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How Long Do Gutters Last? Key Factors Roofers Should Know 

As a professional roofer, you know that gutters are a major part of roof protection. But how long do gutters last? That depends on multiple factors, including their composition. 

At some point, you may face questions from your customers about their gutter system. Understanding the finer points allows you to educate them properly and potentially lead to increased sales.  

Learn which types of gutters last the longest and how to extend the lifespan of a gutter system. You should also know how to spot the signs of gutters that need replacement. With this essential information, you can be a better resource to your homeowner clients as a roofing professional. 

What’s the Importance of Gutters in Roof Maintenance? 

Gutters are an essential part of home protection for most structures. In addition to protecting the house’s siding and foundation, they safeguard the roof. 

The gutters primarily prevent damage from rainwater. They are installed behind the roof’s flashing and in front of the fascia to create a continuous surface rather than allowing for small crevices where water can seep in.  

Rain gutters collect precipitation and channel it via downspouts to a desired location. This might be a garden or catch basin. Channeling the water away from the home also prevents water from collecting around the foundation. This helps prevent flooding and erosion of the soil around the structure. 

Even during snowy winters, gutters can protect the roof. With nearly six million square miles in North America experiencing snow as late as March 2024, this can’t be overlooked. 

They reduce the formation of ice dams caused by snow melting on the roof and running downward. Ice dams can otherwise result in damage to the bottom of the roof and to the inside of the home when water makes its way inside. 

Therefore, gutter maintenance is essential to ensure they function properly. When gutters are kept in good shape, the roof’s longevity is extended. Of course, this is desirable for property owners who want to avoid investing thousands in a roof before it’s necessary. 

Gutter maintenance involves keeping them clean and free of debris, like leaves and trash. It also entails making sure they’re fastened properly and have no leaks. Worn gutters with holes in them defeat their purpose entirely. 

Gutters today are made to last for many years. However, there are several misconceptions about gutters that both property owners and roofers should understand. 

Misconception #1: Gutters Last Forever. 

It’s true that gutter material and design have increased their durability. However, they’re not meant to last eternally, even with proper maintenance (see below). 

Most gutters today last between 10 and 30 years, depending on their fabrication. Some can even endure for 50 years or a century. We’ll discuss that in more detail in the next section. 

Misconception #2: Gutters Are Self-Maintaining. 

Thinking that gutters maintain themselves is like believing you never need to clean the lint trap in your dryer. 

While gutters can be installed to minimize maintenance, some care will be needed periodically. 

Misconception #3: You Only Need Gutters if You Live in a Heavy Rain Climate. 

Even a few rainstorms a year can ruin a roof without gutters. So even homes in locales with minimal rainfall, like desert areas, need them. 

It’s also worth noting that weather patterns are changing in the United States and Canada. Places that used to be drier are experiencing more rain. 

Misconception #4: Gutter Maintenance and Installation Is an Easy DIY Job. 

Many property owners mistakenly think at first that gutter work is something they can do on their own. They quickly discover that it takes both time and experience—something they lack. 

This usually leads to delayed maintenance and, ultimately, gutter replacement. Do you see gutters that are obviously neglected? It’s often because the property owner overestimated their skills and then forgot about the issue altogether. 

Misconception #5: All Gutters Are Basically the Same. 

As you’ll read below, the design and materials used in gutter manufacturing greatly affect their function and durability. 

Roofers should encourage homeowners to purchase the best gutters their budget will allow if they intend to remain in the home long-term. They should think of gutters as an investment, like a quality roof. 

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What Key Factors Affect a Gutter’s Lifespan? 

There are a few factors that give gutters a longer lifespan. As a roofer, it’s important to know what they are so you can make the best recommendations for your clients. 

Most homeowners will want gutters that cost a bit more but last the longest, assuming they intend to stay in the home. However, if a client is planning to list a property, they will likely choose something less costly and, therefore, less durable. 

Although having no gutters can hurt a home’s value, the type of gutter doesn’t usually increase its appraisal accordingly. Curb appeal is usually the biggest concern in this scenario. 

What factors increase or decrease a gutter’s longevity? First is maintenance. Taking care of them is the biggest contributor to lifespan. We’ll discuss that more later on. 

Second, the home’s location and weather-related issues also affect gutter lifespan. Not surprisingly, homes in rainy and/or snowy locations can see more wear on their gutters. 

Third, the construction of the gutter can influence its longevity, too. Better-quality gutters generally last longer. Newer seamless gutters are outdoing their seamed counterparts these days. It makes sense, as there are fewer joints to worry about. 

The proper use of downspouts is a fourth factor. These must be combined with gutters to transport water away from the home. Appropriate attachment and placement influence the gutter’s performance. 

