Gutters and gutter covers — a third opinion

By | December 28, 2009

Recently, I wrote about trying to figure out what to do about my gutters.  Ned Stevens says three of them needed to be replaced at a cost of $600.  New England Gutter Kings says that they can be repaired for only $400, and for $1,360 I could install gutter covers that will be warrantied against clogs for life.  I couldn’t figure out whether to believe “they need to be replaced” or “they can be repaired,” and I didn’t know whether to trust the gutter covers and their supposed lifetime warranty.

This morning, I got a third consultation from Stephen Frederick.  Stephen has been installing and repairing gutters in the Boston area for more than 25 years and comes highly recommended by friends of ours and by everyone on Angie’s List.

The most important thing he told me is that the biggest risk mentioned by the other companies — water leaking behind the gutters and causing the fascia boards to rot — is not in fact a risk at all, because my fascia boards are covered by aluminum.  Neither of the other two companies mentioned this.  Either they both intentionally misled me about the risk of rotting fascia boards, or they were both too clueless to understand that it isn’t a risk when the boards are covered.

Stephen also said that none of my gutters need to be replaced (“I hate to say it, but those gutter cleaning companies don’t make a lot of money cleaning gutters; they make their money selling gutters”) and that he only sees them pulling away from the house slightly in one place, which he said he could repair for about $100.

Stephen strongly recommends against gutter covers for two main reasons:

  1. They don’t really keep everything out of the gutters.  They may keep enough of the big stuff out to prevent the gutters from becoming completely clogged, but they let dirt and small stuff get through and build up at the bottom of the gutters.  This has all sorts of negative ramifications, e.g., slower water flow through the gutters to the downspouts; extra weight on the nails / screws causing the gutters to pull away from the house; providing a breeding ground for mosquitoes; etc.  Furthermore, in a good ol’ New England deluge, the covers don’t let the water into the gutters fast enough and it comes pouring over the side.
  2. The supposed lifetime warranty applies for as long as the covers are attached to the house, but what they don’t mention is that they put screws through the bottom row of shingles when installing them.  When you replace your shingles, the covers have to be removed; say good-bye to your warranty!

I called New England Gutter Kings and asked them to fax or email me a copy of the full warranty on the covers, since the informational packet they gave me contains only a “summary” of the warranty.  They said they would email it to me “right away,” but it never arrived.  This could have been a simple email transmission problem, or perhaps it was a passive aggressive attempt to prevent me from seeing the full warranty before paying them to install the gutters.

It looks like I’ll soon be another satisfied customer of Stephen Frederick.

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4 thoughts on “Gutters and gutter covers — a third opinion

  1. Fred Smith

    Your posting is completely incorrect. You were lead by someone who gave you what you wanted to hear and not sound advice. In part this advice was given by someone who could not provide you a competitive product and is outside of current industry practices. Unfortunately this false information has been taken by others who have read this post as coming from some authority.

    If water is passing behind your gutters the drip should be correct regardless of fascia wrap. Its like saying that the leak from your windows is dripping on a linoleum floor so I don’t need to worry about the floor. Any unneeded moisture that is trapped in between the gutter and fascia is not a good thing. Water will penetrate through nail holes in the wrap and gutter, the seams in the wrap, ect. If water is passing behind your gutter that moisture is always there and consonantly replenished. If the drip edge were corrected or properly installed so the water would fall into the gutter the water would not be lead behind the gutter as a result of being installed to far towards the fascia and not properly spaced, the moisture build up would not occur.

    Gutter covers work. Rain gutters are not maintenance free and require multiple cleanings a year. The overhead on gutter cleaning is low and much more profitable that installing gutters. That is why gutter cleaning only businesses exist. Problem is it is not 12 month work. There is little money in replacing white aluminum gutter as the overhead is high and requires volume to keep employees busy, and there are one man owner/installers who don’t have the legitimate costs of business (workers comp that covers employees, payroll taxes, unemployment – they pay cash or as 1099 subs to cheat), don’t invest in equipment, or product, or training to gain knowledge on subjects such as moisture management.
    Life time covers mean that the company offering the warranty will come out and clean the rain gutters if they do clog. Simple as that. You think a gutter may have a backup or is over pouring, or the bottom of a downspout is not draining as much as it should – what ever – call and a crew comes out and makes an adjustment, repair, cleaning, what ever. To debate how well they work varies from home to home. Most homes can reduce maintenance from 70%-100% effectiveness, regardless of type of rain, whatever. This does not come from speculative advice from a home owner after a few presentation but some from someone who actually know this business. I don’t know your contractor but I know enough from your posting to know the type. He cant sell you something he knows little or nothing about who sold you on letting him patch your gutter system for the next 10 years. Pay now or pay later as the saying goes. So if you want an argument without any authority to convince you not to spend money wisely read above. Otherwise leave the advice to the pros. Nate hopefully you got other advice.

  2. matt

    Stay away from his company.
    They do not show up for your appointment and waste your time.

  3. Nate

    Sounds like the choice is clear. This guy sounds great. Good to know about gutter covers etc.


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