5 Reasons To Avoid DIY Gutter Installation
Popularity for Do It Yourself, or DIY projects has soared during the COVID-19 era. During these modern times of sheltering-in-place, many of us have looked outside of everyday arts & crafts for household tasks to occupy our time. Now that the attic has been organized, the basement has been repurposed, and many are looking for new projects to focus on.
As the autumnal months begin to settle in, some of us have even set our sights on our gutters. Sure, the job seems straightforward enough: you measure how much gutter you need, and you attach it to the roof, right? The truth is, there’s much, much more that goes into how to install a rain gutter properly.
While such a project may not seem as daunting as cleaning out the garage or laying tile, there are several reasons why a DIY gutter installation is a really, really bad idea.
1. The Scale – How much needs to be done?
Many people tend to underestimate the sheer scale of a project like installing rain gutters. Even the most seasoned tinkerers and handy folk will struggle with issues found during a gutter install if they have not performed one in the past. For instance, if your house is less than 2 feet away from your neighbors’, the amount of guttering you’ll need won’t be as extensive as a house that is surrounded by trees. Underestimating the scale of installing rain gutters can result in the unnecessary purchase of excess materials and a general lack of preparation for the full job.
2. The Materials
The number of tools and materials necessary to install rain gutters cannot and should not be understated. While some of us have acquired an impressive tool collection over the years, you must resist the urge to try and perform a gutter installation on your own.
Here’s a small sample of the tools required for the job:
- Stool or stepladder (depending on how tall your roof is)
- Safety gear like goggles and gloves
- Power tools and extra battery packs
- A permanent pen or marker to mark your cuts
- A 25+ foot tape measurer
- Gutter brackets
- Construction glue and appropriate glue sealant
- A caulking gun (for the actual glue)
…And that’s not including the actual gutters themselves! Unless you happen to have all of these tools lying about the house, this can prove to be an expensive trip to the hardware store indeed.
3. The Unseen
Did you know that installing gutters involves more than just attaching them to your roof? The surrounding areas need to be in good order before anything should be screwed or wired to them.
The soffits, or the areas under your roof between the gutter and the wall, for example, may have sustained water damage, and the rotting wood will need replacing. If the flat boards wrapping around your house located under your roof, called fascia, show signs of damage, they’ll need to be replaced as well. Attaching new gutters to damaged fascia and soffits may seem like a step you can skip, but doing so can result in more repairs down the line.
4. The Help – Two hands are definitely not going to be enough!
As self-sufficient as you may be, there is no real way to go about a DIY gutter installation safely, especially not by yourself. Any task or job that requires climbing an extended ladder usually requires another person to either steady the ladder, or at the very least, someone to be ready to call an ambulance in the event of a fall or an accident.
Aside from that, the task of installing rain gutters goes much faster when you have two or more people working at once. Having an extra set of hands nearby means you’ll have someone to hold the gutter while you secure it to your roof. Another person means you also won’t have to keep climbing up and down the ladder when you need to switch tools.
5. Directing The Drainage
This is the part of the job that most people forget to factor in to their project. Let’s say for argument’s sake that you’ve somehow managed to procure all the appropriate tools and right amount of materials that you’ll need. You’ve even managed to convince a friend or family member to assist you with your DIY gutter installation. Here’s what should be an obvious question: where do you secure your new gutters?
The short answer might seem to be “on the roof”, but do you know which direction they’ll need to face to function properly? Gutters should also be secured on enough of an angle that the water they collect should be able to drain naturally. Did you know that gutters of a certain length might actually need two points of drainage? After all, what good is installing rain gutters if the rain has nowhere to go once it’s actually in the gutter? If installed improperly, gutters will merely catch the rain and not drain it away from your house. This can result in those damaged fascia and soffits mentioned earlier, or worse.
Leave It To A Professional
Let’s face it – all of us are looking for ways in which we can save money. Things are uncertain right now, so it makes sense that some of us are open to tackling large projects that we wouldn’t ordinarily attempt on our own. While we might not want to admit it, installing rain gutters is not the same as starting a garden or painting the kids’ room.
Aside from that, many first-timers underestimate what a gutter installation costs out-of-pocket. For example, you may have a ladder, but is it tall enough to reach the roof? It may not seem difficult – or expensive – to learn how to install a rain gutter. But in doing so, many folks usually end up spending outside of their budget, especially if they make common, and often avoidable mistakes.