Let’s start where most housing questions start. Are gutters required by building codes?
No. Not in Mississippi.
To minimize soil saturation houses with foundation walls (crawl space and basements) should pay particular attention to how roof water is managed. Positive drainage away from the building’s foundation is required. Before you go make a confirmed decision check with your local building department for details.
The old Council of American Building Officials – CABO code (this goes back to the 70’s and 80’s) stated:
Final grading shall provide a downward slope away from the house along all foundation walls. The final grade shall provide a minimum slope of one-half unit vertical in 12 units horizontal ( 4 percent slope ) for a minimum of 6 feet from the house.CABO Code Reference – Section 406.3.5
Today the International Code Council (ICC) interpretation mentions that a post tension slab on grade foundation built on expansive clay is not “required” to collect water at the roof and discharge it at the ground (put it in a gutter).
The code states the ground should slope downward away from the building 6 inches in the first 10 feet (5%). The exception (when the 10 foot distance is not able to be met) allows the lesser slope of 2% for swales. If you don’t have a swale, the slope is 5%, if you have a swale, it’s 2%.
I’d love to tell you that most landscaping in Central Mississippi includes a foundation built with a 5% slope – however, that is simply not the case.
It’s complicated. It starts with the fact that Mississippi doesn’t have a statewide uniform building code. Some building officials simply don’t “require” that section of the code be met.
Also – – once in place, homeowners have the right and option to add flower beds, swimming pools, decks, patios, driveways and make other structural changes to the original build/design. In other words – the homeowner can and often does make changes to the property that can affect the slope.
Seamless vs Sectioned Gutters
Both seamless and sectioned gutters and their downspout materials are made of aluminum, vinyl, galvanized steel, stainless steel or copper. Most gutters in Central Mississippi are painted aluminum.
Sectional gutters are sold in pieces. They’re usually sold in 10 to 20 feet “sections” and are cut with a hacksaw. All sectional systems have end caps, corner pieces and drop outlets for connecting to downspouts. The drawback to sectional systems: all those seams eventually leak.
Seamless gutters won’t leak as much. The lengths are extruded and cut to custom lengths on site using a portable machine. The most popular sizes are 5 and 6 inch. Seamless gutters also have end caps, corner pieces and drop outlets for connecting to downspouts.
I prefer and recommend seamless gutter installations. If you use sectioned gutter, here’s how to make a splice.
Watch this video and learn how to connect outlets and downspouts.
Regular Inspections and Maintenance Is Important
As mentioned seamless gutters are the preferred type and as with anything man-made, quality is most affected by the experience of the craftsman. Hire a professional. I recommend these local pros.
Here’s my list of the most important points to note during regular maintenance inspections.
- Clean the gutter often. At a minimum, inspect the system twice a year. Beware trees – leaves and small limbs are the culprit.
- Most roof material in Central Mississippi is asphalt shingles. Granule loss is common. Look out for collecting sand and granule material in the base of horizontal gutter runs.
- Seams begin leaking when the silicone caulking/sealer has become brittle and cracked. Look in the base of the gutter and on the inside seams for damaged seal.
- The #1 reason gutters leak start with poor slope. Standing water is common. Look for pooling or ponding water in the gutter. Adjust the brackets and fasting devices to adjust the pitch of the gutter.
- Check the downspout. It should be securely fastened to the wall and should terminate 5 feet from the foundation’s edge. Don’t dump water near the foundation.
- Once the water is in the gutter system, don’t dump water back onto the roof. (see below)
Top 4 Gutter Installation Mistakes
Coming in at #1: dumping water from a higher level gutter to a lower roof line is the worse mistake gutter installers make and can lead to building damage. Once water is captured in the gutter system, keep it in the system. It’s common to see fascia and soffit damage from this poor installation mistake. Water will shoot off the end of the gutter and wet the fascia and soffit – where it will wick up into the plywood. The proper way to move water from an upper to a lower gutter is via a downspout that starts at the top gutter and terminates in the lower.
The second worse mistake your installer can make is to install a long run of gutter, too flat. Without pitch water will stand in the gutter. Standing water is a huge No-No. Over time leaf and roof debris will collect in the gutter flow line. The standing water will stop the gutter and rot the sealant. The extra weight in the gutter will bend the brackets and cause the gutter to sag – making a bad situation worse.
The third mistake – not properly fastening the gutter hangers/brackets. Gutters are fixed to the roof with the use of hangers that must be carefully spaced together to provide a proper lift and support for the gutter. The spacing between the hangers should be installed about three feet or less apart. Improper spacing can lead to sagging gutters (see #2 above). The gutter could eventually pull itself down when loaded with a heavy rain event.
Number 4 – the last of my top mistakes your staller can make is using sectioned gutters. Just don’t do it. Hire a professional and have them install seamless gutters. In the long run, you’ll be glad.
Best Bonus Tip: When inspecting and cleaning your gutters its best to use a standoff. The ladder attachment will protect your gutter from being scratched and damaged. Werner makes an adjustable product that quick clips onto most aluminum ladder models. Use a gutter scoop that allows water to pass through it. When you’re ready to reseal the leaks, use DAP 18377 3.0 Crystal Clear Premium Gutter and Flashing Sealant.