Rain gutters can be a great way to improve your home’s exterior drainage and reduce foundation problems and water damage. OR if they are installed wrong it might make your problems worse.
We recently had new gutters added to our 100 year old Craftsman Style home. I decided to bite the bullet, after spending a small fortune trying to repair my home’s foundation.
In the process I learned a whole lot more about gutters than I ever wanted to know.
Mistakes to Avoid With Rain Gutter Installation
There are a few common mistakes that I avoided, and a few that I didn’t. You’ll see the proof in the photos. If you are having a new gutter system installed I hope this will help you avoid a bad installation process. Many companies offer a guaranty, so if you’ve recently had gutters installed keep reading and check your own gutters.
1.) Getting Gutters that are Too Small
When you buy gutters there are different sizes. Have you ever watched the water drain off the edge of the roof during heavy rains? When you are directing all of that rain water into a smaller area it can be a lot of water at once. As a general rule of thumb, if you can afford it, get the larger gutter size, which are 4×6 inches instead of the standard size which is 3×4 inches.
If you live in a place that doesn’t get much rain, it might be fine with the smaller size. I went for the larger one because I’ve seen heavy rainfall rise outside my back door within an hour.
2.) Not getting extensions on the ends of your downspouts
The gutters direct all the rain to a downspout hole. This downspout is where all of the rainwater dumps out. If you don’t ask, your gutter installer will just dump all of the water at the bottom of the downspout. You also want to be sure you have enough downspouts.
For me this could have made my foundation problems worse. It’s never a good idea to have lots of water dumping at one edge of your foundation. If you have room and it doesn’t get in the way of mowing your lawn, ask the gutter contractor to add extensions to take the water farther away from your home’s foundation.
In my small house (1800 square feet) I have 6 downspouts. On most of them I asked the gutter installer to add extensions. One of the downspouts was installed right at the corner of my house that is the weakest. Great idea, dump gallons of water right in that spot.
In addition to this problem, they directed the water away from the drains that were already installed in two places. Why would this make sense?
The fixes for these problems are pretty simple for any professional gutter installation company, you just need to ask.
3.) assuming that they installed your complete gutter system correctly
After you get your home’s gutters installed the best way to make sure they are functioning properly is to walk around the borders of your home IN THE RAIN. I’m sure your gutters are up there, but the big question is are they diverting water the right way. Mine weren’t.
My gutters were installed by a very reputable professional company, but on both sides of my house they didn’t have the proper slope for the gutters to direct the water in the right direction. Water was flowing out the ends of the gutters that were supposed to be blocked with end caps.
The fix for this problem is to remount the gutters at the correct slope, which they CAN and DID do.
4.) Not getting covers on your gutters
If you live in an area without tress you might not need the covers. If you live in a place that has trees, your gutters will eventually fill up with pine needles, leaves, acorns and every other thing that a tree sheds.
It’s possible to clean your gutters out with a gutter cleaning tool like this or hire professional gutter cleaners. However, they require much less frequent cleaning if you get some sort of gutter guard system installed over the gutter. These covers come with additional costs which could be up to several hundred dollars, but they are worth it in the long run if you don’t want to clean your gutters every year
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How much does a rain gutter system cost?
It depends on how big your house is and whether your home is one story or more. It also depends on what size gutter you buy and whether you get gutter guards. To give you an idea I got a few quotes from different gutter companies in Dallas.
Here are the details of my quotes.
- $1,164 for 3×4 inch gutters without covers.
- An extra $404 for covers on the 3×4 inch gutters.
- 6 inch gutter cost $1,956 for half round gutter.
- 6 inch gutter costs an extra $565 for covers
I got a second quote for $2500 without covers for a 3×4 inch size. It’s worth it to get multiple quotes because I found a 25% difference in the price.
Are rain gutters worth the price?
The answer to this question depends on your home and what type of foundation you have. It also depends on what kinds of foundation problems you’ve had. If you live in a place like Texas, where foundation problems are a regular thing the investment in gutters can be worth it to prevent structural damage to your home.
Pros and Cons of Gutters
I chose not to install gutters on my garage. There are a few pros and cons of gutters, but in my opinions the pros outweigh the cons if you have ANY drainage issues.
- If properly installed, gutters help to control drainage around your house
- Makes it easy to collect rainwater if you have a rain barrel
- Helps to keep crawl space more dry if you have a pier and beam.
- Gutters can minimize damage to wood trim on your home. I don’t have gutters on my garage and the door trim rotted in a few years.
- Gutters are expensive
- Gutters require regular cleaning
- If you have a historic home, gutters don’t add to the curb appeal unless you get really fancy ones.