How Long Do Gutters Last? Know the Lifespan of the Different Types

Melissa Graham
Written by Melissa Graham
Reviewed by Jose Figueroa
Updated December 2, 2022
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Photo: Mr Twister / Adobe Stock

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If you live in an area where it rains cats and dogs, you need long-lasting gutters to protect your home and its foundation. But how long do gutters last? The average lifespan of gutters is around 20 years, but depending on the gutter material and whether you go seamless, they can last as long as 100 years. Read on to learn about the lifespan of various gutter types and how to help them last for years to come.

Gutter Lifespan by Material

How long your gutters will last depends largely on what they’re made of. For example, vinyl gutters have the shortest lifespan, lasting 10 to 15 years, while more sturdy materials such as copper can last up to 100 years. However, just because it’s the most durable material doesn’t mean copper is the right gutter choice for your home—plus, they’re quite pricey. To narrow down the best options, it’s best to talk to an experienced contractor who can recommend the right fit for you. 

Aluminum: 25 years

Zinc: 50 years

Galvanized Stainless Steel: 15–20 years 

Stainless Steel: 50 years

Vinyl: 10–15 years

Wood: 20–50 years

Copper: 100 years 

“Ultimately, the more expensive the materials, often the longer lasting the gutter system,” says Jose Figueroa, Expert Review Board member and crew supervisor and sales representative at Artisan Quality Roofing in Apex, North Carolina. “However, unless you plan to live in your home for more than 20 years, seamless aluminum is an affordable, reliable option.”

How Do You Maximize the Lifespan of Gutters?

close of grey zinc gutters
Photo: Bokeh Art Photo / Adobe Stock

To ensure your gutters reach their maximum lifespan, stay on top of cleaning and maintenance. This means cleaning your gutters at least two to four times a year, especially if you have several trees in your yard. You can also install gutter guard systems, which prevent debris from collecting in your gutters and eliminate the need to clean them regularly. If you notice any signs of damage to your gutters, call in a local gutter repair contractor ASAP to avoid any further damage.

Clean Your Gutters

To increase your gutters’ lifespan, clean them regularly. Ideally, you’ll want to clean your gutters twice a year, but you may need to do it up to four times a year. If you want to ensure the gutters are cleaned properly, hire a gutter cleaning service near you.

Gutter Guards

If you have several tall trees near your home, you can install gutter guards to help keep gutters free from debris. 

“Another way to extend the life of your gutters is to install quality gutter guards,” says Figueroa. “They keep debris out of the gutters—which can deteriorate and damage the gutters—and allow for proper water flow.”

Reapplying Sealants 

You can also reapply gutter sealant to help improve their durability. This includes reapplying a seal to the gutters every five to 10 years, though you may need to reapply more often if you live in areas with heavy rain or snow.

When Is It Time to Replace Gutters?

If your gutters are cracked, leaking, overflowing, or not flowing at all, it is likely time to replace them. The best way to get a look at your gutters at work is to walk around the exterior of your home while it’s raining. This way, you can observe any trouble spots or see just how well (or not!) your gutters are doing their job. Other signs it’s time to replace your gutters are if they’re sagging, if nearby watermarks are present, or if the paint around the gutters is chipping.

Frequently Asked Questions

Clogged gutters are one of the most common problems homeowners will face, since excess debris from trees or other outside elements can prevent water from passing through properly. Other common problems include leaks and holes, which can usually be repaired with gutter sealant or caulk, as well as damaged gutters from strong storms or improperly pitched gutters.

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