I’ve been spending some time this summer with folks that have gutter problems. The past winter was a banner season in Northeast Ohio for ice dams. As a result, a lot of gutters were bent or damaged, and sometimes the entire fascia board and gutter system came down.
Most gutters in our area were installed using spikes (long nails) and ferrules (hollow tubes spanning the width of the gutter, through which the spikes pass). The spikes are generally spaced approximately 3 to 4 feet apart and are nailed into a fascia board that is only ¾” thick. (Many gutters are still being installed using spikes.) The problem with spikes is that they often back out of the fascia board, allowing the gutter to pull away from the house. So, with a heavy snowfall, the gutter may pull off the house entirely.
Using a hidden hanger system helps avoid this problem. The hangers hook under the front lip of the gutter and slip over the back gutter wall (see illustration). They are installed using screws that go into the wood 1-1/2 inches. Because the screw is driven home using a ¼” nut driver on a cordless drill, the gutter is also spared the hammer damage that can occur from driving in a spike. Screwing a hidden hanger into each rafter tail (generally 16” on center) will ensure that the gutter can resist the weight of water, snow and ice.