The most common reasons for your gutters to fail are due to material selection, incorrect installation, and prolonged maintenance and cleaning.
Many gutter installers purchase steel gutter coil as it allows them to offer their customers a lower cost product. Steel material may offer a better price and it has good strength, but on the flip side is that steel will rust, corrode, paint will chip or peel away, and is almost three times heavier than aluminum. In a few years down the road the homeowner will be dealing with replacement, so for 10-15% more in quality materials the outcome would be completely different.
Gutter Spikes (Spike and Farrel)
Another way for a gutter installer to lower the price of the gutters is by using Spike and Farrels to attach the gutters to the home. The problem with gutter spikes is that they work loose within 1-5 years due to expansion and contraction as the nail has very little holding power. In addition spikes are usually installed every 4 feet which is not enough to handle the weight of the gutter and the weight of water and ice build up.
This is probobly the most important part to having new gutters installed on to your home. If the gutters are not pitched at a proper pitch the water will stand in the bottom of the gutter and debris will build up and cause your gutters to either have water pouring over the top, or in the winter it will cause larger ice dams and problems. It is also important to have the hidden hanger brackets screwed in at about every 2 feet for strength and durability. Also need to make sure that the gutter installer uses outlets to attach the downspouts to the gutter, some gutter installers cut little flang to screw into which weakens the gutter and causes the bottom of the gutter to rip from where it was cut. Another thing is to make sure that the downspouts are fastened to the home with enough screws or cement anchors if in brick so the downs will not pull away with winds or other issues. If seamless rain gutters or any other type of rain gutter, if installed correct should last a minimum of 20 - 30 years.
Gutters can have their lifespan cut by up to 70% if they are not kept clean of debris which can cause gutter clogs. If gutters are clogged and full to the top the create additional weight that results in stress on the miters, end caps, and spikes or hangers. Excess weight of water or ice build up, can cause gutters to leak at the end caps, seams and corners due to increased pressure which can cause considerable damage if not fixed in time. If gutters are not cleaned properly the gutter debris will begin to break down. The water becomes acidic and the gutter material begins to corrode and if left inthis state can cause permanent damage to the material and cause you to have your gutters replaced sooner.
The best way to avoid these problems is to make aluminum your material of choice, also avoid gutter spikes all together and choose "hidden Hangers" with screws placed every 2 feet to provide optimal gutter holding power. Also select a contractor who provides these choices and then combines them with a written installation warranty of at least 5 years. Perhaps your initial cost for the gutters will be slightly more, but in the long run it will save you hundreds of dollars. Whether you clean the gutters yourself or have them cleaned keep on top of the debris that collects in your gutters. Another great way to eliminate gutter cleaning is to purchase Quality Gutter Covers or Guards along with your gutters.