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HomeAdvisor's Guide to Hiring a Gutter Contractor

Gutters collect rainwater and are sloped slightly so that the water runs through a downspout, which either empties into a rain barrel for later use, such as gardening, or down into a channel on the ground that directs the water away from the house’s foundation.

In contrast, when gutters fail, it’s easy to notice that the rainwater no longer flows safely away from the home. Instead, the water cascades down the siding, damaging it and enabling mold to grow in the walls. Water can also pool along the foundation and work its way into the basement, promoting more mold growth, damaging beams, and weakening the foundation and all of the surrounding property.

Leaky gutters are not the only problem. Gutters clogged with wet debris can sag and weaken the roof joints until the cumulative weight causes the gutters to fail, fall, and perhaps result in damage or injury.

12 Questions to Ask Your Gutter Contractor

Installing gutters is a task that many people, even Do-It-Yourselfers (DIYs), often leave to the professionals because they already know the basics of how to space the hangers, how to set the slope, and how to seal the joints properly, as well as a host of other details that even the handiest DIY’er would have to look up.

So here are the 12 basic questions that you should ask all contractors that you are talking to about your gutters:

  • Are you licensed and insured? You want to be sure that your contractor has all of the proper licenses with your municipality. You also want to confirm that the contractor has insurance so that you are not liable for any workplace injuries.
  • Do you have references? A good contractor will provide references that you can confirm. You can also read reviews and see the quality of work previously performed.
  • Will this affect my roof’s warranty? This is a straight yes or no answer. If a contractor doesn’t give you a straight answer, then don’t take a chance. In some cases, homeowners have been surprised by a voided roof warranty because the gutter work disturbed the roofline.
  • How long will it take? Most gutter jobs take about a day. Unusually large homes or complex rooflines might take a day or two longer. Also check what the rescheduling policy is in case of bad weather.
  • Can I get that in writing? All contractors should be willing to give you a written estimate. If they don’t, or if they balk, then send them away immediately!
  • What are the terms of payment? It’s not unusual for a contractor to ask for a deposit, which should be about 25% of the total cost. Be wary of deposits higher than 30%, as this may de-incentivize the contractor from getting the job done on time.
  • Who will be supervising? Communication between you and the contractor is essential. You should meet the person who will be supervising to make sure that you can ask any questions or express concerns effectively and that you can both work together.
  • Are you using seamless gutters? Seamless gutters present fewer opportunities for leaks, but they usually cost more than the standard 10-foot sections. Some companies can manufacture seamless gutters right on your property, which is convenient if you have unusual features on your roofline.
  • Do you warranty labor and materials? You shouldn’t have to settle for just the manufacturer’s warranty on the gutters. Hire a contractor who will warranty his or her craftsmanship as well. If they’re not willing to stand by their work, then you shouldn’t be willing to give them your money.
  • Do you install covers as well? Most contractors do install covers and gutter guards as well as gutter systems. However, they are not considered part of a system, so you shouldn’t assume they will be included in your quote. Discuss this extra cost with your contractor.
  • How thick is the aluminum on these aluminum gutters? Most installers use .024” to .027” thick aluminum. While this is fine in most situations, areas with heavy rainfall benefit from thicker aluminum such as .032”, which is the thickest in the industry and can support all that water with minimal worry about sagging from a large volume of water. (Water weighs about 8.5 pounds per gallon.)
  • Are you using subcontractors? Some general contractors (GC) will use subcontractors. If they use the same subcontractors each time, this usually isn’t a problem as the GC knows what to expect in terms of the quality of work. If they use different subcontractors each time, you may have a problem with complaints and who is responsible for the workmanship.

Licensing and Insurance Requirements

While anyone can hang gutters, remember that if you hire a handyman, he is not allowed to charge more than $500.00 per job. You can hire a handyman for some patchwork and basic repairs, but if you’re installing a sizable amount of new gutter or are replacing your system altogether, you’ll need to do it yourself or hire a contractor.

