Category Archives: Do It Yourself

Rain Chains Cost, Materials, DIY Options & Styles

Rain chains demonstrate a beautiful blend of decorative form and useful function. Instead of water traveling from your roof through a closed downspout, rain chains allow you to enjoy rainwater’s pleasing sound and aesthetics, like a babbling brook cascading downward.

Rain Chains DIY Installation

via Hallmark Channel

In Japan, where rain chains had their origin, they are a common element of traditional building design. Gutters are viewed as too utilitarian to use when the function can be handled by something that also enhances the beauty of the structure. — That view is spreading, and the popularity of rain chains is growing in North America and around the world.

This buying guide provides a comprehensive overview of rain chain styles, materials, options, installation methods, costs, and DIY options.

The Basics

If you’re unfamiliar with rain chains, or kusari doi in Japanese, lets discuss their anatomy.

  • An adapter or bracket is attached to the gutter in place of a downspout
  • The rain chain hangs from it
  • The chain is anchored by a basin, stake or weight

These three essential components might be sold separately, but many top manufacturers produce kits with everything included.

Cost

There is a wide range of rain chain prices, but they can be loosely grouped into these four categories that have some overlap:

  • $15-$50 | Cheap rain chains, fine chains, small design elements spaced widely, most often painted or coated steel or aluminum.
  • $45-$90 | Good-quality rain chains, larger and more design elements, most often copper, but some are brass, aluminum or stainless steel.
  • $80-$215 | High-quality rain chains, large, complex design elements, most often copper or stainless steel, a bottom bowl might be included.
  • $200-$700 | Best-quality rain chains, quite ornate, copper and stainless steel designs, often with a basin and stake included. The very finest rain chains are imported from Japan and cost in the upper end of this range.

How Much Do Accessories Cost?

The accessory options are weights, basins and stakes:

  • Rain chain stakes: $10-$16
  • Rain chain weights: $25-$50
  • Rain chain basins: $35-$150 depending on the size, material and whether they’ve been handcrafted

Most Popular Styles

  • Chain links are interspersed with artistically designed cups or other features such as birds, leaves or flowers at intervals of a few inches to as much as a foot apart.
  • Most rain chain cups have holes in the bottom to allow water to pass through. Other chains are produced with shallow cups, and the rainwater fills the cup and spills over into the cup below.
  • Single links or another type of connector are used to hold each cup to the one above it, so that the rain chain is really a series of cups with little or no chainwork.
  • The rain chain is a series of decoratively fashioned links or loops, often of varying size and artfully interwoven, with no cups at all.

Because of the artistic nature of rain chain design, these three basic styles are produced in nearly limitless variations and combinations.

via Eichler Network

Traditionally, rain chains were crafted from metal, and most still are.

Most Popular Materials:

  • Copper: This is the traditional material choice of rain chain artisans. The copper must be polished regularly if you wish it to maintain its gleam. Most copper rain chains are allowed to develop an appealing patina finish that changes as the copper ages.
  • Steel: This is another traditional metal. Make sure any steel rain chain you consider is coated or painted to prevent rust, though corrosion is probably inevitable.
  • Stainless steel: This corrosion-resistant metal is often used by itself or in a rain chain design with copper.
  • Aluminum: More affordable than stainless, aluminum is durable and will develop a light patina too.
  • Brass: This material is a staple of plumbing fixtures because it resists corrosion. It’s an attractive choice for rain chains too.

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Gutter Guard Installation Cost 2019 – Are Leaf Guards Worth It?

Gutter guards (aka leaf covers for gutters) are an attractive idea to homeowners whose homes are surrounded by large trees. Plenty of marketing dollars go into promoting gutter guards, but are they really worth the money?

In this guide, we cover the cost to install gutter leaf guards, their pros and cons, and alternative approaches — to help you decide whether or not gutter guards make sense for your home.

Right off the bat: Gutter guards will not completely eliminate the need for gutter cleaning. That said, to have new gutter guards professionally installed, it will cost you between $7.50 and $12.00 per sq. ft.

You should know a couple realities from the start, though: Gutter covers WILL reduce the frequency of gutter cleaning, but they WON’T completely eliminate it.

Depending on how many trees are in your landscape or backyard surrounding your property, expect to clean your gutters about one-third to one-half as often as you did before.

It’s impossible to keep fine tree debris out of the gutters. The debris will build up over time. Seeds might sprout, and you’ll have significant clog issues if you don’t clean the gutters.

Did you know? When your gutters eventually need to be cleaned, the job will be more difficult and time-consuming because you’ll have to clean the gutter guards and the gutters.

Depending on the type of guards you install, removing them before cleaning the gutters might be a necessary extra step in the process.

