Different Gutters By Different Contractors – What is the industry standard?

I have been fielding a lot of phone calls this summer, from people looking for new gutters. Most of these homeowner’s ask me just two questions. How much does it cost? And how soon can you install them?

However, there are a few other questions you should consider asking once you get a chance to speak with a Eavestroughing company.

A) What size is your Gutter Machine ? This question is an important one.
Gutter sizes are based on the roof area and pitch of the building. Generally, in our area 5 inch gutters can handle the majority of most roof loads. But in certain cases 6 inch Gutters are better.

Most Eavestroughing companies can create a 4 inch, 5 inch or 6 inch Seamless gutter on site. Four inch gutters are considered “old school” and are what most homeowners are trying to upgrade from. Six inch gutters are categorized as a “Commercial Sized” Gutter and are used mostly on commercial buildings or metal roofs with lots of roof space or longer roof edges.

But what you need to know is that 5 inch gutters are the industry standard for most Residential homes at the moment. Currently, Our company runs only the 5 inch extruding gutter machine.

B) How do you finish your Outside/ Inside Miter Corners?  There are many ways to finish corners on gutter runs. Each way has it’s pros and cons. What follows is a quick overview of what is considered industry standards for finishing Eaves trough corners.

Miter Caps: Some contractors in our area use Miter caps. These are a specially designed piece of Aluminum that caps a 90 degree corner. (either inside or outside corner.) The problem with this system is that the underlying trough material is not cut very precisely. Leaving lots of area that needs to be caulked. As we know, caulking that is exposed to the elements breaks down over time. In addition to that there is often 6-8 screws that are installed on a corner that could cause leaking over time.

Miter Boxes: Home Depot sells these fancy things called Corner Miter Boxes for inside/outside corner installation. I have only ever seen them in White. So not much selection there. However, if you are curious about what they look like you can see them here.
https://www.homedepot.ca/product/peak-products-aluminum-gutter-5-inch-outside-corner-box-mitre-white/1000183342

As you can see in the video link above, there is a lot of caulking and splicing that needs to be done with this type of system. Again, when splicing gutters together, you or your installer will need to add a lot caulking to many areas. And that, in itself is a drawback!! Caulking will breakdown and degrade overtime. Which is just setting you up for a whole host of problems. The temperature swings we see through our crazy Alberta winters, only compounds the issue with expansion & contraction. With this system it is not a matter of “if” but “when” are your corners going to leak in the future.

45 Degree Cuts with a Miter Saw: Another way to do gutter corners is to cut the trough run on a chop saw. This style is most pleasing to look at as it makes the corners look neat and tidy. The problem we have found with this type of corner is that it works best on a “perfect” 90 degree corner. If the corner is not a “perfect” 90 degrees you will often see the corner pull apart.

A corner created like this, has hand hewed tabs folded on the inside of the corner. Screws are then added to the face of the corner to hold the two smooth cut pieces together. When caulking these corners, it is crucial to apply enough caulking on to the tabs so there is no air space that could potentially cause leaks in the future.

Hand Hewed tabs on the Outside, with a 45 degree Miter on a chop saw: Here at Viklund Contracting this is our preferred method for installing Inside/Outside corners. The process is the same as above, however we don’t need to struggle with a corner if it is not a “Perfect” 90 degrees. Instead we employ the hand hewed tabs on the outside of the corner. This holds & squeezes the corner seam together. By doing this, we use the tabs to fold & lock tightly around the corner … minimizing the effects of expansion & contraction. With this method, little to no screws are used to hold the corner together thus performing a leak free job for many years to come.

Eavestrough or Gutter corner
Seamless Gutters

C) What temperature can gutters be installed at?
Most materials are subject to thermal expansion – a tendency to expand when heated and to contract when cooled.

Aluminum, like most other materials is not immune to this.   In fact, aluminum can expand or contract 13.1 micro inches per linear foot for each 1 degree change in temperature. To put that in perspective, a 50 ft run of aluminum gutter that is subject to a 30 degree change in temperature (lets be real ….who hasn’t seen that here in Alberta when a Chinook Wind rolls in?) could expand or contract just over 3/8″ of an inch!

It is also important to note that the wood material used for the fascia boards can expand or contract even more than the aluminum material itself.
This cycle of expansion & contraction has been known to cause buckling of gutter materials.

To help us install a successful run of eaves troughs, we use a gutter machine that is equipped with a dual seamer at the bottom of the extruder. These two rollers press a seam or crease into the aluminum material as it is rolled out. This not only adds stability to the eave trough, but is also helps minimize the amount of movement from expansion & contraction.

According to the industry, it is best to install new seamless gutters at temperatures between 15 – 30 degrees Celsius.

If you are looking for new Seamless Gutters, feel free to give me a call and ask as many questions as you like.

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