This project is continued from How to Install Bullnose Rain Gutter Covers – Part 2.
The bullnose style gutter covers work by wicking rain water into the gutter while tree debris falls over the side, keeping the gutter clean. However, gutter covers can’t make up for an poorly installed gutters that are uneven and lacking sufficient pitch, or slope, to drain properly.
How to Slope a Gutter
The 27 foot length of gutter on this side of the house needed a major tuneup because the head-end frequently overflowed during heavy rain and had standing water. I decided to adjust the gutter pitch to eliminate the standing water problem. A carpenter’s level is far too short for leveling a gutter, so I used a chalk line and string bubble level (a laser level could also work):
Gutter Position on the Fascia Board
Starting at the head-end of the gutter (i.e. upstream or opposite end from the downspout) I verified that the top of the gutter was at 1/4″ below the top edge of the fascia board. If the gutter were to overflow I didn’t want the water to spill over the fascia board into the soffit. The gutter head-end was OK in this respect.
Snap a Chalk Line for the Gutter Pitch (Slope)
I set a finishing nail even with the bottom of the gutter at the head-end and snapped a chalk line on the fascia board with an extra 3/4″ drop at the far end by the downspout to guarantee there would be no standing water:
Here’s the other end of the gutter and chalk line by the downspout:
The chalk line identified why the gutter head-end had standing water: The gutter bowed upward about 1/2″ near the middle! Another example of sloppy work by the home builder. The gutter installer must’ve just eye-balled the gutter and hung it following the top of the fascia board.
To re-pitch the gutter, I removed all of the gutter spikes except the spike at the head-end:
The gutter is now supported only by two gutter nails at the head-end and downspout. Gutters are light and rigid so the gutter was in no danger of buckling or tearing loose. Of course the gutter must be empty of water.
This photo is looking toward the downspout end. The satellite TV cables are lying in the gutter. Notice the yellow lines pointing out the gap between the fascia board and gutter now that the gutter is hanging loose.
Cleaning the Gutter
A 3″ putty knife fit the bottom of the gutter perfectly to scrape out the debris. Part of the problem is the heavy tree pollen that forms a gooey cement every spring especially in semi-standing water. You can see the yellowish tree pollen build-up on the gutter sidewalls:
I scraped the bottom and sides clean with the putty knife. It was quite a mess of small seeds and bits that made it past the flip-up gutter screens.
Reslope and Fasten the Gutter
The gutter was easy to reattach with gutter screws driven into the rafter tails while being careful to align the bottom with the chalk line. I used gutter screws instead of the smooth spikes because of the superior holding power of screws. I also caulked the holes in the fascia board where the spikes were removed to prevent wood rot:
Top view of the gutter after cleaning and rehanging along the chalk line for improved drainage:
Starting by downspout, I installed the bullnose metal gutter covers. I also zip-tied the satellite TV cables together, first in a bundle and secondly with a zip-tie to the gutter hangers to hold the cables off the gutter bottom where it would obstruct the water flow:
I cut a notch in the metal gutter cover for the satellite TV cable to reach the antenna dish:
Professional or Do-It-Yourself Gutter Covers?
I learned a lot after installing about 80 feet of gutter covers on the 1st and 2nd story of my house and seeing how the gutter covers performed for over a month.
My lessons-learned are:
1) Bullnose style gutter covers definitely work better than the flip-up screens:
- Tree leaves and small branches that get blown down in thunderstorms just wash over the side.
- On dry days the tree debris just tumbles off.
2) Name-brand Professionally Installed Gutter Covers are Expensive Because…
- Material cost is only part of the equation. The installation cost usually includes labor to adjust and rehang poorly installed gutters.
- Performance guarantee that your gutters won’t need cleaning.
- Better product design, e.g. fitted screens for inside corners, custom end-caps, nose forward design, seamless appearance, etc.
3) High roofs greatly increase the difficulty of a job.
- I installed the gutter covers while working from the comfort of a two story scaffold that I rented for my soffit repair project. There’s no way I’d do this work on the 2nd story while standing on a ladder.
4) Gloves are necessary on warm sunny days.
- The black aluminum gutter covers get so hot you can’t touch them on a hot sunny day.
At some point in the near future I’ll be hire a professional to install a name-brand gutter cover product for front and high-sides of my house. But for the price these local brand gutter covers are a world of improvement compared to the flip-up screens.