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and maintenance of gutters and siding in the Vancouver Lower Mainland.

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What does it mean to Install Gutters Properly?

When troubleshooting rain gutters some common problems such as overflowing and standing water can be attributed to an incorrectly installed gutter system. Gutters play an important role in how well a gutter system protects your home. Factors that contribute to a successful gutter installation include the correct slope, number of downspouts, and the number of hangers.

Gutter Material

Each type of gutter material has its own properties and needs to be installed accordingly. A contractor that specializes in seamless aluminum gutters might be less knowledgeable about copper gutter systems. A professional gutter installation technician will also know not to mix metals.

Positioning

Gutters installed too close to the roofline encourage water to slide in between the back of the gutter and the fascia. Gutters should hang several inches below the edge of the roof to allow water to directly enter the gutter system.

Gutter sections should be level – no leaning forward or backward – to avoid runoff from spilling over the sides.

In the past, it has been an accepted gutter installation practice to let water drain directly onto a lower roof level. However, since it tends to age a roof faster, many contractors now advise installing gutters on every sloped roof edge.

Sloping Downward

Gutters need to slope downward, guiding water toward the downpipes. The slope, also known as pitch, needs to be enough of an angle to keep water flowing through the gutter channel to the gutter outlet (where downspout connects to gutter section).

Number of Downspouts

If the number of downspouts isn’t properly calculated, insufficient downpipes could jeopardize the lifespan of a gutter system. In order to optimally protect a house from water damage, downspouts need to be placed for maximum functionality and end far enough away from the foundation.

Number of Hangers

Gutters need the right number of hangers to hold them in place, fastening them securely to the fascia. If too many gutter hangers are used, it spoils the aesthetics of your home and adds more parts to an aluminum gutter system that are prone to rust. If too few are used, it makes the gutters vulnerable to wind and heavy rainfalls.

Home Renovations in Winter

It might seem counterintuitive to plan a major house remodeling project during the winter months. But homeowners who tackle renovations from late November to the beginning of March might be surprised to discover that they can add significant value to their homes while saving money.

Interior Renovations

The most common home improvements to complete during winter include:

  • repainting a group of rooms (on the ground floor/all of the bedrooms)
  • replacing flooring
  • transforming an unfinished basement into a usable space
  • updating lighting
  • updating kitchen cabinets
  • revamping a small bathroom
  • converting a garage

Exterior Renovations

While it makes more sense to focus on indoor renovations during winter months, doing home exterior improvements now can cut the total cost by 30 percent or more. Contractors such as roofing professionals, siding specialists and gutter installers will let you know exactly what to expect. Some exterior renovations that can be accomplished during the winter season are:

  • building a deck
  • remodeling a porch
  • adding a sunroom
  • replacing or repairing a roof
  • adding a leaf protection system that fits over the gutters

Contractors – Availability and Scheduling

During winter, building contractors typically have less exterior work scheduled. This means there’s more time to take on home remodeling projects. When contractors are available, homeowners have more scheduling options. Often homeowners begin home improvements in the spring after receiving tax refunds; as building contractors become busier, their rates tend to rise.

Permits

Government agencies and municipal offices are generally less busy in winter months, making it easier and quicker to get the necessary permits. The same goes for any building inspections that need to be scheduled after the project has been completed.

Sales and Year-End Clearances

Many retailers offer winter sales and year-end clearances. If you’re redoing the laundry room, adding a home theatre or remodeling the master bedroom, paying less for new appliances, furniture, and home décor items will make your budget go further.

Factors that Affect Gutter Estimates

Recently you decided to invest in new gutters. So, you did your homework, including asking for referrals. One of the three estimates you received was from a gutter installation company that a neighbour recommended. But the estimate the contractor sent you was thirty percent higher. Why the difference? Whether you’re hiring a gutter installer, plumber, or electrician, here are some factors that affect the original estimate given to you by a contractor.

Type of Gutter

The type of gutter you choose will have an impact on the estimated cost of the installation of your gutter system. Seamless gutters cost more than sectional gutters. Gutter width is also a factor – most gutter installation companies charge more for 6-inch gutters than they do for 5-inch gutter systems.

Gutter System Material

Materials used to produce gutters include a wide range of options. Aluminum gutters will be less expensive than a copper gutter system. Sectional galvanized steel gutters typically cost more than aluminum but are not as expensive as copper gutters.

Square Footage

When installing gutters, contractors generally charge per linear foot. The larger the home, the larger the drainage area. A gutter system for medium to large sized houses requires more guttering and downspouts, adding to the cost of materials.

