The one that makes the most sense is the double row louvered system for several reasons:

1. no debris can collect on top that clog the openings in screens, filters and inserts.

2. no debris large enough to clog the gutter inside can get through the openings as in the fin and fin with trough types.

3. any debris that can clog the louvered openings is readily seen from the ground and can easily be brushed away with a telescopic pole and brush as opposed to all other types of gutter guards or gutter covers which when they clog require someone to ascend a ladder and pressure wash them.

4. because of the large radius bend the double row louvered system collects all the rain water with no overshooting.

5. the double row louvered system has a wall of protection that keeps any debris from washing into the gutter whereas the single row louvered system and all other solid top leaf guards can have debris wash in from the lip of the gutter.

It makes sense to choose a gutter guard that is going to keep you off ladders and free of depending on an installing company to do basic simple servicing–one that can literally be maintained dressed in a suit and tie.

Richard Kuhns B.S.Ch.E. President and CEO of R.K. Industries manufacturer of the Waterloov® Gutter Protection System. To learn more please go to