  • A contractor must be licensed to work in your municipality. Different states have different requirements for licensing, so check with your state’s licensing board if you’re not sure.
  • A contractor must carry liability insurance to cover any property damage that may occur during the job. The contractor should also have worker’s comp insurance to cover job-related injuries and health risks.

If a contractor does not have both of these kinds of insurance—don’t take a chance. Find a contractor who does.

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Typical Gutter Jobs and Repairs

No matter if the gutters  are on a humble cottage, a majestic mansion, or a skyscraper downtown, they all serve the same purpose and encounter the same common problems of clogging, leaking, sagging, and pests.


Debris such as leaves and pine needles get blown around and inevitably wind up on your roof. With a little wind or rain, they fall into your gutter where they start to decompose and pack down into a solid sheet of material. Dirt, dust, and the granules from asphalt shingles can also clog your gutters.

Pests can also cause clogs by building nests among the debris in your gutters.

Clogs can cause harm in three ways:

  • A clog can prevent rainwater from getting to the downspout. This backup can damage fascia, shingles, soffits, and the roof. In addition to water damage, it can promote the growth of mold.
  • Clogs can turn into solid bridges that allow rainwater to spill over and soak your foundation. This can weaken the foundation, erode the ground around your foundation (a critical issue, especially if you live on a hill), and contribute to mold growing in your basement or crawlspace and in your walls.
  • During dry weather, debris in your gutters poses a serious fire hazard.

Clogs can be reduced by routinely cleaning your gutters. If you have a lot of trees near your house, you should inspect them every four months and clean them if necessary. If you don’t have trees near your house, you must inspect your gutters every six months or every year. You should always inspect them after a big storm. Gutter guards help reduce clogs by blocking large debris.


Many factors that can cause leaks in your gutters. Corrosion is the biggest factor, followed by falling branches or damage caused by sharp tools. Some leaks are intentional as people drill holes to assist drainage in sagging sections, which is not the way to handle sagging (see below). Leaks should be repaired immediately to avoid the damage that can happen to your foundation or walls if clogged (see above).

Leaks are fairly easy to fix. A tube of roofing cement, a plastic scraper, a wide plastic putty knife, a stiff wire brush, and a patch of metal made of the same material as your gutters are often all that’s needed. You may also need a small pair of tin snips if rust has spread beyond the hole.

  1. Clean out any debris with the putty knife. You can also get a gutter scoop for around $4.00.
  2. Using the wire brush, scrub the area around the leak until it is clean.
  3. If there is rust around the hole, cut it away with the tin snips.
  4. Apply the roofing cement around the hole, feathering it out to flatten any steep parts.
  5. Bend the metal patch to fit the gutter and press it in, sealing the edges with the roofing cement. Remember to feather the edges to allow the water to flow away smoothly.

The patch must be made of the same material as the gutter because metals can react with one another (known as galvanic corrosion). This is what happens when one metal begins eating away at the other, thanks to physical contact and the presence of an electrolyte. Rain, fog, dew, and condensation are such electrolytes. (Sometimes this is mistakenly called electrolytic corrosion, but that process requires an actual electrical charge, such as on docked houseboats with joined electrical power).


When a gutter sags, the rainwater pools in the sagging section. Some people mistakenly “repair” these sags by drilling holes to let the water drain. This defeats the whole purpose of a rain gutter, which is to direct water away from walls and foundations.

Gutters sag is usually due to:

  • Failure of the supports: The fasteners can back out of the wood, or the wood deteriorates and becomes too soft to hold the hardware. Also, the supports can be spaced too far apart to properly support a full gutter.
  • Softened/aged wood: A wooden dowel can be inserted firmly into the hole used by the fastener and the fastener can then be mounted to the new wood. If the wood (usually the fascia) is too soft, then it’s time to replace the wood.

If the fasteners have backed out of the wood, tighten them or replace them with slightly larger fasteners. Wood expands and contracts through cycles of dryness and moisture, so this is not unusual. If the fasteners are fine, you may need to install more hangers to prop up the sagging section. It’s also possible that some hangers are damaged. Replacing hangers usually costs less than $2.00 per piece.


Uncovered gutters are attractive to pests looking for food or setting up house. Built-up debris provides the shelter and camouflage that are so desirable in the wild.

