Roof Gutters: Process and Cleaning Tips

(Last Updated On: December 27, 2016)
Constructed Roof Gutters
Roof Gutters installed

Roof gutters and downspouts are installed to divert and carry rain water away from the interiors of the home. It helps in maintaining the integrity of the foundation and the construction. Rood gutters offers a safe passage for preventing soil erosion, foundation leaks and damage to the sidings installed. It is important to measure the downspout and roof gutters, pitched and installed accurately for increasing the durability and functionality. Installing roof gutters is a job that many home owners can easily do it on their own. Just a little effort and appropriate tools are required. Roof gutters don’t appear very impressive, but it is among the important parts of the roof.

The main purpose of installing roof gutters is to protect a home’s foundation by routing water away from its base. It helps in preventing seepages in basement and offers a means to collect the rain water for further use. Entering a home where water is running straight off the roof in a hefty down pour is exactly like having shower. To avoid such situation, roof gutter installation is important. Roof gutters helps is keeping the entrance free of moss, algae and other growths that cause the reason for leaks and the surface dry. Most of the foundation problems are due the cause of damaged roof gutters or downspout. It is important to keep your roof gutters up to date because overwhelming and leaky gutters can damage the basement walls in just few years.

There are many roof gutter types and materials like lead, zinc, copper, painted steel and aluminum, vinyl, PVC and galvanized iron. Only installing it is not your duty but roof gutter cleaning is the ultimate stop. Roof gutters are most often installed by the professionals but there is no negative reason of having DIY roof gutter installation. All the materials and tools are readily available at the home centers, roofing supply firms and retail levels. Don’t want to replace your old roofing gutters? Create a stronger and better looking gutter by modifying the traditional roof gutters installed. Minimize the joints, sleek looking seams, add flashing and assemble all the parts for having a perfect roof gutter installed at your home.

Process of roof gutter installation

Evaluate the plan of DIY roof gutter process

Person installing Roof gutter
Roof gutter planning by home owner

Almost all the hardware stores or home centers are availed with gutter system and its parts. It is readily available for easy installation on the roofs. You just need to assemble the parts and joint them together for experiencing a stronger and better looking roof gutters for your home.

DIY roof gutter installation leads you in saving your expenditure over professionals but there are few things to watch out for. Inspecting the soffit and fascia, for signs of rotted wood or damaged steel before installing roof gutters. If it is damaged, it is advisable of replacing it. Don’t forget to have primary and paint simple wood before you install the gutters.

Measure the space of gutter run and the length of the home for installing the downspout. Mark and record the location of having downspout and roof gutters. Count the inside and outside end caps and corners. Measure the height of the downspout and add at least five ft. to each of the extension running down to the foundation of the home. Important note: downspout requires at least two elbows. Basically there are two types of downspout elbows: front elbow and side elbow. Mostly front elbow installation if preferred but sometime you may also need the assistance of side elbow. Side elbow is generally used for turning the extension sideways. Few planning tips will help you in having a firm roof gutter installation.

  • Mount the downspouts in an unobstructed are where the water can easily be discharged and directed away from the home foundation. Avoid the locations having hose bibs, sidewalks and electric connections.
  • It is advisable of installing downspout in an inconspicuous area.
  • Mounting oversized 3 * 4 inches downspout. It leads in transferring large amount of drains from the roof.
  • Put a downspout on each of the end of the roof gutters. Having along run gutters say for approximately 40 ft. is more prominent. It should be installed on both the sides of the home.
  • Specialized roofing hangers are available that are mounted on houses without fascia that aren’t vertical or fascia boards.
  • Measuring the length of the run through of the gutters will lead you in identifying the accurate parts you are going to need while installing roof gutters.
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Cutting and joining the assembles

For experiencing better results it is important to keep certain things in mind like joining the section on ground is much easier than working on the top surface.

How to do?

Take the gutter and cut the back as well as the front sides with the help of a tin snip. Bend it well and cut it from the intersection. Don’t forget to notch the roof gutter. Cut a 3 inches long notch on the front side of the gutter with the help of a tin snips. It will provide you in joining the sections i.e. the inner one and the exterior side accurately.

