Sometimes removing old gutters is tricky

Q. When we built our home 20 years ago we specified aluminum gutters since our roofing is asbestos cement shingles. To our dismay, the contractor put on galvanized iron gutters which now have rusted through and leak. Also, nearby trees shed their leaves into the gutters which clog the downspouts. A roof coating applied over the holes gives at best only temporary results. I now want to put on new aluminun gutters. How can I remove the existing gutters without damaging the rigid shingles and underlayment? B. R. Cheyney New Castle, Calif.

A. Those old galvanized-iron gutters served for 20 years -- and that's not bad. The fact that the builder used them at all, however, is indefensible if the specifications called for aluminum. Was this fact called to the attention of the builder at the time?

The asphalt coating used to fill the leaky holes is likely the best solution as long as it lasts and as long as you are willing to climb up there to apply the goop. You could get many more years out of the old troughs, if you want to.

No matter what kind of gutters you have on your house -- wood or metal -- you should remove the leaves, especially before a rain.

To remove and replace the old gutters with aluminum ones, call in a sheet-metal contractor for an on-site inspection, recommendation, and the cost of labor and materials to do the job. It may be more than a do-it-yourself project.

The fussiness is in the removal of the old gutters up under the roofing without damaging the shingles. You also will have to use the right type of gutter for your house, plus the required flashing, and then get the right slope to the gutters so as to compel the rain to run to the downspouts and to the ground -- away from the house.

No doubt a specially designed metal flashing is what you need.

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