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  • Writer's pictureDarrin Card

These Gutters are a Pain- Nail and Ferrul

In the 1980's and 1990's it was really popular to install gutters using a nail and ferrul or spike and ferrul hanging system. These are still used today, however they are not as prevalent due to the issues that cause me to call out this system in my inspections. The nails are typically 5" long and made from aluminum and the ferruls are sleeves made of plastic or aluminum that the nail can slide through. Holes are drilled through the gutter and the sleeve is placed inside the gutter. The nail is then threaded through the hole in the gutter, through the ferrul, and pounded into the wood fascia board. The ferrul provides support so the gutter doesn't collapse in toward the house.

If you have ever had a gutters installed with nail and ferruls you probably understand it is a struggle to keep them set into the wood fascia board. They constantly pull loose and will eventually cause the gutter to sag and fall if not maintained. They pull loose due to seasonal movement, excess weight due to heavy rains, snow, ice, leaves, and debris. Leaning a ladder on them constantly in order to fix them can also cause them to pull loose. Overtime the nails will enlarge the holes to the point that they will no longer secure the gutter, at this point you have, in my opinion, two options for repair.

Gutter Screw and Ferrul System

The easiest way to fix nails that keep pulling loose is to install gutter screws. These operate just like the nail and ferrul system but the threads on the screw help prevent them from pulling loose. There are downsides to this type of installation however:

1) Screws can still pull loose. Even though they will hold better than nails, they could still pull loose.

3) If the ferruls are not sized properly the gutter can still flex, causing aesthetic defects.

2) You may have to drill new holes through the gutter if the holes in the fascia from the nails are too large to accept the new screws. This can be visually displeasing due to the number of holes in the gutter although you can fill old holes using pop rivets.

Gutter Hanger (Hidden Hanger) System

In my opinion this is the ultimate in gutter hanging systems. There are many brands and style out there, and they each have their own advantages and disadvantages, but over either the nail and ferrul or screw and ferrul, this system rules.

Using a bracket specially designed to sit in the lip of the gutter and screw into the fascia this is, in my opinion, the best option for retrofitting nail and ferrul systems. The brackets are designed to hold a heavier load than nail and ferrul systems. The screw enters the fascia at an angle opposite that of the load of the gutter, creating a stronger connection point less likely to come loose. And the brackets are all but invisible from the ground. The old nail holes will still be visible but a properly sized rivet can be used to hide and seal up the holes. Installation is really easy, slip the bracket into the gutter and use a drill to set the screw. Brackets should be placed every 2 feet.

Additional Tips

- Be sure to always use proper ladder safety when working at high heights.

- Always follow manufacturer instructions when installing products. If there isn't instructions with the product try looking them up online, most building materials have instructions.

- While installing your new hanging system be sure to clean the gutters. Keeping the gutters free from debris is important as it reduces the weight of the gutters so they are less likely to pull loose.

- After cleaning the gutters be sure to reseal any open joints using a 50 year exterior grade caulk. Open joints will allow water to run out of the gutter and could cause leaks through the foundation into the basement of the home.

- Be sure the gutter slopes correctly when rehanging your gutter. Standard slope is one half inch for every 10 feet. I will measure out to 20 feet and then down and inch from the drip edge. I then snap a chalk line from the bottom of the drip edge on one end and to my line on the other end to follow when installing the gutters. I do this for the entire length of the gutter to be sure I don't get a belly in my gutter. Don't assume the gutters were installed correctly to begin with, always check the slope of the gutters.

- If you have large trees close to your home you may want to consider a protection system for your gutters to reduce cleanings. There are many available and they will be reviewed in a future article.

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