Now lay a bead of roof gutter sealant on the entire corners and its edges. Hook the front piece of corner over the notched section of the gutter and fix it over. Now accumulate the parts of the gutters to join it together. Seal the corners of the gutters with rivets that are easily available. Start drilling the rivets making nine inches hole at the front side of the gutters. With the help of a rivet gun mount the metal rivets onto its place.

Drill the remaining metal rivets in the holes and prepare the gutters. Caulk the seam on the inner side of the gutter by using a gutter sealant. Don’t forget to apply the sealant on each rivets installed. You can also try out to lapping all seams from 3 to 5 inches together. Caulk it properly for enjoying a firm result. Use the same method again for the rest of the sections of the roof gutters but don’t overlap the last pice for approximately 4 inches.

Plan the perfect shapes cut to the end for having better appearance for roof gutters installed. When a gutter ends, cut is approximately an inch less than the past section of the fascia board to flow the water from over changing shingles. At the end attach the end with the help of an end cap and install a rivet. Caulk it will with a sealant for firm roof gutter installation.

Adding downspout and outlets

Home owner holding a downspout
Installing downspout in the roof

Inspect and measure from the corner of the house to the location selected for installing downspout. It is important to verify it twice for facing no obstruction in the process. Mark the downspout outlet correctly on the bottom surface of the roof gutters. Trace it well around the outlet, flange the side down and center the outlet. For mounting a tin snip in the gutter, make a V shaped notch with the tool called an old chisel. Use two scrapes on both the sides under the gutter for supporting it while notching it.

Follow the mark and cut the outlet off with a tin snip. There are two types of tin snips available like green tin snips and red tin snips. Red tin snips works best for cutting counter clockwise whereas green tin snips cuts clockwise. Make sure to cut it 1.6 inches outside the marking you made. Place the outlet into the hole and drill it 1.8 inches for fixing the rivets. Run a sealant gun on the borders and the openings. Press the outlet in the place and install the rivets for exact fitting.

This process takes few more minutes than using the short gutter parts with preinstalled outlet but it looks neater and appropriate.

Hanging gutter sections

The number of downspout installed will lead you in knowing how fast it will empty. A little amount of slope is all you need to have. Slopping the roof gutters helps in eliminating the stagnant water easily from the surface. The issue of standing water is sorted that can cause leaks and corrosion through the seams. Slope each gutter towards the downspout for about one fourth inch for every 9 to 10 ft. long gutter run. If your fascia boards are leveled use it as reference for slopping the roof gutters installed. Check it by using a level at the bottom surface.

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If it is not leveled, align it slightly with the leveler. Allow the slope by driving a nail approx. half inch below the shingles installed. Measure the distance properly from the bottom surface of the fascia board to the nails. With the help of a chalk, impress a line for guiding you further. Align a level by using a string to validate the measurement of slope. Bubble observed in the level should be off centered to the high side of the rood gutter. At last, snap the thread and draw a line on the fascia board.

With the indication of chalk line, the slope will be aligned properly and sections of roof gutters will be accurately installed. Install a screw every 3 ft. for fixing a stainless steel sheet into the fascia board.

Finish with roof hangers and flashing

Person adding flashing to the roof gutters
Flashing mounted in the roof gutters

It is important to install flashing for protecting the soffit and fascia boards from water damage. Prevent the water running behind the roof gutters installed with the help of a metal flashing under the shingles. Slip the gutter flashing under the shingles and secure with nails. Install it every two ft. from each other. If you are not availed with pre bend flashing, ask for local sheet fabricator to bend some of the flashing sheets. Basically flashing should be installed under all the shingles, water barriers and roofing paper used. If it is not possible of placing the flashing under the water barriers or roofing papers due to more number of staple and nails than slip the flashing only under the roof gutter shingles.

If the flashing sheet is too short for reaching down over the edge, use an additional strip of metal roofing flashing and bend it for installing over the gutters. Don’t forget to install the hidden hangers. The roof gutters screwed to the fascia boards, it is easy to install the hidden hangers. Place the hidden hangers every 3 ft. to support the gutters and strengthen the forward-facing edges of the roof gutters. Hangers are used and placed over the back edges but as the flashing is installed, just hold them on level and screw it well through the flashing.

With the help of a driller, fit in the screws into the fascia for a firm and strong placement of hidden hangers in your roof gutters.

