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Solar Roof Gutter Replacement

trautmane2

Member
Jul 13, 2019
248
172
Leesburg, VA
As I get closer to my solar roof install next month, I've started thinking more about gutter replacement. Gutter replacement is no longer included by Tesla (as it was for @jboy210 - Which gutters would/did you pick for a Solarglass roof?). Other later solar roof posters (like @wjgjr - Maryland Post-Intall Activities) all seem to have chosen to have a 3rd party replace their gutters at the same time as their roof install. My Tesla advisor informed me that is is technically possible for the solar roof install to be completed without replacing existing gutters. So my first question ...

Is there anyone here that has installed a solar roof without replacing their gutters (and if so, how did it work out)?

My 20 year old gutters seem to be in reasonable shape, however I do have this one area that becomes a problem only during the heaviest storms:

gutter-issue.jpg

Water from the upper roof spills onto the lower roof and then pours over the edge of the lower roof gutter onto our deck. You can see the dented area in the lower roof gutter (red arrow). My gutters are 5-inch K Style. Recommendations for 6-inch gutters on @jboy210 's thread, his comments about solar glass shedding water more quickly than traditional roofs, and my desire to fix my problem area have me considering replacement (though the cost of that might scare me away).

I'd be interested to hear any other thoughts/opinions/experiences that might help with this decision process.

I'm also curious if anyone has ideas about the fix for my problem area. My current thought is that a larger gutter (6-inch) plus a direct pipe from the upper roof (where I drew the yellow line in the photo) might do the trick.

As always - thanks for your input!
 

jboy210

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Dec 2, 2016
5,386
3,340
Northern California
The water runs off a solarroof quickly so you need to factor that in. Our home has a gutter system I believe is similar to what you propose and it works fine. See the picture. We ended up with the 4" gutters, not the 6" and they are fine. But having lived in Williamsburg, VA I do remember having much harder rainstorms back there.

BTW, where is the current gutter drainpipe, and what is it's size?

front-gutter.jpg
 

BGbreeder

Member
Jun 19, 2020
364
226
Bay Area
That upper roof layout is always going to be a challenge. Getting a downspout on that upper gutter, preferably with an elbow or two before it dumps into your lower gutter will help somewhat.(Slows the speed/force of the rain water.) Elbows will also get the water into the lower gutter and moving the right direction.

I do think it is important to distinguish between the speed that water comes off a roof versus the total amount. A solar roof will shed water more quickly, but at the end of the day, it is the same volume of water. If 5" gutters work for you now, then there is no need to upgrade to 6" gutters, unless the roof is so steep that the rain water overshoots the gutter. (I realize that you currently have one gutter that doesn't work, yet.) Overshoot is a height of gutter, and a width of gutter issue. A gutter that is too low will not catch heavy/fast flows, nor will a gutter that is too narrow. I would look into how large your downspouts are, and whether they need to be upgraded in size, which translates into being better able to handle larger flows.

I hope that this helps.

All the best,

BG
 
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wjgjr

Active Member
May 11, 2020
1,300
1,034
Silver Spring, MD
Just to clarify, Tesla subcontracted out our gutter replacement work, but it was included in the price they quoted us, and we knew it was being subcontracted. In our case, that is because our existing gutter guard system was incompatible with the solar roof due to how the guards were secured to the roof. So the actual order of operations was 1) teardown of old roof and removal of gutters by subcontractor, 2) installation of solar roof, 3) installation of new gutters by gutter subcontractor. The nice thing about this process was that Tesla also replaced any damaged fascia (and with a house over 75 years old, there were certainly areas to repair.) As I recall, our gutters are 6" K-style gutters, and we have had no issues so far, even with the very heavy rain we have gotten this summer in the DC area.

If Tesla indicates your gutters do not need to be replaced in order to install your roof, I guess maybe they don't want to deal with subcontracting that. My thought is doing it now has the advantage of not having to have anybody working up on your new roof (this was not an issue for us with our roof layout) but I would be concerned about the new gutters in some way being incompatible with the new roof, particularly if you are adding new downspouts from the upper to lower roof. (And if you are including gutter guards of any sort, be certain Tesla approves them.) Waiting ensures you won't have that issue, but do make sure the gutter replacement company is properly insured and understands the roof type. I believe the biggest concern is really not so much the walking but dropping things or trying to anchor ladders (plus being aware of the slippery nature of the roof when wet.) Waiting also means you can see how your gutters perform with the new roof before making a decision.

As to your question on the existing gutter, I am certainly not an expert, but it does seem like a downspout where you showed it would work. Something else I have seen (though new clue if it is actually effective) is people who have put a taller piece of metal where all that water is hitting your lower gutter (and, I assume, caused that dent.)
 

trautmane2

Member
Jul 13, 2019
248
172
Leesburg, VA
BTW, where is the current gutter drainpipe, and what is it's size?]

The drainpipe for the lower roof gutter is at the opposite end of what you see in the picture (guessing that gutter runs for 30 feet). I quickly measured the drain pipe as 4'' x 2'', but when I look online I only see 4x3 and 3x2 options, so maybe it is 4x3.

We ended up with the 4" gutters, not the 6" and they are fine.

Good to know - thanks. Any reason you chose 4'' over 6''? Cost or looks or ... ?
 

trautmane2

Member
Jul 13, 2019
248
172
Leesburg, VA
That upper roof layout is always going to be a challenge. Getting a downspout on that upper gutter, preferably with an elbow or two before it dumps into your lower gutter will help somewhat.(Slows the speed/force of the rain water.) Elbows will also get the water into the lower gutter and moving the right direction.

