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Rain Gutters for Your Home: DIY vs. Professional Installation

Rain gutters, for most areas of the country, are a necessity. They collect and carry rain water away from the foundation of your home where running water can cause erosion and leak into the basement or crawlspace, often causing hidden damage and contributing to the growth of unhealthy mold. Water running off your roof can cause unsightly mud and debris to be splashed onto the siding of your home, resulting in an untidy look at the least and permanent staining and damage in the extreme. We’ve even seen where improperly installed or deteriorating rain gutters have caused the water to run down the side of the house and into window tracks, eventually seeping into the walls and rotting the wooden joists under the windows. The damage can be invisible for a long time, until it becomes visibly apparent, at which time you will be replacing more than your rain gutters.

For many of us, rain guttering is not at the top of our list of household projects. We think about rain gutters when they are starting to fall off the house, have been ripped off in storms or have simply rusted off as the nails holding the gutter in place have deteriorated or pulled out of the trim. We may think of them when we think about painting the trim, but how often does that happen? We may not notice the erosion around the foundation or the mud splashed on the siding behind the flowers, but we definitely notice the rain pouring on our head as we enter or exit the front door if the rain gutters are no longer in place.

Remember, running water can do a lot of damage and it really doesn’t take that long to do it. Just look at a hillside where a fire has burned the trees and the vegetation, followed by an inch or two of rain. Look at a construction site where the dirt has been moved and there is no longer greenery or concrete ditches to direct the water. The damage caused by running water is very evident. When you don’t have rain gutters on your home, rivulets (sometimes rivers) of water run in the same place over and over again. It runs off your roof in the same places. It runs along your foundation in the same place. Even snow and early morning frost or dew contributes to the run-off…and to the destruction.

So, now that you know rain gutters are an investment in protecting one of your most valuable assets, your home; the question remains: Do you install them yourself or do you hire a professional?

The cheapest, though definitely not the best solution, is to go to the local big-box hardware store and buy however many feet of vinyl guttering, connectors, hangers, end caps, downspouts, downspout hangers and splash blocks you may need. Oh, and don’t forget the ladder or scaffolding you’ll need, the screws or nails, the caulking and/or adhesives…and the time and energy. Making the decision to install rain gutters yourself should be a well-thought out decision. In terms of cost, you not only have to figure the materials, but figure the amount of time it takes to install, the knowledge and learning curve and the long-term warranty.

You can also install aluminum or steel rain gutters yourself, though the cost will be considerably higher for those materials, and of course, they are heavier and bulkier to work with, meaning you won’t be able to DO-IT-YOURSELF. You’ll need help. Which means you will have to depend upon the help of your wife, your neighbor, your son, a coworker, (or all of the above) who may be just as clueless as you are when it comes to installing rain gutters.  It is also a fact that any DIY gutter system will have seams. Unless you have specialized equipment with which to manufacture seamless rain gutters on site, you will have a seam every 10 to 12-feet, which means there is an opportunity for weakness. A seam means there is a place where water can seep, rust can occur, debris can get caught…the list goes on and on. And besides the warranty on the materials itself, there will be no warranty on workmanship. In fact, if it comes to an insurance claim, the installation of the gutters can be called into question.

There are a number of questions you should ask yourself in order to make an informed decision:

  1. Have I called a professional for a free estimate? (get the facts)
  2. How much money will I save if I install it myself vs. what a professional will cost?
  3. What is the difference in the quality of the materials, ie: seams, weight, warranty?
  4. Will the color be aesthetically pleasing if I buy it myself? (professionals will have a much wider choice of custom colors)
  5. How much is my time worth and how long will it take me?
  6. Do I have people available to help when I need them?
  7. Do I have drills, ladders, scaffolding, caulking guns…? (This list can be extensive and all of it costs)
  8. Will I be using these tools again, or just for this one job?
  9. Do I really have the skills to do this right?
  10. Will it look like a pro did it when the job is done and will it last?

Once you’ve answered all of these questions, honestly and to the best of your ability, you will be able to make a more informed choice about whether to install your rain gutters yourself or to have a professional do it. The question should NOT be whether to install them at all. THAT is a no-brainer if you want to protect the value of your home.

We hope this has given you pause and an opportunity to think. We are regularly contracted to install rain gutters on homes with DIY installed gutters. Some of these rain gutters were only installed in the last few years, when, in fact, rain gutters on your home should last a long, long time, barring of course, Mother Nature’s ability to inflict chaos.

We also know that there are many people out there perfectly capable of installing their own rain gutters and doing a darn good job.

Our question to you: Are you one of those people?

Visit our site:

Give us a call: 260-589-9044

Get the facts first, and then make your decision.

We look forward to meeting you and serving you,

The staff at New Look Exteriors and

Matt Stoll, proprietor

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