  • Squirrels find gutters to be a veritable hardware store when it comes to building nests, and if no suitable trees are nearby, a gutter will do just fine!
  • Mice and rats don’t hibernate, but they do look for winter nests to protect themselves from the elements. Like the squirrels, they find gutters very attractive for this purpose.
  • Spiders are often attracted to the darkness and moisture of the gutters. Other insects that move into the debris are often a great food source for spiders. Remember how the “itsy-bitsy spider climbed up the waterspout”? If your gutters are clogged, the rain can’t come to “wash the spider out.” Spiders can frighten many people, even if the spiders aren’t poisonous, such as the wolf spider. However, your gutters can become home to more venomous species, such as black widows and brown recluses.
  • Ants will establish their colonies in gutters. They might not find food there, but they will find a treasure trove of food inside your house.

Having pests in your gutters sometimes means that you won’t notice they’re there until the damage has happened. Insects can chew through wood that has rotted from excessive moisture, and rodents are notorious for finding ways into your home. The best and most affordable way to deal with pests is through prevention: Keeping your gutters clean and installing gutter guards is your best bet.

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How Much Does an Average Gutter Project Cost?

The most obvious factor affecting the cost of any gutter project is the size of your house. The average house needs 125 to 200 linear feet of gutters. A larger house will need more, while a multistory house will cost more due to the increased risk of injury and difficulty of getting the gutters up to the roof.


Installing gutters can be DIY if you are comfortable on a ladder. All the project will cost you is time and materials. It’s always best to work with a partner when climbing on ladders in case of accidents. Finally, the heavier materials are best handled with an assistant.

DIY average cost—$879.00

Professional installation is your best option if you are not comfortable on a ladder or are not nimble any more. Professionals will also know how to slope the gutters for the best drainage and will tell you if you need a downspout extension or not.

Average cost for professional gutter/downspout installation—$900.00

These costs do not include downspouts. Most gutters will need downspouts every 35 feet. A house with 200 linear feet of gutters would need about six downspouts to handle the expected volume of water.

Average cost per downspout—$10.00 to $15.00


Cleaning your gutters should be done every six months to a year. They should also be checked after a big storm. Most homeowners dread this task, but it is the single most important step in maintaining gutters.

If you clean your gutters yourself, you’ll need the following tools:

  • Gloves
  • Trowel
  • Trash bags
  • Garden hose with a pressure nozzle
  • Dust mask to protect against mold spores in the debris

When cleaning the gutters as a DIY project:

  • After scooping out large debris and putting it in the trash bag, use the hose to wash the gutter, directing the wastewater toward the downspout.
  • Be sure to wash the downspout. If the downspout is clogged and water pressure isn’t enough to clear it, you may need to use an auger or “plumber’s snake.”
  • Start from the bottom and work the snake upwards until the clog breaks free. You may have to use the snake a few times to break up larger clogs. Spray water down the downspout afterwards to make sure the water flows freely.

Professional cleaners can always handle this job for you. Aside from having someone else do the dirty work, professionals can also inspect your gutters while they’re up there. They can make sure your fasteners are tight and look for corrosion or other potential trouble spots. Also, as working on a ladder can be risky, working with a licensed contractor can help protect you from being liable for any on-the-job injuries.

The average cost to clean your gutters is between $100.00 and $190.00. Downspouts cost extra to clean, if necessary, and cleaning gutters on multi-story homes will always increase the cost, usually by about $100.00.


Eventually, every gutter system needs repairs: fasteners come loose, corrosion causes holes, lengths of gutter can sag, accidents can bend gutters, and debris from storms can batter them.

The cost to repair gutters is about $330, but will vary depending on the extent of the damage. Obviously, the more damage, the higher the cost. Usually only one or two sections need repair. In this case, you can get by with only replacing some parts. If more than three or four sections need repairing, then you may want to consider installing a whole new system to avoid a future, and possibly more costly, expense.

