Why do my gutters overflow in heavy rain?

I am writing with the hope that you can help us solve the problem with gutters cleaning in Concord style home. Since installing the new roof (detachment) and gutters we have had a problem with water leaking from one area of ​​the gutters during heavy rain.

This part of the gutter is cleaned regularly, so there is no blockage. We are not sure if the height of the gutter is a problem or whether we need a wider gutter in this area. We had difficulty finding a company that has experience in using wider gutters.

We’ll be grateful for any suggestions we can contact to help you solve this problem.

  • B.M, via email

Answer: Installing gutters and associated downpipes were quite an art. Book Traditional Details for Building, Restoration, Renovation, and Rehabilitation, edited by John Belle, John Ray Hoke Jr., and Stephen Kliment (c1991, 1998 John Wiley & Sons) is a compilation of architectural details from the 1932–1951 editions. Architectural graphic standards.

This lengthy description suggests that at least once there were very specific and relevant details about the construction and installation of everything from walkways, windows, frames, fireplaces, and chimneys, roofs, and gutters, among others. This book is a great reading to see “how things were done” at some point.

Regardless of whether the gutters were to be built-in, made of wood or metal, there are charts and cross-sections showing everything from size to scale. There is even a chart for different cities in the United States that gives “Rainfall data and drainage factors.” It was necessary to calculate the area of ​​the roof to be drained, the roof slope, and the amount of rainfall that should be taken to properly select the gutters and their guides (or downpipes).

If we employ an architect in the first half of the 20th century, chances are that they will use at least some of these details when designing not only the roof structure but also the gutter system.

Needless to say, times have changed. Most new homes have a basic 5-inch “K” aluminum gutter and matching rectangular downspouts. Aluminum gutters can be made on-site from aluminum coils in various colors. Many older homes like yours have gutters installed after replacing the roof and discarding the original gutters. Copper and galvanized gutters are still available, but most designers do not want the additional costs of using them.

The gutters should be slightly inclined towards the downpipes. However, some builders do not do this, because the gutter tilted to one side or the other may not have the same charm as the one that is horizontal and not sloping. This may also apply to roof contractors and their gutter installers. My first question is: are the gutters correctly spaced?

Next on the list is the number of downpipes. The more downspouts installed, the greater the cost.

Therefore, some contractors use only one in the gutter, where two downpipes (one at each end) may be more appropriate. Too few downpipes can cause the overflow of gutters during heavy rain.

Next is the size of the gutter itself. A 5-inch gutter is typical, but 6-inch gutters are also available. Depending on the size of the roof surface to be drained, a larger gutter may be needed. In both cases, the gutter should be installed in such a way that the front edge of the roof flows down into the gutter, not above it or behind it. The treatment of the edge of the eaves on the roof edge may need to be adjusted so that water does not flow between the gutter and the dashboard to which the majority is attached.

To attach the gutters to the dashboard, I prefer gutter hangers bolted to the dashboard than using long nails (or spikes, as they are called). The spikes may loosen over time.

In cases where there is no flat dashboard to which the gutter can be attached, a suspended, half-round gutter is more suitable. They are now available in aluminum and are also suitable for hoods with slats on the console. Gutter support belts should always be secured in place under the shingle, not over them.

Gutters should always be installed with the front edge below the plane of the roofline. In this way, if snow or ice slides off the roof, it does not get stuck in the gutter or, in the worst cases, breaks the gutter from the house.

As for your question, I don’t think your problems are too serious.

I would contact several reputable general contractors and ask them for a gutter or two contractors they trust.

In the meantime, check if the water flows behind the gutter or just from the front. If this is the case, I suspect you may need an additional downpipe and/or a larger gutter.