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Tell me everything about gutters  RSS feed

 
Will Holland
Posts: 300
Location: CT zone 5b
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My 80-year old house has no gutters, nor do any of my neighbors have gutters. The neighbors told me "nahh, you don't want gutters, then you'd have to clean 'em" or "just put in perforated pipe around the foundation." We've got multiple problems with water like tons of exterior rot where water sheets off the roof and comes directly in contact with the house, basement infiltration, erosion around the foundation, and a lot of the foundation needs repointed. Plus, of course, we constantly need water outside for animals and establishing gardens. We made due with some strategically-placed garbage cans for water collection last year, but that caused new problems like the cans tipping over and spilling against exterior walls, overflowing and concentrating puddles against the foundation, and more.

So, I want gutters, right? Now, do I go to my local big box store and do it myself, pay a guy with a truck to do seamless, try to find reclaimed ones, or what? Furthermore, I'd like to add a real-deal cistern of some sort, but that's possibly another concern all together. Lots of folks use heat tape on their gutters here as well, so I don't know if that's something I should consider too. I'm sure there are other things that I don't know or am overlooking and that's why the subject like says "tell me everything about gutters."
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
Posts: 2679
Location: Phoenix, AZ (9b)
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Sounds like you might need some grading fixes around your house too. I've found that over the years, instead of the ground sloping AWAY from the house as originally designed, it tends to slope TOWARDS the house.

I know zippo about your climate so I can't advise you on types of gutters but grading would help many of those issues.

Can you post some pictures?

If you definitely want a cistern in the future, you should plan for that when you put up any gutters - i.e. where are you going to put the cistern, will it be a wet or dry install, how much of the roof will you vent to the cistern, is there a place for first flush, debris filter, etc.
 
Will Holland
Posts: 300
Location: CT zone 5b
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One of the first things I did when we got here was fix some of the grading issues where water pooled up against the foundation and it made a big improvement but definitely wasn't perfect.
 
Bill Bradbury
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Location: Richmond, Utah
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Will,
The problem with gutters is usually a lack of maintenance, but ice dams and snow can also cause issues. Sine they probably won't last, I would go to the metal recycler and buy some used aluminum gutter at scrap prices, install and paint. They usually have spike and ferrules already in them. Cut miters into the gutter in a v shape with tabs to pop rivet them back together. Make sure to use a first flush diverter before storage in a cistern.

 
Will Holland
Posts: 300
Location: CT zone 5b
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Right, thanks Bill. I guess ice dams/ winter problems are my concern with shelling out for seamless, plus I don't trust others' work. I like the idea of checking the scrapyard- hadn't thought of that!
 
Roy Hinkley
Posts: 264
Location: S. Ontario Canada
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Water around your foundation is nothing but an expensive disaster waiting to happen. It will be hidden from view until too late. Get that land grading up the priority list.

12 foot lengths of trough at the box store are cheap in either plastic or steel. Plastic corners and fittings add up fast. I went with painted steel joined with rivets and sealant with an eye to water flow direction, start at the lowest point and overlap the higher one on the lower.
Of course you always need a good slope.
Use screw in cast metal brackets instead of the old nail and ferrule type. Much stronger and they never work their way out. If you have trees that will drop leaves on the roof go with the metal gutter covers. They seem expensive but they really aren't when you figure out the per foot coverage, in my case it's been money well spent.

Ice dams are from lack of attic insulation/ventilation. Heat leaking from your living space to the attic warms the roof to the point where snow is melting, water flows down and freezes when it reaches the overhanging portion and you begin an ice dam. Fix that first.
Fully vented soffits combined with enough roof vents, (continuous ridge vent is best) will keep the heat from starting the process. Once the heat is already lost from your living space you have to get it out of the attic as quickly as possible.
Too many people have converted their attic to a loft without any consideration of venting the heat out from under the roof sheathing.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3351
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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The gutter guard, gutter helmet things that keep leaves out also keep ice dams from ripping them down most of the time. Ice can still build up inside and cause problems, so you have to watch for that. Choosing dark colored gutters and downspout helps with that.
 
Bill Bradbury
pollinator
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Location: Richmond, Utah
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There is only one reason to have gutters at all; rainwater collection. If you are not going to collect it, then why concentrate the water where it can cause issues?

I don't have any gutters on my own home, I capture the runoff and let it infiltrate in big raised beds around the house with proper grade and lots of plants. I don't have any concrete that isn't smashed up like flagstones to concentrate water either.

