Gutters don't look very impressive, but they're about as important as the roof over your head. Most basement water problems are really gutter and downspout problems. In fact, leaky, overflowing gutters can buckle basement walls in just a few years, so it pays to keep your system working properly. When the time comes to replace your gutters, you'll have tow major options: professionally installed, seamless aluminum gutters and do-it-yourself steel or aluminum systems available at the retail level.
Seamless aluminum gutters are attractive and can last a long time, but they're expensive. Eo-it-yourself components are more affordable, and the quality is really quite good. When installed and sealed correctly, they'll last as long as seamless gutters. Steel components, which dominate the retail market, are usually zinc coated and painted, inside and out, Galvanized, unpainted gutters are also available, as are plastic and aluminum systems, though aluminum can be hard to find in home centers. To prevent corrosion, avoid combining steel and aluminum.
Prices will vary with the house and the market, of course, but a comparison we made points to real savings. For a basic 1960s 24x40-ft ranch with a hip roof, our contractor's estimate was $670, which included removal of the old gutters. In contrast, home center prices for the steel components to handle the same job come in just under $200. [Editor's Note: these price estimates were accurate c. 2001.]
This project was originally published in the March 2001 issue of Popular Mechanics
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