Living Smart: How to know if gutters need work or replacement

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

If your gutters are starting to fail and you arenít sure whether to repair them or just replace them with new gutters, here are answers from three Dallas gutter experts to help you make the best decision.

How often should I clean my gutters?

Mike Long, manager at Frazier Roofing & Guttering Co. in Arlington, Tex.: It should be more than once a year.

Jason Phillips, owner of Phillips Painting, Roofing & Gutters in Plano, Tex.: Annually, at a minimum. If you have a lot of trees, several times a year.

Jerry Powell, owner of All-Techís Installations in North Richland Hills, Tex.: At the minimum, they need to be checked and cleaned in the spring and fall.

What are the signs I need to repair or replace my gutters?

Long: Look for leaks in corners, staining from water or overflow, or rust in steel gutters. They should hang level, so if your gutters are turning down more toward the front, something needs to be done.

Phillips: With galvanized steel gutters, youíll start seeing rust. If the gutters arenít secured well, theyíll start sagging. Also, look for gutter joints pulling apart or overflowing during rain.

Powell: If you see water coming out from behind the gutter, thereís something wrong.

Do you recommend gutter guards, screens or covers?

Long: Screens donít work as well because of the fuzzies from oak trees in the spring. Gutter hoods are expensive, but they make your gutters zero to little maintenance.

Phillips: There are several different types, and we recommend the one thatís right for your situation.

Powell: We recommend using steel powder-coated mesh guards.

How long will new gutters last?

Long: If you maintain aluminum gutters, they can last almost forever. Clean them, re-secure the fasteners and reseal the corners and end caps.

Phillips: We use stainless aluminum, and the materials come with a lifetime warranty. Keep them cleaned out, put leaf guards on, and get them adjusted from time to time.

Powell: Aluminum gutters should last a lifetime. Just keep them clean and sometimes, because of settling of the house, they may need to be raised or lowered.