Size and Accessibility

In terms of storeys, costs of a gutter installation increase because a larger home might require more crew members, more safety equipment, specialized equipment, and permits.

Another factor that affects gutter estimates is accessibility. A combination of house size and roof configuration can create areas that are difficult for installers to access.

Gutter System Components

How many hangers will be used to install the gutters? Does the gutter system need downspout extensions and/or splash blocks? Does the contractor plan on using prefabricated corners or fabricating them by hand? Would you like to add a leaf protection system? For a homeowner purchasing gutters, there are many options to choose from, all of which result in price variations even in estimates for similar products and services.

Labour Costs

Local labour costs greatly affect the total price of a gutter estimate. Fully licensed, bonded and insured gutter technicians will cost more. Other factors that determine labour costs include the use of subcontractors, special permits and site requirements, and attention to detail. For example, if a gutter installation technician takes actual measurements instead of eyeballing the slope, it will take longer.

Fun Facts about Gutters

There’s nothing fun about gutters, especially cleaning them and keeping a gutter system properly maintained. But perhaps you’d like to add some gargoyles to your roof or gutters to your car! Here are some amusing and fun facts about gutters you might not know.

First Appearances

Archaeologists have discovered that ancient civilizations throughout Asia and Europe, as early as 3000 B.C., used materials such as stones, bricks, and wood to create a drainage system designed to divert water from one place to another.

Roman, Greek and Egyptian civilizations used water spouts attached to the edges of roofs to direct water to the ground. They frequently took the shape of animals’ heads, typically the lion.

Gutters during the Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, the French incorporated gargoyles into several styles of architecture, particularly Gothic style buildings. Gargoyles were designed to direct water from the roof away from the walls where moisture would harm the masonry. While gargoyles took many different shapes, they all have similar characteristics – scary faces, devil wings, long claws, and a menacing air about them. When it looks like a gargoyle but doesn’t spit water, it is known as a “grotesque.”

Gutters made of Wood

Before the 19th century, most gutters were made of wood. Historically speaking, wood was a common construction material because it was readily available and easy to work with, requiring few tools. Today, just the opposite is true – wood is one of the most expensive materials and not practical for the production of gutters systems.

One Person’s Treasure

Most gutter professionals are happy to entertain you with stories about the “weird” things they have discovered when cleaning the gutters. You’d expect balls of various kinds, but gutter cleaning techs have found a wide range of toys from Frisbees to dolls to racing cars to LEGO creations. Some pros reported finding high heeled shoes, sneakers, and lunch boxes.

Gutter System for Cars

Until they disappeared in the mid-80s, cars came with drip rails or rain gutters that kept rain and snow off drivers and passengers while keeping the upholstery free from damp. Sounds like a really good idea, right? The reason they are no longer used on cars is a combination of style and fuel economy. Die-hard designers claimed that the drip rail messed with aerodynamics, reducing fuel economy. One-piece body sides commonly used in the manufacture of automobiles eliminated the place where the drip rail once was located

Add Decorative Elements to Your Gutters

Most of us have seen those funny and outrageous downspout pics on social media. The Tin Man downspout is especially amusing. But even new standard gutters tend to be bland. By adding decorative elements such as leader heads or embossed brackets, homeowners can easily increase their curb appeal with a gutter system that looks as good as it is functional.

Rain Chains

Rain chains have been around for hundreds of years, originating in Japan. Today, they are typically used instead of downspouts. They can be incorporated into a gutter system in three main ways: by replacing all of the downpipes; by replacing just one downspout; or by adding to the existing number of downpipes. Rain chains consist of a string of shapes that interrupt the speed of the water as it flows down from the roof. The aesthetic appeal of a rain chain is its availability in a wide range of materials, designs, and themes.

Leader Heads

If downpipes can’t be directly connected to the gutters, leader heads are used to collect water and direct it into the downspouts. However, in the past few years, leader heads or conductor boxes have become a popular decorative element of gutter systems even when downpipes are connected to the gutters by a gutter outlet. A leader head is made of any type of material other types of gutter accessories are made from including copper, steel, and aluminum. Decorative leader heads offer elegant architectural detailing to a home exterior.

Decorative Downspouts

Decorative downspouts add a distinctive character to your home. They come in a number of options, including themed downspout add-ons that attach over the end of downpipe just below the elbow where the water exits or ones that fit over the bottom half of the downpipe, replacing the standard elbow.

Decorative Hangers and Brackets

You can further increase the visual impact of a gutter system with decorative hangers for gutters and brackets for downspouts. While many types of gutter accessories, including brackets and hangers, are made of copper designed to be used with copper gutters, you can find engraved or stamped hangers and brackets made of metals compatible with aluminum gutters.

