Installing Amerimax's 4' Solid PVC Gutter Covers
A little supplement to their instructions... and some comments!!
A note from NH:
I've written this article because I liked these gutter covers, but felt the
instructions supplied by Amerimax were a little too vague. Most decent
home handymen could work through the installation with their eyes closed , but
for those who are a little hesitant to try this themselves, I thought I would
try to clarify and expand on the "original". I'm not exactly
endorsing Amerimax... it's the only brand that was available for me locally, via
Home Depot and Lowes, but I'm thoroughly satisfied with the product. Hopefully this
article will be
helpful to you!! NH
A solid gutter cover you can install yourself... and
I'm sure you heard the advertisements for solid gutter covers and years of
use have made it obvious that these are the best option for most homes to
minimize the amount of debris that enters your gutters. I have installed
(and removed... and cleaned) all forms of perforated gutter covers...both metal and plastic...
over my 30 plus years of handymanship and have never found a design that would
keep as much debris out of the gutters as this style of gutter cover!
But the "Cadillac" systems that are being sold are quite expensive and out of
reach for most of us. This isn't because they are necessarily
overpriced (though "shopping the price" is in order if you decide to go "pro").
The reason they are more expensive per linear foot is simply because they are (1)
expensive aluminum, not
PVC and (2) installed
by a company that is paying its employees and not with "sweat equity"!
Do-it-yourself installation is the economical way to go, provided you are up to the job
and have the right tools!
Why are vinyl gutter covers better for the
Vinyl covers are easy to handle, have no sharp edges to cut you during
installation and can be installed with a few tools you can carry in your
pockets (assuming you don't work in your underwear, that is!) No saws or special metal cutting tools necessary. PVC gutter guards are
also light-weight, so you can carry a bunch up the ladder without breaking
a sweat and they won't get seriously damaged if you drop them off the edge of
the roof! Right... personal experience!!
Do they work as advertised?
I began thinking about writing this article two years ago, when I installed
these on my home. There were three sections I could not install
because the gutters were damaged (they won't clip properly on bent gutters), so I had to wait till I could replace the
gutters to install the rest. It's a good thing I waited, because it gave
me a better idea as to how well they worked year round in the Northeast, where
you have not only leaves but ice dams to contend with. And in my opinion
they more than passed the test!
Are they a permanent solution to blocked gutters, or
will I have to still clean the gutters?
It would be a stretch to say that you'll never need to do any gutter
cleaning. But the amount of cleaning should be minimal... a little
touch-up cleaning every few years. I call it "touch-up" because all you
would need to do it remove the gutter cover immediately over the
downspout, remove any accumulation of stuff, let the gutter drain
(if it's holding water) and replace the cover.
In my tips below I recommend a slight installation modification to make the
occasional gutter cleaning a simple matter!
Are these covers right for all homes?
No. If your home has an abundance of "dirty" trees that drop huge
amounts of needles and other stuff on your roof, gutter covers of
any type may not be up for the job. Solid covers will still
do a better job than screens, since screens catch an hold debris with a
vengeance. I would suggest trying these covers on a section of your
gutters as an experiment. They are inexpensive enough that, should they
not solve your problems, you can throw them away and not lose any sleep!!
Of course, if your home is surrounded closely by trees, your home is at risk
from all sorts of problems that go far beyond gutter blockages. Extreme
shade promotes extra moisture which promotes mold and mildew growth both on the
roof and within the walls. Asphalt shingle roof life is seriously
decreased by attack from molds and moss. Keeping trees reasonably set back from the home
will diminish gutter blockages as well as these other, more damaging
Here is my version of the installation process. This may vary slightly
depending on your own situation.
1) Tools needed:
- Snips or sturdy scissors
- Utility knife with a new, sharp blade.
- Adjustable or solid carpenter's square.
- Thin prybar.
2)You can work from the roof and lean over (my personal preference) if you don't
have problems with heights, or work from a ladder. Using a standoff on
your ladder is ideal, or lean the ladder underneath the gutter if possible.
(Again, your own home's design and the method of gutter hanging will determine
the safest method.
The gutter guards extend slightly beyond the edge of the gutter when they
snap into place, so they may hit the ladder. Also, it is very awkward to
slide the gutter covers underneath the shingles with the ladder right in your
3) I prefer to start from the edge of the
gutter furthest from the downspout and work towards the downspout. Be sure
the gutter is clean when you start and, if it's the fall season when you're
installing these (you procrastinator you!!), keep cleaning out the leaves
as you go.