  • Holes—Holes can be caused by corrosion. The corrosion usually forms when gutters have not been cleaned, but they can also be caused by loose fasteners or joiners that expand and contract and wear down. The damage will usually be on the gutter and will have to be patched. The patch must be of the same metal as the gutter to avoid galvanic corrosion, so this will affect the costs:
    • DIY: Less than $10.00 for roofing cement, patch, and scraper.
    • Professional: Varies by job complexity, but averages around $116 to $251 nationally.
  • Sagging—If a gutter accumulates too much debris, the weight can cause it to sag. This prevents the water from flowing to the downspout. Some people try to fix this by drilling holes in the sagging portion to let the water out, but this destroys the integrity of the gutter system and makes it useless. The best solution is to clean out the gutter and re-attach the fasteners and/or hangers to provide proper support.
    • DIY: Hangers are $1.85 to $9.75 each, and ferrules are $0.86 to $5.99 each.
    • Professionals: The pros get $130.00 to $281.00, depending on the job’s complexity and materials.
  • Bent gutters—Metal gutters can get bent and vinyl gutters can break if hit by anything too heavy. During a storm, larger branches can break off of nearby trees and strike the gutters. Also, ladders leaned against gutters can bend them, especially if they clang against the gutter. Most people avoid this problem by using an A-frame ladder, but against a tall roof, you may have no choice. Because bending can crack a gutter and lead to leaks, replacing the section is recommended.
    • DIY: $3.98 to $118.00 per 10-foot section, depending on materials and roof profile.
    • Professionals: Average $250.00, but this can cost more, depending on materials and the complexity of the job.
  • Disconnected from downspout—Any event, from high winds to earthquakes, can shake a connection loose. If your gutter gets disconnected from the downspout, water will fall freely to your foundation and cause leaks, mold, and erosion. Fortunately, a simple reattachment is all that’s needed.
    • DIY: Negligible, as all you need are screws of the same material as the fasteners.
    • Professionals: They charge $116.00 to $252.00 depending on the location of the disconnection.
  • Improperly pitched gutters—Gutters must be pitched properly to allow good water flow. With time, however, they can shift from their original pitch. Generally, gutters should slope towards a downspout at a half inch for every 10 feet.
    • DIY: Negligible, as you can usually just relocate existing hardware.
    • Professional: They charge $130.00 to $282.00.

There can be other repairs associated with a gutter job than can increase the average cost to $250.00 to $300.00 or more, such as replacing damaged fascia. Be sure to discuss any additional costs with your contractor before starting the job.

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Gutter Material Types

Gutters are available in many different types of materials, and each material has its advantages and disadvantages. Before making a purchase, consider the appearance and maintenance of the materials.

  • Vinyl—Vinyl gutters are very popular because they are lightweight and are available in many different colors. They’re low in price and easy to install, two factors that have a huge impact on their popularity. However, they are prone to leaking at the joints and often don’t last as long as metal gutters as UV rays make the material prone to cracking and becoming brittle. 10-foot section: $3.98.
  • Aluminum—Aluminum gutters are more expensive than vinyl, but they last longer. Still fairly light, they are easy to install and have good corrosion resistance. Aluminum bends easily, so if you live in an area with heavy snows, then you’ll want to get the heavier-gauge aluminum to support the weight. 10-foot section: $19.88.
  • Wood—Wood gutters provide a very nice aesthetic to a rural home or can be a point of pride when restoring a Victorian home. Usually made from cedar, they are generally pest-resistant. They do require a lot of maintenance to keep them water-resistant. 10-foot section: $125.00 to $200.00, depending on profile (shape and contouring).
  • Steel—Steel gutters are durable, withstanding years of heavy rains without rusting as long as they are kept clean. They are heavier than vinyl and aluminum, though. If you are installing them yourself, you’ll want to have an assistant. 10-foot section: $6.98.
  • Copper—Copper gutters are one of the most expensive options, but they can also be the most attractive. If kept sealed, they can retain their bright color for some time. You can also let them develop a patina for a vintage look. Joints and seams must be soldered, so professional installation is recommended. 10-foot section; $75.00 to $118.00, depending on profile (shape and contouring).

