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Guide to eaves trough or built-in roof gutters: this article explains the definition, inspection, and repair of built-in or eaves trough or "integral" roof gutter systems.
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Our eaves trough gutter rebuild photos below show a project by the author (DF) at which we had to completely reconstruct the original eaves-trough gutter from scratch, as the original structure had rotted badly. This shallow eaves trough gutter incorporated an elongated triangular gutter bottom board that created the slope necessary for the gutter to drain properly.
Our first eaves trough gutter repair photo ( below left) shows the original eaves trough gutter boards (rotted). We very carefully removed and measured each component part of the gutter as that information made it very easy for us to replicate the original design during the rebuild, including the custom-tapered compound-miter cut boards necessary for gutter drainage.
Our second integral gutter repair photo (below right) shows the basic structure in place but before we inserted the elongated triangular gutter floor that would give slope to the trough.
Our third built-in or eaves trough gutter repair photo (below left) shows all of the drainage board parts in place before we installed our copper lining. Our fourth integral gutter rebuild photo shows the final gutter with copper lined and soldered in place.
Watch out: long runs of copper used for roof flashing or gutter lining is at high risk of flexing and cracking due to thermal expansion and contraction. For runs of 10 feet or more you'll need to design a flexible mount and joint system or use a different material to avoid cracks and leaks.
Green link shows where you are in this article series.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Question: what's the best way to convert an integral gutter to fascia-mounted aluminum K-type roof gutter?
I read your instructions for repairing an integral gutter system. We would like to replace our integral system with aluminum gutters, but are unsure how far back to cut the roofing, and whether to remove the rubber membrane before installing the new shingles. Can you help us with these questions? - T.S. 7/31/2013
I'd be glad to try to assist and my comments below may be off -base if I've misunderstood just what you have currently installed for an integral gutter system - I need a more clear understanding of your situation; perhaps you could send along some photos?
Meanwhile here is a general approach to replacing integral gutters with an aluminum fascia-mounted gutter:
The most common approaches to eaves trough gutter troubles are to repair and re-line the existing integral gutter, or to abandon it entirely. In our article above I describe a third approach suitable for historic restoration and where the existing integral gutter structure itself is in such bad condition that re-lining is not an option: in stead we reconstruct the original eaves trough design, making sure that the trough bottoms have adequate pitch to drain properly and adequate depth so as not to simply spill rainwater or snow-melt off of the roof edge.
Abandoning an Eaves Trough Gutter (which sounds like what you want)
When the integral gutter system is in very bad shape or when people are just sick of repairing and re-lining the eaes trough, or where the eaves trough has sagged so that it won't drain properly, just saying "fix it" can lead to a restoration job (like mine above) that is quite expensive. Then owners may consider how best to abandon the existing integral gutter system.
Often when a home has built-in gutters such as the types I've described, the roof structure or soffit flattens out at the eaves in order to contain the gutter system.
Adding an aluminum K gutter at the edge of that won't work (as you realize), because we still have that too-flat and probably leaky or even leaky and rotted eaves trough in place. But chopping off the roof soffit and built-in eaves trough just to add a K gutter is a lot of work that is unnecessary unless that structure is already so badly rotted that it can neither be repaired nor built-over (as I will describe below).
And chopping off the eaves trough structure or reducing the extent of eaves overhang at a home is usually a bad idea for various reasons:
loss of architectural detail that forms part of the value of the structure
overflowing gutters will send water right down or even into the building walls
there may be no remaining eaves overhang to use for roof ventilation intake openings
probably other complaints I've not thought of
If my preliminary image of your roof is right I'd think about leaving the built-in or integral gutter system in place, removing any water and debris in the gutters, drying out what remains, covering that over with plywood that extends at least 4 ft from the outer roof eaves edge up the roof slope so that we get some pitch at the lower roof eaves, then roofing over that using matching materials to what's on the upper roof slope. I'd include ice and water shield, and I'd be sure that I had a good drip edge, properly placed, so that roof runoff spills into the new fascia-attached gutter and downspout system.
Details for converting from integral gutter to aluminum gutters are at EAVES TROUGH GUTTER REPLACEMENT
Questions & answers or comments about how to build, install, maintain or repair eaves trough Roof gutters & their downspouts.
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Technical Reviewers & References
Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.