How To Replace Gutter Spikes With Screws

As spring approaches and you lift your head to feel the warm sunlight on your face, take a look at your gutters. They've probably been through a lot of stress and strain from accumulated snow and ice. The extra weight may have caused them to sag or pull away from the exterior wall.

Spring is a good time to replace your old gutter spikes (nails) with screws, which provide additional stability for gutters under stress. It's simple to do if you don't have a problem with working from extension ladders.

Since you'll be working on your gutters, you should also take the time to clean them before positioning them and installing the gutter screws.

What you will need

Gutter cleaning tool

This tool resembles a small hand spade, and is invaluable for cleaning narrow gutters, unless you enjoy picking up wet leaves, sediment, and other assorted debris with your hands.

Gutter screws and screw chuck

Gutter screws require a special screw chuck for your drill, which is usually included in multi-packs of screws. These packs also contain the ferrules, which are narrow tubes through which the screws are inserted. Ferrules fit inside the gutters to keep them from being crushed as the screws are tightened.

Cordless drill (or corded drill and a long extension cord)

You'll need this to install the screws. 

Roofing cement spray (white)

This is optional, but useful if you see a spot on the exterior wall that may have sustained minor water damage. 

Claw hammer or pry bar

You will need one of these to pull out the 7 inch long gutter spikes. You should also get a small length of 4 X 4 inch wood to place in the gutter as you extract the spikes to keep the gutter from being damaged.

Stick level

You will need this to be certain that the gutters are pitched slightly downward toward the downspout.

Checking the gutter pitch

If the pitch is correct, you can install the screws as you remove the gutter spikes. Place the stick level atop the gutter, and if the bubble is slightly away from the center in the opposite direction from the downspout, then your pitch is correct.

However, if the gutter is level or pitched downward away from the downspout, you will need to remove all spikes first and pitch the gutter correctly.

Removing the gutter spikes and stalling the screws

Before using your hammer or pry bar, place the piece of wood in the gutter, as close to the ferrule as possible. Be careful if you need to extract the sake forcefully, because you may lose your balance and take a tumble off the ladder.

If the spike is already protruding out of the gutter, or is easily removed, remove the ferrule from inside the gutter and spray some roofing cement into the spike hole before replacing the ferrule and inserting the gutter screw.

Don't spray too much cement, because it will run down the side of the exterior wall and it's difficult to remove.

If you're unsure of your abilities or uneasy on extension ladders, you can always call a local roofing company like Grissom Contracting. While it's satisfying to do home improvement chores yourself, you need to pick your battles. Falls from roofs have defeated many home improvement warriors