When Should You Replace Your Gutters?

Gutters aren’t a big item most homeowners keep an eye on. If gutters are mostly doing their job, homeowners usually ignore them. So how to you know if your gutters need replaced or just repaired? Below are a few situations where your gutters should be replaced.

leaf protection on tan house with white gutters
5″ White  Leaf Protection on home in Normal IL

After a roof replacement – The best rule of thumb is to replace your gutters right after your roof has been replaced. When your old gutters are removed all the seals are broken. It’s hard to reseal old gutters once that’s been broken. If you keep up with the pattern of replacing your gutters everytime your roof has been replaced, you should not have any problems with your gutters.

Large Quantity of Rust Spots or Holes – Sometimes this can be repaired by sealant or a new section of gutters. But if rust or holes are consistent on every run of gutter, replacing your gutters will be better a choice to spend money on.

Sagging gutters are caused from improper pitch on gutters.
Sagging gutters are caused from improper pitch on gutters.

Sagging or Bowed Out Gutters – Sagging and bowing is caused by improperly pitched gutters. Water begins to pool and be held at sections of gutters; without being able to drain out the gutter sags at the weight of water over time. Once a couple sections are sagging, it’s best just to replace your gutters and make sure all runs have proper pitch to allow for drainage.

Flooded Basement – What a nightmare! And an expensive nightmare if you have a furnished basement. If your gutters are old and just aren’t making the cut your basement can flood. When your gutters aren’t channeling water away from your home’s perimeter, all that water seeps into your basement. Over time this can cause foundation damages too!

Wrong Size Gutters This can be hard for the average homeowner to decipher, but any contractor should be able to stop by (at no charge) to verify if your home has the proper sized gutters. Most homes come with the standard 5” gutter; however, if your home has a really steep pitch the water flow can amplify and overwhelm the 5” gutter system. Click here to visit our other article on 5” vs 6” Gutters.

5″ Gutters vs 6″ Gutters

Left side has 5" gutters, Right side has 6" gutters
Left side has 5″ gutters, Right side has 6″ gutters

It’s time to replace your gutters and you’ve been hearing all these things about 6″ gutters; so, is it worth the money to expand the size of your gutters and downspouts? What are the benefits of that extra inch? What are the drawbacks?

In the past, residential homes have 5″ gutters and 2″x3″ downspouts and commercial buildings have 6″ gutters with 3″x4″ downspouts. Currently, we are seeing more residents expand their downspouts to 3″x4″ and some even install the complete 6″ gutter system.

Pro’s in having a 6″ gutter system:

  • Able to handle/carry more water
  • Less downspouts
  • Easier to clean
  • Debris passes through easier (not to be confused as self-cleaning- the openings are larger so debris has more room to be flushed through- 6″ gutters are not self-cleaning)

Con’s for installing a 6″gutter system:

  • Costs more to install
  • Fewer installers have the equipment necessary to install
  • Debris can still build up
  • Can be seen as an aesthetic drawback by being larger in size
6" gutter profile (left) 5"gutter profile (right)
6″ gutter profile (left) 5″gutter profile (right)

Like with any home exterior product selection, you need to take in consideration your situation (surrounding trees, roof steepness, etc.), climate, and rainfall density. A 6″ gutter system is more durable against strong storms by being capable to carry more water but if you live in a fairly dry part of the country, water carrying capacity is not a priority of yours. If you don’t want to make the leap completely into 6″gutter system, or can’t find an installer capable, try 3″x4″ downspouts instead of your 2″x3″ downspouts.

3x4 spouts (left)      2x3 spouts (right)
3×4 spouts (left)           2×3 spouts (right)