How to Install Rain Gutters With Downspouts

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Properly installed gutters protect your home and property from water damage.
Properly installed gutters protect your home and property from water damage. (Image: house roof edge image by jovica antoski from Fotolia.com)

Placing gutters and downspouts on your home is a relatively simple and cost-effective way of preventing water damage to both the structure and the surrounding landscaping. It can also keep you from getting soaked as you enter and exit your house during stormy weather. Prepare for this project by measuring the eves that will hold the gutters, and measuring the height from the fascia to the ground for downspouts. Also plan where your downspouts will be and which way they need to point in order to direct the runoff away from the foundation of the house. (Reference 1)

Things You'll Need

  • Ladder
  • Measuring tape
  • Level
  • Chalkline
  • Tin snips
  • Chisel
  • Hammer
  • Drill
  • Crimping tool
  • Caulk

Use your level and chalkline to create a line that slopes ¼ to ½ inch for every 10 feet of gutter on the house's fascia by driving a nail ½ inch below the roofing material overhang at one end of the eve. Attach the chalkline to the nail. The bubble in the level should be just off center of the up side; when you are satisfied with your slope, snap the chalkline to create your guide. The slope should always lead to the downspout. (Reference 2)

Measure the length of the eve, adding roughly 1 inch to every open end. Repeat for each length of gutter needed. (Reference 2)

Cut and assemble the gutters on the ground. Use tin snips, and cut the sides first so that the gutter can be bent back for easy access to the bottom with the snips. When piecing, slide the gutters inside one another and screw together. Add caulking to seal the seam. Add end caps to the ends to close them off. (Reference 2)

Cut holes for the downspouts. Use the downspout outlet as a guide, tracing the outline of the inside of it onto the bottom of the gutter with a pencil. Start the hole with a chisel and use tin snips to cut it out. (Reference 2)

Fasten the assembled gutter to the house, placing the lip of the gutter along the chalkline. Different gutters fasten in different ways, but barring a manufacturer's fastening, screw the gutters into place using wood screws. (Reference 2)

Install the bracket hangers beneath the existing roofing material. Always follow manufacturer's instructions for the brackets you have chosen. Place them about every 2 feet and use the included screws to secure them to the roof. (Reference 2)

Attach the hangers to the front lip of the gutter.

Assemble the downspouts according to your measurements. There should be 3 elbows; the first takes the downspout from the gutter to the house, the second bends the downspout to run parallel to the wall, and the third angles the end of the spout away from the house. Use a crimping tool to crimp the ends that must be joined; this makes the crimped end small enough to insert into the uncrimped end of the next piece. Joints will come with one end already crimped, and this may be sufficient, depending on your project. Secure with screws. (Reference 2)

Brace as needed with downspout brackets, 2 for a one story structure and 3 for a two story structure. (Reference 3, pg 8)

Tips & Warnings

  • Be sure your seams face downhill in order to minimize water being forced through them. (Reference 2)

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