Last but not least, gutter material should be considered. Here’s a list of common materials used in making gutters and how long they usually last: 

  • Vinyl (10–15 years) 
  • Galvanized stainless steel (15–20 years) 
  • Aluminum (25 years) 
  • Wood (20–50 years) 
  • Zinc (50 years) 
  • Cast iron (50 years) 
  • Stainless steel (50 years) 
  • Copper (100 years) 

RELATED ARTICLE: How Long Do Metal Roofs Last? Everything Roofers Need to Know 

What Are Signs of Deteriorating Gutters? 

Gutters should be repaired or replaced as soon as a problem crops up. Otherwise, the property could rapidly be damaged by rainwater or melting snow. 

Roof damage and interior water infiltration pose an enormous headache for the property owner. Not only do they have to deal with structural repairs and painting, but they may also lose belongings. Furthermore, leaking water can be a breeding ground for mold and mildew that affect occupant health. 

Normally, homeowner insurance covers roof and water damage. However, what if it is deemed that the property owner was knowingly negligent and failed to fix deteriorating gutters? Their claim may be denied, resulting in them paying out of pocket for reparations. 

Here are some signs of failing gutters that roofers should recognize. And they should pass these symptoms on to homeowners as well: 

  • Visible rust on the gutters or downspouts 
  • Holes or cracks in the gutters 
  • Water leaking from or overflowing from gutters 
  • Gutters sagging or separating, with parts on the ground 
  • Sight or smell of mold or mildew inside or out 
  • Peeling paint or warped siding on the structure 
  • Loose roofing material or fascia at the roofline 
  • Water stains on the exterior or interior of the home 

In some cases, the signs above may be attributed to poor gutter maintenance. It’s essential to get up on a ladder and check, though, to find out if they are beyond cleaning. They may need repair or replacement. 

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Routine Gutter Maintenance Practices 

The best way for property owners to avoid costly repairs or replacements is to maintain their existing gutters. Here are some best practices roofing professionals can use and recommend to homeowners. They will help extend the lifespan of any gutter system. 

Deep Clean Gutters Semiannually. 

Gutters should be cleaned by an expert at least twice per year. This may need to be done more often if the property is in a location that sees frequent severe weather. Also, gutters on a plot with many trees will likely need to be cleaned more often. 

Check Gutters After Major Storms. 

Storms with heavy winds can cause gutters to be clogged with leaves, sticks, and other debris. Even if a homeowner does a thorough gutter cleaning in spring and fall, checking after a severe weather event is smart. 

Evaluate Gutters and Roof Following an Ice Damming Incident. 

If a homeowner experiences ice damming, they should check their gutter integrity as soon as safely possible afterward. Better yet, they should call a professional. The gutters could be loose from ice movement and pressure. 

Additionally, the cause of the ice dam should be assessed. Usually, this is due to poorly insulated and ventilated attic spaces or upper floors. It causes heat from the home to melt the snow, which runs down the roof and refreezes at the gutter line, forming a dam. 

Apply Gutter Guards for Protection. 

Gutter clogging can be minimized with gutter guards. Various systems are available, like mesh covers, to keep leaves and detritus out of gutters. 

Clogged gutters not only prevent them from working properly, but they also allow water and wet plant material to sit for long periods. This contributes to the erosion of the gutter material. 

Use Gutter Sealant Every 5 to 10 Years. 

There are sealants on the market that help improve the durability of gutter material. This can be applied and reapplied every 5 to 10 years to extend the system’s longevity. 

Property owners can apply sealant even more often in areas with heavy rainfall or storms. 

Keep Gutter Cleaning Tools in Tip-Top Shape. 

If you’re a roofer who performs gutter cleaning, you need your tools to be as efficient as possible. These include: 

  • Ladders 
  • Rakes and wands 
  • Brushes 
  • Scrapers 
  • Blowers 
  • Hoses 
  • Pressure washers 

Keep them well-maintained and clean so they are at your disposal when needed. You never know when a client may call needing help with a gutter problem. 

Key Gutter Longevity Takeaways for Roofers 

Ready to help clients with their gutter concerns as part of your roofing business? That’s smart, as homeowners will like the one-stop shopping aspect of roof care. Here are some tips you can use today to improve customer service in this area: 

  • Understand the weather concerns for your unique location and how they affect gutters. Which type of gutters last the longest where you live? 
  • When a client asks for gutter installation, inquire about their goals. Are they looking for long-term solutions or short-term aesthetics before selling? Do they need to match the features of a historic home? Is the budget a worry? 
  • Think seriously about adding gutter maintenance to your list of services. This will help all your clients get the most from their gutters while protecting their roofs. 
  • If you’re not able to do gutter work, be sure to have a subcontractor or colleague who you can refer to clients. Your recommendation will carry more weight, and you’ll know your roofing work will get the protection it deserves. 
  • Keep a chart of gutter materials, pricing, and availability handy. Be ready to provide estimates on things like installation costs. Using home services software for roofers will help you prepare estimates quickly.  

To facilitate accurate pricing and materials, RoofSnap provides a remote aerial gutter measurement solution that takes the work out of the process. Contractors can try it for 7-days for free and get their first measurement report free, too!  

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