On the restoration project that we are currently working on, we have gutters to catch rainwater and feed the pond. but they are not hung, they rest on joist extensions and are part of the roof, so they don't have hanger bars etc. and they can't be torn off. We get a lot of snow sometimes.
I included a photo of the integrated gutters system, but I don't know how to rotate it, sorry.
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Will Holland
Posts: 300
Location: CT zone 5b
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on the topic of insulation/ ventilation-

My attic is a complete and total mystery. There is no attic access from inside the house, and I have no idea if or how it is insulated. Furthermore, there's no soffit ventilation, ridge vent, or anything else. Here's a photo I just took of the overhanging eave on the front of the house. The back side of the house is the same.



and here are a few more shots:



here you can see ice running down the side of the house. the moisture definitely soaks into the siding, freezes, and warps everything:


and this is what happened to all my window sills:

 
Will Holland
Posts: 300
Location: CT zone 5b
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so, this is where I don't know how to proceed. Not having gutters is definitely fucking my house up, but I don't know if I could possibly makes things worse i.e. ice dams ripping the gutters off/ destroying my roof without addressing the pandora's box of my attic.
 
Bill Bradbury
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Location: Richmond, Utah
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Will Holland wrote:so, this is where I don't know how to proceed. Not having gutters is definitely fucking my house up, but I don't know if I could possibly makes things worse i.e. ice dams ripping the gutters off/ destroying my roof without addressing the pandora's box of my attic.

Well, you're in luck Will, 'cause this is my specialty, fixing the mistakes of other builders.

Not having gutters is not the problem.

The problems that I see are; too short eaves, latex paint(doesn't allow your home to breathe), lack of air sealing and insulation in your attic/ceiling and improper detailing of the roof flashings

There's nothing here that you can not do yourself, but it won't be easy or clean!

Since it is winter, I would proceed with the attic/ceiling work first. Post more pictures of your ceiling and I can direct your work if you would like to tackle this yourself.

You have a great house there, it has been f'ed up by poor workmanship and a lack of proper building knowledge. This is unfortunately the norm.
 
Will Holland
Posts: 300
Location: CT zone 5b
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I'll post pictures of my ceiling when I get home.

Many things about my house are a mystery. It was built by a 19 - year-old in 1935, and he lived in the house until he died at 96, and then we bought it. We've cleaned up a lot of weird things in the last 6 months, but we continue to be puzzled by others. Not a day goes by that I don't wish Ted was still alive so I could ask him wtf he did when he built or fixed something in this house.

He reportedly had quite the farmstead in his lifetime, and it was sold off piece by piece over the years. He must have been quite the character because lots of people around town knew him and speak well of him. Lots of folks are really excited that we're "doing something" with the property.
 
Roy Hinkley
Posts: 264
Location: S. Ontario Canada
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Yup, you need to fix the icicle problem first - it's exactly as I described above - no ventilation.

You can always make an attic access hatch in a closet. I'm sure you'll find poor insulation up there (must be hot as hell in the summer with all that trapped heat).
Ventilate the attic - you need cool air in- hot air out. Probably been lots of moisture up there too, fingers crossed no mold problems.
Good luck...
 
Will Holland
Posts: 300
Location: CT zone 5b
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Well, it's been a while since I updated this thread, but here are some pictures of the ceiling upstairs.
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Steven Kovacs
Posts: 226
Location: Western Massachusetts (USDA zone 5a, heating zone 5, 40"+)
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In MA, we have a state program called Mass Save that helps homeowners with free energy (and ventilation) audits, and discounted insulation and ventilation installation. If CT has anything similar, give them a call and see what they say about your attic ventilation and insulation - they may be able to help.

Your eaves are definitely too short to go without gutters. Extending the eaves will likely be more expensive than adding gutters, but it still might be worth doing. Wide eaves without gutters should be easier to maintain than gutters in the long run. If you replace the roof, that would be a good time to extend the eaves. Extended eaves could also help shade your windows in the summer, if they go out far enough.
 
William Bronson
Posts: 1450
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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forest garden trees urban
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Hey, what if instead of building out the eves you built a covered pavilion right under the eves?
The water would come off the roof of the house and onto the roof of the pavilion, and be redirected to the edge of the pavilion roof.
Under that edge you could dig a ditch , filled mostly with gravel or crushed limestone, topped with soil or mulch and sloped to deliver the water were ever you desire.
 
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