Bad Things Happen to Good Gutters

A bright shiny new gutter system, unfortunately, doesn’t stay that way without being properly maintained. Gutters control water flow, directing it to the downspouts. When gutters aren’t cleaned regularly, other parts of your home’s exterior like the soffit, fascia, and foundation become vulnerable to water damage. Here are some bad things that can happen to good gutters.

Clogged Gutters

Gutters filled with twigs, leaves, dirt, and particles of other types of materials like shingle granules, pine cones, and needles stop water from exiting the downpipes. This allows debris to build up and encourages standing water. Rainwater breaks down organic matter and over time turns it into sludge, damaging the protective finish of any type of gutter. When the finish is compromised on aluminum gutters, it makes them susceptible to rust.

Overloaded Gutters

Standing water in the gutter channel also adds weight to the gutter system. When gutters become heavy with a combination of rainwater and debris, they can pull away from the fascia, resulting in sagging and even missing sections of guttering. Whole sections breaking loose render a gutter system non-functional.

Overloaded gutters typically put extra pressure on joints and seams, causing them to leak.

Onset of Rot

When rain falls into gutters already overloaded with standing water, they overflow. Overflowing gutters allow water to land undirected, creating a place for mould and/or moss to grow and moisture to get in behind soffit and siding panels where light and air can’t reach. When rot sets in, wood fascia becomes incapable of supporting a gutter system.

Warping

Aluminum gutters and vinyl gutters become warped for a number of reasons, but the two most common causes of warping are surface damage to the finish and expansion and contraction. When the protective finish on a gutter system wears away, it allows the gutter material to become exposed to the elements. This generally means the gutters will eventually become misshapen (warping for metal gutters and splitting or cracking for vinyl gutters).

Expansion and contraction is a gutter system’s response to heat and cold. It becomes a problem over time when caulking wears away and fasteners/screws/nails shift, setting the stage for more warping or splitting.

Essential Gutter Cleaning Tools

Cleaning the gutters seems straightforward enough – gunk collected in the gutter system has to be removed. Most people agree that when you have the right tools for the job it makes the task at hand easier and more manageable. These essential gutter cleaning tools will help you get the results you want – thoroughly cleaned gutters free of debris.

Good Ladder

The ladder you choose for your gutter cleaning chore should be strong and sturdy. It should also be the right ladder for the job – a 10’ step ladder is great for a one-storey home, but not for a house that’s two or more storeys. A straight or extension ladder that has a standoff will protect aluminum gutters from being dented. A ladder that includes a shelf is the best place for a pail and the gutter cleaning tools you’re not using at the moment but need close to hand.

Garden Hose

Unless you’re a gutter cleaning professional, power and pressure washers might damage gutters and/or create damp areas ideal for moss/mold/mildew growth. In this case, a garden hose is the most economical and safe tool for cleaning the gutters. Attaching a pistol-grip spray nozzle allows you to control the direction and amount of water, and it can be hooked on the side of the ladder when not in use.

Gutter Scoop

A gutter scoop, unlike a garden trowel, is specifically designed with high sides to contain the debris until it can be disposed of. To avoid scratching the bottom of the gutter, select a plastic gutter scoop over a metal one.

Soft Bristle Brush

A soft all-purpose bristle brush can be used to scrub dirt, stains, and silt from the bottom of the gutter. You can also use it to clean the outside or face of the gutters. When choosing one with a handle, select a bristle brush with a handle on the top rather than the side – it will be easier to maneuver inside the gutter channel.

Protective Gear

A good pair of heavy work gloves will protect your hands from scrapes and germs. Wear safety glasses or safety goggles to guard against splashes and flying debris. Rubber-soled shoes help keep you from slipping when climbing a ladder or walking on the roof.

Fall Curb Appeal

Crisp air, leaves changing colour, orange pumpkins, and bright yellow chrysanthemums – there is something very special about autumn. Adding seasonal touches to your home’s exterior is a simple way to update your curb appeal.

Decorate the Front Door

Transform the front door by hanging a garland of autumn leaves, trailing vines, or branches combined with small gourds. Pair the garland with a matching wreath.

Window Boxes

Another way to bring the spirit of fall to your front yard is to add window boxes. Fall flowers and seasonal grasses give color to the landscaping and lend charm to your home. When choosing the kind of window box, consider the type of material that will fit in with your home’s exterior. Wood boxes tend to add a rustic feel, while copper and iron window boxes provide a more traditional look.

Cleaning the Exterior

Clean the exterior of your home to remove accumulated grime, dirt, and particles before they etch glass panes and scratch siding. You don’t have to do it all at once. Spraying the siding with water first will give you a better idea if you need a soft bristle brush and a pail of soapy water. Spruce up the windows, doors, trim, and steps on another day.

