Advice needed: What to do about our gutters?

By | December 16, 2009

I’m hoping that someone out there who knows more than I about rain gutters, who has done work on their own gutters similar to what I’m considering, or who has used one of the companies I’m considering, will be able to provide some helpful insight and advice…

We use Ned Stevens (NS) to clean our gutters several times each year.  The last two times they cleaned our gutters, they informed us that several of the gutters have separated from the fascia boards and need to be replaced.  When I asked whether they could repair the gutters instead, they were adamant that only replacement would solve the problem.

Because this seemed fishy to me, and because I try to always get multiple estimates before doing any major work on my home, I called New England Gutter Kings (GK) and asked them to come out and give me three estimates:

  1. cost of repairing the existing gutters, if in their opinion they could be repaired;
  2. cost of installing all new standard gutters; and
  3. cost of installing their “King Cover” covered gutter system, which has a lifetime warranty against blocked gutters (i.e., they claim that we’ll never need to have our gutters cleaned again, and if the gutters ever get blocked, GK will come out and clear them for free).

The estimator from GK seemed very professional and said:

  1. As far as he could tell from looking at them from the ground, there’s no reason why our existing gutters can’t be repaired, and GK will do it for $400, which includes installing new flashing everywhere to ensure that rain drips solidly into the gutters rather than leaking behind them.
  2. Installing all new gutters will cost $1,652.
  3. King Cover can be installed either on our existing gutters or on the all new gutters for $1,360.  If we install it on our existing gutters, then repairs to the existing gutters are included so we won’t have to pay the $400.

All of this seemed perfectly reasonable.  Then I asked NS for similar estimates.  They said the following:

  1. Replace bad gutters for $608 (which takes into account a 10% discount for being on their annual service plan).
  2. Replace all gutters for $963 (again includes 10% discount).
  3. Annual service plan, which includes minor repairs and four gutter cleanings, is $384.
  4. They don’t recommend gutter cover systems, because debris and small animals get into them (i.e., they don’t really work as advertised) and then it’s difficult to clear the blockages because of the covers.

Some thoughts and observations:

  • I thought NS was trying to rip me off when they claimed that the gutters needed to be replaced rather than repaired, but the price they’re quoting to replace them is only a couple hundred dollars higher than GK is quoting to repair them.
  • It’s hard to say why NS is insisting on replacement rather than repair.  Perhaps they saw something when cleaning our gutters that GK didn’t see when inspecting them from the ground.  Perhaps replacing is easier than repairing and they don’t have enough crews with the expertise to do repairs.  Perhaps they don’t like repairing old gutters because such repairs tend to fail more often than new gutters and they don’t want to warranty work that’s likely to fail due to circumstances outside their control.
  • NS’s price for installing all new gutters is much cheaper than GK’s price.
  • Is NS telling the truth when they say that gutter cover systems don’t work, or are they just trying to protect a guaranteed annual revenue stream from selling me their annual service plan?
  • If GK’s representations and warranty for its cover system can be believed, then the covers will pay for themselves in less than four years, since I will no longer have to pay for gutter cleanings.
  • GK has an A rating in Angie’s List, 116 reports there, and 5 “Page of Happiness” nominations.  NS has a B rating, only 12 reports (which suggests that perhaps there isn’t enough data for an accurate rating), and no POH nominations.

What my gut is telling me at this point is (a) Ned Stevens probably isn’t actually trying to rip me off, but (b) I should probably go with the $1,360 quote from New England Gutter Kings to repair the existing gutters and install covers.

Does anybody have any advice to offer?

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4 thoughts on “Advice needed: What to do about our gutters?

  1. Fred Smith

    Aluminum could be bent out of place/kinked trying to move them. Wood could, especially if “punky” soft, get severely damaged, chipping, breaking apart, etc.

    TAKE A SHEET OF .032 ALUM GUTTER AND TRY TO KINK IT. MAYBE WITH A HAMMER.

    Home Improvmemnt store products are never installed correctly by homeowner. You need to fasten then with screws like a good pro will. Otherwise start collecting them off the lawn as the start poping out with wind, rain, snow.

    Ned Stevens is a gutter cleaning company. They run gutter cleaning in several states. They want to clean them every year.

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Gutters and gutter covers — a third opinion « Something better to do

  3. Rain Man

    If the gutters have separated then putting them back in place runs a risk, if small, of damaging them (assuming they’re not damaged yet.)

    Aluminum could be bent out of place/kinked trying to move them. Wood could, especially if “punky” soft, get severely damaged, chipping, breaking apart, etc.

    This also depends on the length of the gutters and many other variables. If you’ve got a single gutter system going around four corners that could be really difficult to fix. If it is a series of single gutters then it should be more easily done, but that’s not to say it is easy by any stretch.

    I agree with Wouter. Both sound reasonable. If you’ve got someone you like and trust until now….

    Reply
  4. Wouter

    I put covers on my gutters a couple of years ago (the cheap type that you buy at Home Depot, you clip them onto the edge of the gutter and slide them under the roof shingles) and never had any problems since. I live in a wooded area with lots of critters. I find them everywhere except in my gutters.
    I installed the covers myself for about $100 in cost of materials, but I have a ranch with easy access to the gutters all around so I could do it in relative safety. I can also easily climb up from time to time to have a look if everything still looks good. I suspect your situation is slightly different.

    The cover system with lifetime warranty is probably worth it, but there is value in having someone inspect your gutters while cleaning them from time to time if you cannot check them yourself. If they spot issues and can repair them before they become big problems, it could save you a lot of money and hassle. It’s unlikely that the GK warranty covers water damage as a result of wear and tear to your gutters.

    For what it’s worth, neither offer sounds outrageous to me.

    Reply

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