expansion and contraction of the gutters tends to crack the seam caulk of sectional systems. If this happens, the seams have to be re-caulked from the inside with a special gutter sealant. Seamless gutters are installed by professionals because they require specialized machinery which shapes a roll of sheet metal on site, extruding a length of gutter to a specific measure- ment that fits the job. (Note: When specifying seamless metal gutters, choose the thickest you can afford; 0.032-inch metal is recommended.) Sectional gutters are commonly found at hardware stores and home centers. Made of aluminum or vinyl, these gutters are sold in pieces and can be installed by DIY’ers as component systems.
PLANNING If installing a new sectional gutter, the first step is to sketch out your system on paper so you can quantify the various compo- nents required. Measure your roof line and wall height to calculate the number of 10-foot sections of gutter and downspout you’ll need. Next, account for end caps, seam- ers (which are placed at joints
between gutter sections), inside or outside corner pieces, down- spout elbows and end drops (plus flanges for the end drops). You’ll need gutter sealant for sealing the joints, sheet-metal screws to connect the downspout sections, and downspout bands to fasten against the house.
LADDERS When installing a gutter system, be prepared to spend a lot of time working at potentially dangerous heights. Because so much roof work is involved, it’s a good idea to attach a ladder stabilizer to the top of your ladder. Not only does a bracket attachment safely prevent the ladder from swaying from left to right while you’re standing on it, but it also provides a 10-inch standoff from the roof line, which makes it easier to access the fas- cia and gutter without obstruction from the ladder. The stabilizer also rests on the roof, rather than on the shingles, fascia or house siding, so there’s no worry of accidental damage from contact with the ladder. Tip: To provide a bit more elbow room for working, the EHT staff uses PVC pipe extensions added to the ends of the bracket.
PREASSEMBLY To limit your time working atop the ladder, the safest approach is to assemble as much of the gutter system on the ground as possible. But keep them small enough to safely carry up the ladder. A gutter requires an “end drop” at each downspout location. To join the end drop to the gutter— or to join any gutter section to another—requires a “seamer.” The seamer is a 3-inch wide piece of aluminum in a profile that matches the gutter. First, apply
When installing gutters, a ladder stabilizer will enhance safety and grant you some working room along the roof line. In this photo, we’re adding PVC pipe extensions to the stabilizer attachment.
Follow all ladder safety guidelines. This Little Giant SumoStance extension ladder is equipped with a stabilizer at the top and adjustable rail extensions at the bottom. Note all the debris on the ground that we’ve removed from the clogged gutters.