4) Place the gutter guard in the gutter across the support brackets or spikes
and make location marks on the cover with your pencil.
Transfer these marks to the locking edge underneath the guard and cut out a notch wide enough
to allow the gutter guard to lock without hitting the support. I've tried
this with three different types of hangers and they all seem to interfere with the
locking mechanism, so do your trimming first.
5)Slide the gutter guard underneath the shingles. You may need to carefully
bend the shingles up a bit to loosen them from the roof deck if they stick.
Don't worry too much about any minor scuffs or tar marks on the gutter covers
since you won't be able to see them from the ground. If these marks really bother
you, a little mineral spirits (paint thinner) or lighter fluid (kerosene) will
remove them without damaging the PVC.
6) Slide the gutter cover forward till the clip is near the front of the
gutter. This is where I use the thin prybar. Slide it into the water
collection opening at the end of the gutter guard near the last guard installed
(or near the gutter end if it's your first) and nudge the cover forward till it
snaps onto the gutter. You may have to do a little twisting (of the pry
bar, not YOU, you dancin'' fool!). The gutter guards are flexible but sturdy so don't be
afraid to use a little force till they snap in place. Move the prybar
across the guard at about 6" intervals till the entire length is solidly clipped
in place. It is a pretty definite "snap" for common aluminum gutters.
7) Repeat this installation process with more sections of solid cover
untill you reach the other end of the gutter. The final piece
may turn out to be short depending on the length of the gutter, so you might want to make a
preliminary measurement and trim either the first piece installed or trim a
little off a few sections near
the end so the final piece isn't less than a foot or so in length.
8) THE FINAL PIECE IS YOUR EMERGENCY
CLEANOUT!! In the
event that the gutter becomes blocked, all you need to do is get to this last
cover, remove it and clear the blockage. This is one example where gravity
is your friend, causing stuff in the gutter to flow down to the downspout for
Special installation considerations
Amerimax has recently added the installation suggestion that you overlap the
guards at least 1-1/2".
Click here for a copy
of their instructions! Since my installation does not have any overlapping and has stood up fine, I
can only assume that Amerimax has received some complaints about the covers sagging at
the meeting edges. This is most likely to happen with wide 6" gutters, or
if you have very heavy accumulations of tree droppings. I'll leave it to
you to decide whether it's worth it taking the extra step!
Honestly, I think I may have overlapped them if I'd thought of it!
Be careful of your roof pitch and gutter height!
If you look at these covers, you'll notice that the front edge of the gutter
cover is about 1" higher than the front of the gutter. So if you have a
very low pitched roof, you must be sure that the top of the guard, when
installed, slopes downward from the roof. Otherwise, under heavy rain
conditions the water may backup under the shingles, leading to roof leaks or,
over time, rot!
Also, if the gutter is installed very high under the roof edge, you might
have this problem even if your roof has a good slope!
I suggest that, if you're in doubt, buy one
section and try it out in a few areas before buying for the entire job.
Those open ends of the gutter covers may
invite unwanted guests!
your gutter floats off the edge of your roof, you will have openings at either
or both ends of the covers. Birds (and occasionally insects) will love to
make nests within the safe, secure environment you have been so generous to
provide. If you don't want freeloaders living in your gutters, you
need to close the ends up.
instructions give you one option... score and bend the end pieces to
close the ends.
I tried this method and, though it works, in some circumstances you might want
to attach (as a separate piece) the end cover directly to the gutter either
before or after the covers are installed. The advantage is that you don't
have to fuss with the odd angles needs to make a neat fit (using Amerimax's
recommendation, that is).
Again, this depends on the design of your home and the way your gutters are
hung. In the example at the left, I used a piece of white aluminum
flashing cut to fit into the gutter but attached to the frame of the roof rather
than the gutter itself. You could also attach a waste piece of the PVC
gutter cover instead, though the aluminum is a little more rigid. Your
Amerimax's Solid PVC Gutter Cover is a quality alternative to perforated
screens (even their own) and, overall, should require less maintenance over its lifespan. I am
into my third fall season without a hint of blockage in any of my own gutters.
I can't say that this is the gutter cover for you, but it is definitely worth