Working with a roof can be quite a headache for homeowners. Renovating or repairing a roof can be costly, get quite long, and can rarely be fixed in a DIY fashion. As much as possible, we want to reduce the hassle that sometimes comes with home projects, but at the same time, we have to make sure that we’re doing things safely and correctly.
You can replace a roof without removing gutters as long as the gutter is not directly attached to any part of your roof that needs to be replaced and is not blocking anything that needs to be sealed. Having gutters removed usually makes it easier to inspect and repair the other parts of your roof.
Most homeowners choose to have their gutters replaced along with their roofs, but this is usually done because their gutters are already broken down. If you have recently installed gutters and don’t have any problems with them, that’s when you can opt to keep them on while replacing your roof.
Can you replace roof without replacing gutters?
The answer to this question is highly dependent on one key factor: How is your gutter installed, and where is it located on your roof’s design.
Gutters are often attached to roofs in a way that obstructs access to certain parts of the roof that needs to be checked on when doing a project, such as a roof replacement.
TIP: If you’re only planning on replacing one aspect of your roof because of aesthetic reasons, then leaving the gutters on should be fine.
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With that, we’re assuming that you’re simply changing the roof’s finish. Another scenario is if you plan on reworking your roof to accommodate solar panels, which shouldn’t affect the gutters at all.
If you’re planning on replacing your roof for functional reasons such as leaking, lack of drainage, stack effect, etc., that’s probably when you should remove your gutters.
Just like any other part of your home, there’s a system in place that supports a roof’s functions(such as draining water). To make this “system” work, you’ll need to have all the parts match each other so that they can properly function together.
What Are Gutters, and How Are They Installed?
With all these talks about gutters, we should get into a brief section explaining what they are, how they’re constructed, and how they work in supporting the functionality of your roof.
Gutters: A brief overview
Gutters can be described as an “open pipe” that collects water and expels it to other areas. It may not sound like much, but gutters play an essential role in avoiding water damage.
REMEMBER: If water is not collected and redirected from your roof, it can end up trickling down along your walls, windows and directly onto any outdoor spaces that you may have.
As we all know, building materials tend to deteriorate if they’re constantly exposed to water. With gutters, your house is better weatherproofed and in some cases, the collected water can even be used by your plumbing fixtures(like for flushing water).
Gutters: How are they installed?
Firstly, gutters are only installed on parts of the roof that will trickle down water, which is the ends of the sloped portions of your roofs. Water doesn’t just go out of its way, and it consistently behaves in a way that it will always end up following this path.
Gutters are often directly attached to the fascia board. A fascia board can be found at the roof’s end and attached to the roof’s rake (which is a structural member that the roof is linked to).
Not all fascia boards are directly connected to the rake, and it’s in these instances, there’s more leeway to allow gutters to remain while a roof is being replaced.
Aside from the fascia board, your gutter will also be connected to the insulative sheet/barrier underneath your roof’s shingles. This part of the gutter is called gutter flashing and is there to make sure that all the water goes to your gutter by providing “sealant” between your roof and your gutter.
How Does Roof Replacement Usually Go?
Having an idea of how a roof replacement goes is also essential. It’s a good practice to look up and research any home renovations you plan on doing, and it’ll help you make decisions such as whether or not to keep the gutters on during replacement.
Contractors will first remove your current roof’s shingles piece by piece until nothing’s left. Afterwhich, they’ll begin doing some inspection work to see if the frame of your roof and if the ice/water barrier is still in good condition.
Once everything’s been inspected and repaired, the contractor will begin laying out an asphalt sheet for your new roof. From there, flashing is installed, and as we mentioned earlier, it’s usually a piece of metal that acts as a “sealant” to remove any gaps that can be found in your roof( Ex. Between the roof and the gutter, around chimneys, around the vent pipes, etc.).
Now that sealing work is done, the roof itself can finally be installed. The length of this step depends on the type of roof you’re going for, such as tile, shingles, metal, and slate.
A ridge vent, the ridge is the part of the roof where the peaks meet, is installed to allow air to escape from your attic.
NOTE: As a recommendation, it’s much more practical to focus on your roof replacement rather than how it will affect your gutters. Here’s an article I wrote on why roof repairs are of utmost importance.
Gutters are much easier to install, and it’s a lot less complicated to make adjustments for them to work with your roof in expelling water rather than the other way around.
It’s better to have your gutters removed while having your roof replaced because it gives contractors more leeway and options while working on this type of project.
Although you can opt to keep your gutters on, it will entail that your new roof will have to adjust for it to match your gutter’s current design and for it to expel water properly.