Installing downspout

Lady adjusting Downspout
Women mounting Downspout

Downspout works prominently because it leads the accumulated water to transfer from the surface of the roof to the grounds. Attach the elbow to the downspout outlet. Grab another elbow from the bottom surface and measure the correct distance between them. Overlap each of the holder’s ends. Make a use of a hacksaw for cutting the length from the downspout tube to the crimped end.

Now crimp one end of the shortened downspout with a special sheet metal crimper. Crimp thrice on both the edges and twice on the narrow sides. Fit the short and narrow downspout edges to the both the elbows and connect it with a metal sheet in each joints.

Fasten the brackets to the walls for offering a perfect grip to the elbows installed. Cut a U shaped bracket and screw the corners. Measuring the corners of the home is important for marking the exact location of the installing roof gutter brackets. Spacing is mandatory of at least six ft. using stainless steel screw is helpful in the process. The bottom surface of the elbow should be above 6 inches from the level. Snap the elbows into the brackets and secure it well by screwing it.

Assemble both the tube and the elbows together for avoiding the water damage leaking out of the joints. It is advisable of using metal screws instead of rivets for better installation. It is helpful in disassembling it when cleaning is required. Pre painting the gutters is important for avoiding corrosion and damaging effects. Proper finish and installation will help you in leading a perfect roof gutter installation. Gutter maintenance is the key factor for enjoying a perfect roof gutter.

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How to clean roof gutters

Many home owners take their roof gutters for granted. They think that only installing it is enough. They ignore the fact that it is clogged by the debris and leaves and it will go away on its own. But it doesn’t works that way. It only gets worst and worst further. Eventually it can lead to sagging of roof gutters, foundation issues or even water logged basement.

DIY roof gutter cleaning process is easy and simple to comply. While cleaning the gutters wear gloves in hands for protecting from sharp metal edges and parts. Watch out for the screws installed. Also wear safety goggles for avoiding any damaging effects. Garb a ladder, step on it but be careful about working on the roof. It is advisable of having a bucket with you for discharging the accumulated debris observed in the roof gutters and downspout.

Before you start the process of cleaning roof gutters, it is useful clean and loose the debris and leaves. It becomes easy for the home owners to remove it while cleaning roof gutters. Use appropriate tools for peeling and discharging the accumulated debris and leaves from the gutters.

So it is important to learn the basics of cleaning the downspouts and roof gutters installed at your home.

  • Scoop out the loose debris observed in the roof gutters. Use a narrow garden shovel to scoop out the loose debris. It will help you in knowing the exact time for cleaning the roof gutters. It is quite easy to remove the debris if it is slightly damp and not soggy or encrusted. For reducing your work for instance, accumulate the entire debris into the bucket and dispose it later.
  • Use a hose for blasting and cleaning the roof gutters. Make a note on using high pressured nozzle at the end of the water hose. Wash out each and every part of the gutter. Work it towards the drain outlet to the downspout. This process can be messy, but try to avoid splashing mud water on the entire home. It is advisable of using a hard brush for removing the stubborn dust and dirt observed.
  • If the water doesn’t drain freely through the roof gutters, use a hose for draining and unclogging the accumulated debris. If this doesn’t work make the use of a plumber’s snake to extract and pull off the stubborn debris from the drain pipes. In some situation, you can push the clogged debris from the top for releasing out of the drainage pipe.
  • Don’t wait for any season to have the process of roof gutter cleaning. Inspect and clean the gutters in both spring and autumn seasons for better functioning. You may also need to loosen the debris observed with the help of a scrubber or a hard brush. Streaming of water will lead in cleaning the materials that has become logged and stiff in the downspout.
  • Three Extended downspout from the roof
    Customized Extended downspout

    It is important to check the slope of the roof gutter for keeping the water moving in the downspout. Inspecting with the help of running water into the gutters is another way of checking the downspout. If the water moves slowly it indicates that either the slope of the roof gutter is not appropriate or the situation of clogged debris.

  • Repositioning the slope of the downspout leads you in having better roof gutter installation. Maintaining and roof gutter cleaning becomes an easy task for the home owners.

The ultimate result should be: downspout functions and expels water away from your home. Customize the roof gutters by extending the downspout with the help of the extenders for carrying the water away from the foundation of the home. It results in many benefits. Even installing a tank for collecting the water is a better concept. Process and the tips of roof gutter cleaning are mentioned above for having and experience the best fun of installing roof gutters at your home.


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