Oct 3, 2022

4 Mistakes To Avoid When You Install A Gutter

Tim Shepel
Greater Seattle Gutters rated 5/5 based on 17 reviews.

Unless there’s a bill or ordinance that recently became law in your place, no one requires your home to have a rain gutter. But climate change equals heavier rains and stronger storms, so it may as well need one. Your home will thank you for helping it get through downpours that are more than just cats and dogs.

But your home won’t thank you for runoff getting clogged or not going down the downspout. If the gutter breaks off and collapses in the middle of a storm, that’s another demerit. These signs (and more) indicate that something went wrong with your attempt to install a gutter. So, before said signs manifest, steer clear of these mistakes.

1. Not having the right gear

gutter tools and equipment

Assuming you’re a do-it-yourself (DIY) person, gathering the right gear and having it within arm’s reach is essential. Tools include (but aren’t limited to) cordless drills, rivet guns, crimpers, and extension ladders. A tool belt is also necessary to hold the handheld equipment.

As for the materials, apart from the gutter itself, the installation entails a lot of screws and rivets. Flashing and sealants can also be helpful, as they can prevent the runoff from spilling where it shouldn’t. Consider getting hanging straps to help keep the gutter in place.

But perhaps the most critical equipment is one that can protect you from a nasty fall. According to the National Safety Council, 76% of medically-consulted injuries in 2020 happened at home. Working several feet above the ground—and with power tools, no less—sets a careless DIY-er for a slew of injuries. A pair of rubber-soled shoes can keep your feet on the ladder.

2. Not properly sloped

Gutters may appear level to the naked eye, but if that’s the case up close, they won’t be able to do their job. Experts install them in a way that they slope low enough for runoff to flow to the downspout while appearing seamless from afar.

The ideal slope or pitch depends on the house’s appearance and the gutter length required. Most resources on how to install a gutter drain recommend a pitch of ¼ inch for every 10 feet, though it can be as much as ½ inch. For gutter lengths of over 40 feet, some redesign may be necessary.

Sometimes, the only way to see if the gutter has an improper slope is when it’s already up. Check the gutter hours after a downpour; if there’s still plenty of rainwater, the installation might have gotten the slope wrong. The weight of the pooled runoff places the gutter at risk of breaking off, damaging both the gutter and parts of the roofing.

3. Skimping on the material

copper gutter

At around USD$7 to USD$22 per linear foot, gutters are among the most expensive investments homes can buy. However, if you consider their role beyond channeling runoff safely down to the ground, gutters are less costly than replacing damaged roofing or repairing water damage. As such, it’s crucial to use the right materials.

Wood was the material of choice for gutters for several decades. However, being hard to remove and vulnerable to rotting, they were phased out in favor of metal gutters around the 1960s. Some of the materials used for fabricating gutters today include:

  • Aluminum – lightweight and DIY-friendly plus a popular choice among households but can bend, especially the thinner ones
  • Vinyl – same benefits as aluminum with the addition of resistance from salt corrosion but can turn brittle under extreme temperatures
  • Zinc – has double the lifespan of aluminum and resistance to warping but can be costly and not recommended for DIY
  • Steel – all-weather resistance and resilience against damage but requires a sizeable crew to install due to its weight
  • Copper – ideal for households trying to achieve an old-fashioned look with the benefits of steel but are expensive and not recommended for DIY

4. Too many seams

In spite of what you may have read or heard, there’s no such thing as a true seamless gutter (more on this below). Gutters run along the eaves, which means they have to turn when the eaves tell them to. Many households remedy this by installing gutters every 10 inches and applying good sealant at the seams.

However, this approach produces too many seams, resulting in a maintenance nightmare. The seamless gutters in the market still have seams but not as many as the 10-inch approach.


After reading this, you may ask yourself: “Is it hard to install gutters?” The answer depends on how much you know about the process. Mistakes like these won’t make even the sturdiest and long-lasting gutters last long. If you aren’t too skilled at DIY, it’s better to leave it to the pros.