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Question DetailsAsked on 4/25/2013

how many years do rain gutters last?

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2 Answers


Depends on the materials. Old fashioned galvinized gutters were good as long as they did not rust thru. Keeping them clean was required. Once they start rusting thru mostly time to say audios. Aluminum gutters will not rust. The weak points on them is the joints (leaks) and the hangers. All joint glue is on borrowed time. Eventually it will have to be overglued or it will leak. If leaking you can clean the joint completely and reglue with an elastomeric like GeoCell (lowes, menards etc). If it is ladder damage or tree limb strikes not much can fix it.

The hangers vary from very bad -spike and ferral (nails), to very good with hidden hangers and 2" screws driven into the fascia or rafters. All gutters should be pitched with a level not the human eye.

For proper drainage and hanging tips see my blogs

Jim Casper Gutter and Gutter Cover Doctor


Answered 7 years ago by jccasper


First answer pretty well covered the alternatives. My personal experience is actually contrary to what many installers say, which is that extruded seamless aluminum lasts longest and leaks the least. Because of corrosion from acids washing off the roof and from leaves sitting in the bottom of the gutter, I have seen numberous aluminum and galvanized or painted steel gutters fail in less than 10 years, and any joints seem to leak regardless of type of sealer used.

On my own house, in heavy snow and ice country with substantially sub-zero winters and more than 12 hours of sun exposure in the spring through summer, my vinyl RainGo (now called Genova) gutters have lasted 30 years. The only maintenance, other than clearing leaves and hot-water thawing of an occasional ice blockage from spring snow melt icing up the gutter overnight (which vinyl gutters have less tendency to do than metal gutters, because they do not transfer heat as well), has been replacing a couple of the hangers I accidentally hit with the ladder and broke off, and one-time replacement of maybe 4 of my 10 or so rubber gaskets, that started to leak after 15-20 years.

Three advantages of the vinyl are that it comes in white or brown finish, can be painted with trim paint if you want to change the color (although I would not recommend that unless you prepare the surface VERY well, as it would look REALLY bad if it started to peel), and can easily be installed by yourself with just regular hand tools if you are ladder-handy.

I would recommend installing with as steep a slope as you can manage, not just the low slope 1/2 percent (1/4 inch in 4 feet) recommended in the literature. I started the brackets as high as I could in the center of the roofline (so the gutter actually tucked up under the overhanging shingles), then snapped a stringline to as low as I could install it without having to build special supports for the hangers. On a 5-1/2 inch fascia board that gave me about 5 inches of drop over a 24 foot run from center to each corner of the house, or about 1-3/4 percent drop - about triple recommended. That left about 1-1/2 inch of the brackets hanging below the fascia board by the time I got to the end and the gutter itself hangs several inches below the fascia bottom edge, so there is a very noticeable arch to the gutter which makes it look a bit funny, but it works ! That greater slope certainly makes a difference in carrying off leaves, and in getting the water down the downspout before it freezes in the gutter when the roof is melting off but the air temperature is still below freezing.

I also did NOT use the bevel spacers they sell to level the gutter on sloping fascia boards - if you leave it tilted at the fascia board angle, then if the water backs up due to leaf blockage, freezing, etc instead of the ice and water backing up and saturating the fascia board as it overflows, it only overflows over the lower front edge of the gutter, doing no damage to the house.

In a heavy snow or icing area, or if you have metal roof where big slabs of snow slide off, I would recommend not more than 24" spacing on the hangers instead of the wider recommended spacing, else snow/ice load can cause them to break off. I have had zero breakage from snow and ice load, including one time the gutter froze completely full overnight ; a neighbor who went 48 inch spacing had his entire gutter trough break off two years in a row.

Answered 7 years ago by LCD

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