Thoroughly clean the gutter system inside and out. Yes, it’s more important to get rid of the debris inside the gutter channel. But removing surface dirt from the gutter face helps preserve the finish.

Don’t forget to clean hardscape elements such as a pathway, driveway, wood deck or paved patio, especially if they are visible from the street.

Lawn TLC

Leave the leaves for the trees. It’s not just a matter of aesthetics. Once they have fallen and are left on the ground, they can do your lawn more harm than good. A lawn must be allowed to breathe. Layers of leaves block sunlight, oxygen, and water required for a healthy lawn. Trapped moisture in the soil can lead to fungi growth. Rake the lawn, seed bald patches and add fertilizer.

Those Finishing Touches

Flank planters on either side of the door and on the stairs leading up to the house.

Add edging – plants, stone, brickwork – to sidewalks and driveways. Use fall plants and/or flowering shrubs.

Create an autumn-themed display by repurposing a little red wagon, old wheelbarrow, or vintage wash tub.

Cleaning the Gutters in the Fall is Important

Gutter professionals typically advise cleaning the gutters twice a year. Cleaning a gutter system annually is preferable to not cleaning it at all. But choose the “right” season: there are several compelling reasons why it’s important to clean gutters in the fall.

Not Just Leaves

Temperature, sunlight, and soil moisture dictate when trees shed their leaves. A fall that is warm and mild will see the leaves stay on the trees anywhere from one to three weeks longer, while an autumn that is cold and dry will cause the trees to shed one to three weeks earlier.

Leaves are light, so how much of a threat can they be? But leaves that land in the gutters are generally mixed with twigs, dirt, miscellaneous objects, and bits of organic matter. Add water from rainfall or a periodic storm: the result can be clogged gutters that are heavy, putting additional stress on the fascia.

If pine trees grow close to the house, needles can also enter the gutter system. While they appear green year-round, pine trees shed their needles over a period of weeks rather than all at once like deciduous trees. When you have both types of trees on your property, try to clean the gutters as close to the end of the fall as possible.

In From the Cold

Roof overhangs and gutters filled with leaves and other organic materials look inviting to animals wanting to come in from the cold. Common winter nesters in the Lower Mainland include rodents, raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, and birds. They can burrow into the attic space, and damage roof tiles, siding, and downspouts as they travel back and forth from nest to food source.

Prepping for Winter

Cleaning the gutters in the fall is an important step to prepping your home exterior for winter. Keeping the gutter system free of debris ensures that water can freely flow through the gutter channel to the downpipes. Fall gutter cleaning should also include an inspection of seams and joints, nails and fastens holding the gutter system in place, and damaged gutter sections that might not make it until spring.

Advantages of Maintaining Your Gutters

Neglected gutters can cause unwanted problems. Most homeowners know that gutters need to be cleaned at least twice a year (spring and fall). It’s a chore no one really wants to do. So, as we head further into gutter cleaning season, let MHC Gutters remind you of the advantages of maintaining your gutter system throughout the year.

Curb Appeal

The saying “Appearance is everything” is very true when it comes to gutters. Standard gutters hang from the fascia and therefore are noticeable. A gutter system that is streaked, dented, worn, faded or sagging detracts from your home’s curb appeal and can make your home unwelcoming.

Improve Functionality

There is no denying that Vancouver gutters get a lot of rain. When a gutter system is cluttered with debris or has moss growing in the gutter channel, unimpeded water flow to the downspout is not possible. Maintaining your gutters and keeping them free of clogs improves functionality. Water that doesn’t drain properly from the gutter system can lead to a number of problems including:

  • standing water in the gutter channel (adds weight)
  • pooling water around the downspouts (flooding basement)
  • overflowing gutters (landscape erosion)

Increase Life Span

Regardless of the material gutters are made of, keeping them well-maintained increases their life span. When a gutter system is free of debris, it minimizes potential damage to gutter sections and downpipes. A gutter system that leaks, overflows, or doesn’t drain properly invites moisture-related problems such as mold, mildew and foundation damage.

Avoid Expensive Costs

Regularly maintaining gutters through scheduled gutter cleanings and periodic inspections are excellent preventive medicine. Making repairs, stopping leaks, and doing those other little tweaks that keep a gutter system running smoothly prevent problems from escalating and having to spend money to fix them.

Unwanted Guests

Don’t invite unwanted guests. Gutters filled with leaves, twigs, and other types of organic residue are attractive to pests like wasps, bees, birds, and squirrels looking for a home.