Three Gutter Guard Installation Options

You’ve got three options for gutter guard installation:

DIY installation: You buy the product at your local Wall Mart, Lowe’s, or Home Depot and install it yourself ($-$$)

Pro installation of the product you buy or select: You hire a handyman service or gutter guard company to install the product of your choice ($$-$$$)

Pro installation of a proprietary product: You hire a company to install its own brand of gutter guards ($$$-$$$$)

How Much Do Gutter Guards Cost?

The features of the gutter cover types are listed below. First, here’s what you can expect to pay based on the three options for gutter guard installation we just listed. All costs are in linear feet:

Material Costs:

  • Plastic screen gutter guard: $.20-$.40 (20-40 cents)
  • Aluminum perforated gutter covers: $.50-$1.25
  • Steel screen gutter guard: $1.50-$3.00
  • Foam gutter guard: $2.00-$3.25
  • Micro-mesh steel gutter guard: $2.25-$4.00
  • Brush gutter guard: $3.15-$4.25
  • Solid-surface gutter guard (helmets): $3.50-$6.25

Professional installation cost when you purchase the materials: $1.85-$3.75

Full-service professional installation — materials supplied and installed by a gutter guard company: $7.50-$12.00

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Top 15 Ice Dam Prevention and Removal Products, plus Costs

Homeowners know that unsightly ice dams are what often follows a major snowstorm and onset of low temperatures.

The resulting damage from ice dams to the roof and the rest of the house can easily cost thousands of dollars, especially if the snow is allowed to remain on the affected roof for a long time. 🙁

What Causes Ice Dams?

When the snow falls onto your roof, it can melt when it comes into contact with warmer surfaces of the roof. — This happens when the warm air and heat escapes from your home through the attic floor and rises up to the peak of the roof, which is what causes the melting of the snow.

attic-insulation-and-ventilation Source: Sunshine Contracting

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When the melted water reaches the colder eaves of the roof, it refreezes forming a wall of ice, which blocks the runoff of the rest of melted snow.

Thus, the melted water has no where to runoff but to rise up underneath the shingles, which is how it can get inside your home, damaging not only the roof shingles in the process, but also causing major long-term damage to the walls and insulation in your abode. 🙁

Understanding the Extent of the Damage Caused by Ice Dams:

You’ll see gutters torn and damaged, shingles that are broken and falling off, and even paint that’s peeling. What you may not see is the underlying damage to the deck and in the attic including wet insulation, which can become moldy, damaged sheet-rock in the walls, and major wood and plaster rotting issues.

As you can guess, preventing ice dams in the first place, or removing them as quickly as possible is essential for the well being of your property. 😉


With so many ice melting and snow removal products on the market, here is a look at the top fifteen preventive measures:

Preventive Measures:

  1. Snow Rake – It’s important to remove snow from your roof before it has the time to melt and refreeze. At the same time, you have to be careful not to damage the shingles that lie underneath. They often come with rollers along the bottom to prevent damage to the roof when you’re removing the snow. Some snow rakes feature a metal rod to help cut snow when it has hardened and make the removal easier.

Upfront Expense: An average cost of snow rakes is between $50 and $100, which is an affordable option for most property owners.

snow-rakes-ice-dams-removal

Pros: easy DIY project, inexpensive

Cons: Must get on a ladder every time there’s a major snowstorm

  1. Ice Melting Heat Cables – This product is one of the most popular options for preventing ice dams, however it does not make it the best long-term option. You must access onto the roof eaves in order to install the cables. It’s recommended to place them in a zigzag pattern along the lower edge of the roof as well as near the gutters. Many homeowners hire a contractor to do the work, but it is possible to do it yourself, if you are comfortable with working at heights and using the ladder.

Upfront Expense: The price for heat cables may range from $50 to $100, plus the cost of installation, which can be significant if you hire a specialist. In fact, you can expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500 for a professional installation of a self-regulating ice-melting heating-cable system.

ice-melting-cables

Pros: effective when installed correctly

Cons: doesn’t prevent ice dams, just creates a run-off for water. may require hiring a professional electrician to ensure the installation is carried out in a safe manner. Cables must be manually turned on or set on a timer.


  1. Blown-in Attic Insulation – Preventing heat loss in the attic to improve energy efficiency is only one reason to increase the amount of insulation you have. Blown-in insulation is the easiest method, and a straightforward process for DIY homeowners. You just have to purchase the insulation and rent a machine to blow it in.

Upfront Expense: The cost depends on how much square footage you’re covering, but it can average around $700 to $800 for 1,000 square feet. If you choose to go this route, make sure you leave the soffit vents unblocked!

