Most gutter systems, excluding ones made of plastic or vinyl, will last for 20 plus years. However, anything you can do to skip having to replace them as long as you’re living in the house is a good thing. Ways to extend the life of your gutters include installing some kind of leaf protection and judicious landscaping.
Monitoring the Gutters
Yes, of course you know that cleaning your gutters is the best way to add a little longevity. Keeping gutter channels and downspouts free of debris prevents dirt, leaves and twigs from building up and creating clogs. But monitoring the gutters goes beyond scheduled cleanings two or three times a year. Check gutters after a particularly windy day, a wind storm, heavy rains or several days in a row of significant weather conditions. Look for loosened nails and fasteners; obvious gaps between gutters and fascia; pooled water in gutter channels and around the bottom of the downpipe; and dents and other types of damage to the exterior surface of the gutters.
Installing a Leaf Protection System
Wet leaves and debris add weight. Over time, if unattended, the extra weight can cause gutters to pull away from the fascia, sag or shift, disrupting proper slope. Reducing the amount of junk that enters the gutters lessens the strain on your gutter system. There are several types of gutter guards or leaf screens: pick one that is easy for you to install and maintain.
When planting new trees, give careful thought to how near the house they will be once they start growing and after they are full-grown. For trees already growing on the property, regularly trim back the ones that shed leaves on the roof and into the gutters.
Don’t forget the downspouts. If the gutters are in relatively good shape but are still holding water, check the downpipes. Make sure that the downspout is not clogged and is free of debris both at the top (where it connects to the gutters) and at the bottom (where water drains away).