Eaves trough integral roof gutter hanger (C) Daniel Friedman Integral or Eaves Trough Gutters

  • EAVES TROUGH, INTEGRAL GUTTERS - CONTENTS: Eaves trough gutter design, inspection, repair, rebuild, relining or conversion to fascia-mounted gutters. Details & illustrations of how to rebuild or repair eaves trough or integral roof gutter systems. Where do leaks and problems occur on eaves trough or integral roof gutters?
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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. With photos and text we describe step by step the construction of an integral gutter built into the roof surface or into roof eaves, soffit, or overhang. We explain how to cut gutter parts to achieve proper slope and how the gutter is lined with copper, other metal, EPDM rubber, or modified bitumen to give a durable leak-proof roof drainage system.

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Built-In Roof Gutters, Eaves Troughs, or Integral Gutters: definition, features, repairs

Gutter and Downspout Details (C) Carson Dunlop Associates

This article series discusses how to choose, install, diagnose & maintain roof gutters & downspouts, & roof drainage systems to prevent building leaks and water entry.

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We encounter confusion among names for types of on-roof gutter systems that were common on 19th and early 20th century buildings, particularly folks mix up "eaves trough" gutters and "yankee gutters" - that we describe here.

Integral gutter = eaves trough gutter = built-in gutter: the gutter is built into the roof structure itself as a trough (see illustration below).

Eaves trough gutters may project forward from the lower roof edge (shown in the sketch below) or they may be virtually hidden from view from ground level when they are built into the slope of the roof. Sketch courtesy of Carson Dunlop Associates.

Eaves trough gutters appealed to architects because they may be hidden entirely from view, or when designed as a projecting eave (sketch at left), they form an architectural element.

Originally eaves trough gutters were lined with terne metal, lead plated tin, or copper, and joints were usually soldered. These installations were durable, often lasting 50 years or more, but especially when exposed to acidic water from accumulated leaves in a gutter that was not maintained, their metal lining corrodes through. [Details about terne metal used on buildings are at TERNE METAL ROOFING.]

A leak in any built in or built-on roof gutter causes more damage to the above-ground building structure than a modern aluminum or copper "K" or rounded gutter that is simply tacked to the very roof edge or fascia.

That's because a leaky eaves trough gutter (or yankee gutter as we describe below) leaks into the building structure itself, rotting the fascia and often inviting rot or insect damage to the building wall below as well.

Repair Methods for Eaves Trough or Integral Roof Gutters

Gutter and Downspout Details (C) Carson Dunlop Associates

The sketch at left, courtesy of Carson Dunlop Associates demonstrates a method that we (DF) used regularly when restoring and repairing old houses: the eaves trough gutter was re-lined using a liner made of single ply membrane, or made using a torch-down modified bitumen liner.

Watch out: if you are going to use any heat-based gutter repair approach such as soldering or using a torch-down modified bitumen gutter liner there is risk that you'll set the building on fire.

When we used torch-down modified bitumen to repair eaves trough gutters we stationed an observer inside the building attic as well as on the ground below, and we had fire extinguishing devices or a water hose immediately at hand.

These worries explain why some gutter repair companies prefer to use glued-up single ply membrane.

Watch out: if your glued-up single ply membrane gutter repair is not installed perfectly, the seams may leak into the structure just as did the old gutter.

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.

Eaves Trough or Integral Gutter (C) Daniel Friedman Eaves Trough or Integral Gutter (C) Daniel Friedman

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.

Eaves Trough or Integral Gutter (C) Daniel Friedman Eaves Trough or Integral Gutter (C) Daniel Friedman

See PORCH COLUMN REPAIR or REPLACEMENT for a discussion of repairs to the porch columns that were damaged from leaks in the gutters on this porch.


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