With all that’s going on at this time of the year, from preparing for the holidays or dealing with the mess left by Hurricane Sandy, it’s easy to overlook your gutters.
But between the heavy winds of recent storms and the inevitable falling leaves of autumn, now’s the time to make sure your gutters are doing their job of channeling the rain pouring off the roof and directing it away from a home’s foundation and basement.
Although cleaning gutters is not the most pleasant of tasks, experts recommend doing it two to three times per year.
Without protective covers, gutters “need to be flushed out. Pulling debris out isn’t enough,” says Richard Duda, who owns Duda’s Quality Gutters, or D.Q.G., on the East End. Mr. Duda said that mud and granules of roofing can clog gutters, even if you put a protective shield over the top to keep the leaves out.
“There’s nothing out there that’s maintenance-free,” he said in an interview last week. Even with protective covers, gutters “still need to be hosed off once in a couple years.”
Mr. Duda installs Leaf Solution gutter covers, a fine aluminum mesh that keeps debris out but still lets water in.
Bob Tuholski of Long Island Gutter Solutions in Riverhead swears by a gutter protector he’s been installing all over Long Island since 1995.
His Waterloov gutter cover, available in many colors, fits over standard five-inch aluminum gutters, which are used in most conventional gutter installations.
“The cover slides under the shingles so there are no nails or screws on the roofline,” said Mr. Tuholski. “It’s a permanent installation. I wrote the warranty in 1995. If the gutters ever clog while people own the house, I’ll come out and fix it for free. I haven’t been doing that job, because it stays clean forever.”
Mr. Tuholski said his company’s exclusive focus on gutters, along with the Waterloov gutter guards, have made them experts on how water behaves when it hits a house and how to keep it from causing damage.
“A gutter system is vitally important to the homeowner. If not installed right, the water will seek its own level,” he said. “A conventional seamless five-inch gutter is appropriate for all roof conditions and will accommodate any roof pitch.”
He said the Waterloov won’t work with expensive half-round gutters, often made of copper or other decorative metal, which he said are much more popular on the South Fork than on the North Fork.
“You have to physically maintain the half-rounds,” he said. “People put it on their house because they feel it’s a more attractive-looking gutter. Some architects will suggest that.”
Mr. Duda and other local gutter contractors said they’ve been very busy with repairs since superstorm Sandy.
He said that for more than 30 years, most gutters have been made of seamless, five-inch aluminum, making replacement of small sections of existing gutters a relatively straightforward task.
“They’re extruded out of a machine,” he said. “They’ve been extruding the same type of gutter for 30-plus years.”
In addition to repairing gutters torn from houses in the storm, a common problem residents face is gutters that have been undermined to the point that they’re not sitting at the right pitch, making proper drainage difficult.
“You’ll actually see gutters sagging in the middle, or dark stains on one area of the gutter,” he said, adding that the solutions to pitch problems vary widely depending on where the gutters were installed.
Mr. Duda also does high-end copper gutter work, which is more than triple the price of aluminum but is sometimes the perfect fit for a specific house.
A little more than a year ago, a crew of thieves went around the South Fork stealing copper gutters, which bring a hefty price when sold for scrap, said Mr. Duda, but they were later caught by police.
Contractors have begun to solder copper gutters and strap and bolt them more securely to houses to make them nearly impossible to steal.
“People like the look of it,” he said. “A gutter on a house is like a frame around a nice painting. Certain gutters enhance the house more.”