Pros: effective for preventing heat loss, inexpensive and easy to install

Cons: none

  1. Ventilation Upgrade – Poor ventilation is the cause of many issues with heat loss and ice dams. Certain types of roofs are more susceptible to this problem, but it can be fixed with bringing your attic’s ventilation to an adequate level. The type of vent needed will depend on the exact situation, but you may need a ridge vent, if your roof has soffit vents, or soffit repairs for blocked soffit intakes. — This can sometimes be the unintentional result of poorly-done attic floor insulation. You’ll have to consult a professional to properly remedy any major attic ventilation issues.

Upfront Expense: Expect to pay between $1,500 and $2,000 for a new ridge vent, or several hundred dollars to re-open the soffit vents if they are blocked.

Pros: permanent resolution

Cons: more expensive, must be done by a professional, only partially solves the problem

  1. Ice Belt Metal Panels – Many roofs are made of shingles, which work well to remove water until it starts to travel upward. To take a more pro-active approach in preventing ice dams, you can install ice belt metal panels, which are installed along the eaves to block water. They are often made of aluminum and sold in short panels of about three to four feet in length. You would need to remove a few rows of shingles from the eaves of the roof in order to install the ice belt metal panels.

Upfront Expense: The cost is about $45 to $70 per linear foot of ice belt metal panels installed. If you choose to go this route, it’s best to install them before you put a new roof on, but it can be done at any point as long as your asphalt roof is still in good shape.

copper-ice-belt Source: Melanson


Pros: doesn’t require an electrician to install, no ongoing expenses

Cons: ice-belt metal panels are rather expensive to install and will likely require hiring a professional installer such as a roofing company with access to sheet metal fabrication shop

  1. Metal Roof – Solve all of your ice dam problems with a new metal roof. While this isn’t a cheap solution, it does offer long-term benefits. Metal tiles or shingle are an option along with the continuous standing seam panels.

Upfront Expense: A typical new metal roof can cost between $10,000 to $25,000, depending on the size and location of your property. The cost will be higher for larger, steeper, and more complex roofs.

Pros: energy-efficient and cost-efficient, long-term solution, solves the problem of ice dams

Cons: expensive, requires professional installation

  1. Integrated Heating/Ice Melting Panels – This professional-grade product will last for a long time, but they are expensive to buy and install. They can add quite a bit to your monthly utility costs, because they are plugged into an electrical source. This solution is mainly for those homes which have not had much success with other methods or if you want a long-term system and you aren’t worried about ongoing costs.

Upfront Expense: Average price is $20 or more per foot for these systems, plus the cost of installation. You may consider a system such as the one offered by HotEdge to melt snow on roof edges, valleys and along the gutter and downspouts.

Note: Lifetime total cost can range widely because of the monthly electricity costs. Expect to spend thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the product.

HotEdge-HotShingleLOK


Pros: effective, protects the roof

Cons: expensive, requires professional installation and must be set on a timer or turned on to work

  1. Caulk to Seal Air Leaks – A simple, but effective fix for some of the warm leak issues. Caulk can be applied around vent pipes and electrical cables to prevent warm air from escaping.

Upfront Expense: The product itself is rather inexpensive, costing less than $5 a tube.

Pros: inexpensive, DIY project

Cons: Only takes care of specific areas. It may be difficult to locate all the sources of warm air leaks without the help of professional. The attic space must also be adequately insulated and ventilated in order for air leak sealing to really make a decisive difference.

  1. Chimney Flashing – Another vulnerable area for ice dams is around the chimney. Purchasing flashing to cover the area where the stones or bricks meet the roof will help prevent ice dams from forming. L-shaped flashing made of steel can be installed by a homeowner or a roofer.

Upfront Expense: Expect to pay just a few hundred dollars if you hire a pro. Do it on your own, and costs will range from $20 to $350.

chimney-flashing Source: Runyon and Sons Roofing

Pros: inexpensive even if you go the route of hiring a professional

Cons: only takes care of water leaking in one area

  1. Water Repellent Membrane / Ice and Water Shield – This product will not prevent ice dams from happening, but it will help minimize the damage by shielding the roof deck. When installing a new roof or replacing the old one, consider adding a water repellent membrane such as Ice and Water Shield underneath the shingles. This added layer prevents water from getting inside your home when the ice and snow melt.

Upfront Expense: The cost of this membrane is added in to the total cost of installing a new roof, which can range from $5,000 to $8,000.

Pros: effective at preventing water damage

Cons: expensive, can only be installed with a new roof

  1. Insulated Caps – Covering heat sources to prevent them from allowing heat into the attic can be an effective way to prevent ice dams. Some common concerns include the attic fan and openings for folding stairs.

Upfront Expense: Insulated caps can cost less than $100 and are often something you can install yourself.

Pros: inexpensive, takes care of specific areas

Cons: will require other methods to resolve the entire problem of ice dams

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