How to Install Eavestrough?

The subject of how to Install eavestrough or “gutters”, as they are often referred to in different regions of Canada, is a question that is brought up frequently by clients who are in the market for replacement or repairs.

The first thing to understand is what the intended purpose of eavestroughs are. While many can easily guess, it is surprising how many people are not aware of the vital role that eavestroughs play in keeping their home safe from water ingress. Simply put; eavestroughs are designed to carry shedding rainwater and meltwater away from the roof and to direct that water volume to the ground, and ultimately away from the foundation of the building.

The next thing to understand is what type of eavestroughs a home or building owner may have.

There are several types and styles, made from varying materials; usually fabricated from some form of metal.

In Canada; the most commonly used type of eavestrough is extruded from aluminum; through a machine, which takes flat stock aluminum coil, and roll forms that material into a profile referred to as “K” style. The advantages of aluminum eavestrough include the fact that they are light to install, and are available in a myriad of colour options (having a baked-on paint finish form the manufacturing mill). Perhaps their greatest advantage is that the eavestrough may be formed to virtually any seamless length, commensurate with the length of the flat stock coil.

Stronger gauge versions of aluminum eavestrough include products such as RAINPRO™ gutters, manufactured by Englert®. These gutters provide the contemporary look of a 5” capacity gutter, but actually shed the volume of a larger 6” gutter. The gutter appears more square in design, lending itself well to both traditional, modern and contemporary architecture.

From a cost perspective; aluminum eavestrough systems tend to be the most cost-effective for the average home.

More traditional types of eavestroughs, dating back over a century, and before the use of aluminum was popularized in the mid to late sixties; are eavestroughs fabricated from copper, leaded copper, or galvanized steel. The most common profile for such gutters were referred to as the “Ogee” style; taking its namesake from wood mouldings having a similar design profile. Other profiles include half-round style and “K” styles.

Related Content: Preventative Steps to Better Protect the Gutters on Your Home

These types of gutters involving “architectural” metals; are soldered using lead or brass solder. The expertise involved to complete such work, and the commodity costs of such premium metals, results in higher production costs for such eavestrough installations.

The investment in quality for such eavestrough installation results in value over time as copper, for example, can last at least fifty years. Many heritage or architecturally significant properties require the use of higher-grade eavestrough systems.

Yet another form of custom eavestrough installation involves the use of pre-painted galvanized steel.

Such gutters are often hand formed into specific profiles, and some can be extruded into more conventional profiles. Such gutters offer the advantage of having a baked on factory paint finish, but their primary purpose is to provide enhanced strength. Commercial buildings and churches are examples of where such an eavestrough installation may be well suited.

Some homes have what are termed “in-laid” gutters. Essentially a custom metal gutter is fabricated to be inset behind a wooden facade, for which; is incorporated into the home’s roofline. The finished appearance can trick the eye into believing there are no gutters present. Other design variations can be found in modern homes, where a linear profile for the exterior fascia area suits the architecture.

Such eavestrough installations are usually installed using copper or galvanized steel, with adjoining sections being soldered together.

A do it yourself type of eavestrough system can be found in some home improvement retailers. PVC ( plastic) comes in pre-formed lengths and can be glued together using associated adhesive. Such gutters are not sold by professionals because they are prone to leaking, cracking, or bending over time.  Some amateurs may find a purpose for such gutters on garden sheds or less critical structures.

There are some basic concepts that need to be considered when undertaking an eavestrough installation.

Gutters should be installed to effect positive drainage toward the downpipes.

As a general rule of thumb; the amount in terms of footage of downpipe required is equivalent to about have the linear footage of gutters being installed. Additional downpipe may be required to lead water away from foundation walls, generally about five feet.

Downpipes should be of sufficient size to handle the volume of shedding water. As an example; a large steep sloping roof may require more or larger capacity downpipes to combat the volume of water produced during heavy rainfall.

Eavestrough needs to be properly secured. Most aluminum gutters utilize hidden brackets, which should be spaced two to three feet apart as a maximum span. The wood fascia boards behind the gutter should be sound and free from rot; prior to installing new guttering.

Corner joints of gutters should be mitered to form one clean seam. The metal is strategically cut in a prescribed pattern in order that the opposing trough section, can fit securely into the opposite section. Corner joints are best secured using screws when discussing seamless aluminum gutters. A special gutter sealant is liberally applied over corner joints, and where outlets are located in the gutter.

Outlets protrude through the gutter at locations where the downpipes are to be located and serve as the point where downpipes may be attached immediately beneath the gutter. Downpipes are then secured to surface walls of the home or building using pipe straps, spaced at strategic intervals.

When installing eavestrough systems; the gutter installers will place two elbows and a length of extension pipe, to transition the downpipe from immediately beneath the gutter, back to the wall.

At the base of the downpipes nearing ground level; an additional elbow is installed to transition the vertical wall pipes to drain into a “leader “pipe section. The leader pipe sheds water well away from the foundation wall into the garden or lawn areas.

In some instances; downpipes are directed into in-ground drains which ultimately lead to City storm drains.

In Toronto, a bylaw requires that where possible; homeowners are to avoid directing the water into the storm sewer system. Due to some home locations, and close proximity to neighbouring properties; an exemption may be applied. To learn more; residents may call 311, or visit the City of Toronto Website, following prompts to the applicable department.

When hiring an eavestrough installation contractor; it is required by law that home and property owners exercise proper due diligence in verifying that the contractor demonstrates proof of WSIB  coverage in current standing, and proof of fall arrest training, in compliance with MOL regulations; for all workers at heights on the project site. It is also important to verify proper general liability insurance covering such work. In many cities in Canada; proof of a valid trade license is also required.

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