When buying gutters, remember to buy hangers, corners, and downspouts. The cost of these products depends on their materials:

  • Hangers—Hangers support the gutter. From $1.85 to $9.75.
  • End caps—End caps block the ends of gutters to make sure water flows in the right direction. From $0.98 to $5.75.
  • Drop outlet—Drop outlets are the connectors to the downspout. From $5.79 to $39.99.
  • Downspout—Downspouts are the vertical gutter that sends rain water down and away from your house. Some require extensions to make sure the water can’t pool up. From $8.96 to $118.00.
  • Joiners—Joiners connect the lengths of gutter to one another. From $4.34 to $12.73.
  • Ferrules—Ferrules help hold fasteners in place, which helps keep your hangers from pulling away from your roof. From $0.86 each to $5.99 each.
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Gutter Accessories

Gutters also have accessories, and these additions help your gutters perform their best and stay clean. Other accessories can help protect your foundation and landscaping from damage. While they are not absolutely necessary, they can go a long way in keeping your gutter system healthy.

  • Gutter guards—These grates fit over your gutters and keep larger debris such as leaves from collecting in the gutter. They also help keep squirrels, mice, rats, and birds from getting in and making nests. From $2.00 to $7.00, depending on length. (Copper gutter guards are significantly more expensive and can cost up to $350.00 per 3-foot section.)
  • Gutter covers—Gutter covers are a solid cover with small louvers. The solid section deflects leaves and most other debris from the gutter, while the louvers only allow rainwater to get through. Because leaves can hang on a grate, many people with lots of nearby trees prefer a gutter cover. From $3.96 to $15.00 per 3-foot section.
  • Gutter brushes—A gutter brush looks like a bottle brush. It sits inside your gutter and the bristles deflect leaves and other large debris while allowing water to flow unabated. $42.73 each (4.5” x 12-foot section)
  • Gutter strainers—Because gutter guards can cost as much as the gutters, if not more, many people install a gutter strainer, which is a wire mesh that fits over the downspout and keeps the downspout from clogging up. They are much cheaper than gutter guards at around $4.00 each.
  • Gutter filter—These are lengths of specially treated foam that fit into a gutter. The foam allows water to flow to the downspout while not leaving any room for debris. You must be sure that your filter is the proper size for your gutter or it will not be able to perform. Average $1.00 per linear foot.
  • Downspout extension—These are used when the standard elbow at the bottom doesn’t send water far enough away from your foundation or when landscaping would trap water. Some are flexible while some are semi-rigid. $6.34 to $12.45 each.
  • Splash block—Similar to a downspout extension, a splash block is a wedge-shaped, open channel that diverts water a short distance from the foundation. $6.28 each for a basic splash block, but decorative ones can go as high as $32.00.
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Are Seamless Gutters Right for You?

While seamless or “continuous” gutters aren’t truly seamless as they still have connecting points at corners and downspouts, they have significantly fewer seams than traditional gutters. This means there are fewer “fail points,” which translates to having a lower chance of developing leaks.

  • More attractive: There are no joiners to break up an otherwise clean line. They are also cut to exacting measurements for a home. This makes for a clean, tight fit to the roofline.
  • Less leaks: Cracks can still form due to physical damage to the gutter, but the corrosion caused by expansion and contraction along connecting points is virtually wiped out.
  • Easier to install: This is possible because there aren’t many connecting points to worry about every 10 feet or so.
  • Variety of colors and finishes: They are often covered in a baked-on enamel finish for added protection against the elements and for color durability.
  • Easy to clean: They don’t have connecting ridges to trap debris.

An estimated 75% of new gutter installations and system replacements are seamless. While seamless gutters cost on average $10.00 more per linear foot than traditional gutters, they also tend to last twice as long due to the reduced number of fail points. In time, the lowered maintenance cost outweighs the increased upfront cost.


While gutters have never been the biggest selling point for a house, they’re designed to either complement a house’s appearance or just serve their basic purpose. You might even say that if you don’t notice them, then they’re working. But if they aren’t working, you will notice them, and gutter repairs can be quite costly if you don’t deal with them early on!

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