Ok thanks - I hadn't thought about how elbows might help.

If 5" gutters work for you now, then there is no need to upgrade to 6" gutters, unless the roof is so steep that the rain water overshoots the gutter. (I realize that you currently have one gutter that doesn't work, yet.) Overshoot is a height of gutter, and a width of gutter issue. A gutter that is too low will not catch heavy/fast flows, nor will a gutter that is too narrow.

I think the rain is overshooting the gutter as opposed to it being too full and simply overflowing, but then that wouldn't explain the dent. I'm not sure. Every time it happens I never summon the courage (or stupidity) to put a ladder up in the middle of a torrential downpour to see what's actually happening inside the gutter.

Your idea to factor in the height of the gutter is a good one - thanks.
 

trautmane2

Member
Jul 13, 2019
248
172
Leesburg, VA
Just to clarify, Tesla subcontracted out our gutter replacement work, but it was included in the price they quoted us, and we knew it was being subcontracted.

Got it - sorry I misinterpreted things. Tesla no longer includes gutters in the price. My agreement explicitly states this. Tesla recommended a 3rd party gutter contractor that is based in MD near their solar office (and much nearer to you than me in NOVA). One thing I'll need to consider if I decide to replace my gutters is whether to look for contractors closer to where I live.

Also just to clarify for others: my Tesla advisor said that although the solar roof installers would do their best to leave the existing gutters in place, there is the possibility that the existing gutters would need to be removed to complete the roof install. If that happens, Tesla will remove the gutters but it is my responsibility to hire someone to put them back up or replace them.

My thought is doing it now has the advantage of not having to have anybody working up on your new roof (this was not an issue for us with our roof layout) but I would be concerned about the new gutters in some way being incompatible with the new roof, particularly if you are adding new downspouts from the upper to lower roof. (And if you are including gutter guards of any sort, be certain Tesla approves them.) Waiting ensures you won't have that issue, but do make sure the gutter replacement company is properly insured and understands the roof type. I believe the biggest concern is really not so much the walking but dropping things or trying to anchor ladders (plus being aware of the slippery nature of the roof when wet.) Waiting also means you can see how your gutters perform with the new roof before making a decision.

Thanks - this is really helpful. I was debating the pros and cons of waiting vs. having everything done at the same time.
 

wjgjr

Active Member
May 11, 2020
1,300
1,034
Silver Spring, MD
Got it - sorry I misinterpreted things. Tesla no longer includes gutters in the price. My agreement explicitly states this. Tesla recommended a 3rd party gutter contractor that is based in MD near their solar office (and much nearer to you than me in NOVA). One thing I'll need to consider if I decide to replace my gutters is whether to look for contractors closer to where I live.

Also just to clarify for others: my Tesla advisor said that although the solar roof installers would do their best to leave the existing gutters in place, there is the possibility that the existing gutters would need to be removed to complete the roof install. If that happens, Tesla will remove the gutters but it is my responsibility to hire someone to put them back up or replace them.
The reason you might at least get a quote from Tesla's recommended contractor is that they hopefully know how to work with the solar roof and also have more incentive to do a good job to keep on Tesla's good side. It may be the same people they used on our job, but I unfortunately don't have the name - they seemed to do a good job (other than not cleaning up cigarette butts.) For us, the gutters were a specific line-item added to the contract.
 

jboy210

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Dec 2, 2016
5,386
3,340
Northern California
The drainpipe for the lower roof gutter is at the opposite end of what you see in the picture (guessing that gutter runs for 30 feet). I quickly measured the drain pipe as 4'' x 2'', but when I look online I only see 4x3 and 3x2 options, so maybe it is 4x3.



Good to know - thanks. Any reason you chose 4'' over 6''? Cost or looks or ... ?

We used a piece of cardboard to model it and my wife liked the looks better. So far we have not had any issues with the gutters not being able to hold the water.
 

dhquigley

Member
May 21, 2020
85
41
Brookeville, MD
I finally feel like I can contribute some information after months of just taking. So, I just went through all of this in Maryland, and I am paranoid about water on top of everything else. I knew I wanted to replace my gutters and downspouts with larger models (and covers), given all you mention about water coming off faster (and it does). Before this roof, I was having clogging issues on the old gutters, so I knew those had to go. Still, I was concerned about not having gutters for a few weeks, so I asked both the Tesla installers and the gutter guys Tesla recommends (Complete Exteriors in MD) if I could leave my gutters, do the roof, and THEN replace the gutters. Got the same answer from everyone: the roof install is much cleaner and easier without gutters (nothing to cut around on the bottom rows). They also both were adamant that I wanted the big gutters given the shape of my roof and the new flow rate. So we pulled the gutters when we pulled the roof, then afterwards added back the bigger gutters and spouts. Very happy with the results. I will say, it made for a harrowing few weeks, with some big storms, but I bought some rolls of painter's plastic to put around the house, and then at night I cut pieces off the Firestone underlay off the rolls lying around my driveway to cover the foundation in the areas that took particularly heavy amounts of rain. I figured if it was good enough for the roof.... In the end, really happy with the install of both items, and the system works great. I will say that I ran point in terms of telling the gutter guys when to come, etc. Tesla is supposed to do this, but there are a number of posts in this site about communication breakdowns, and I will tell you my involvement as a go-between definitely sped the process. Hope this helps!
 
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jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Nov 28, 2018
10,353
11,696
Riverside Co. CA
I finally feel like I can contribute some information after months of just taking. So, I just went through all of this in Maryland, and I am paranoid about water on top of everything else. I knew I wanted to replace my gutters and downspouts with larger models (and covers), given all you mention about water coming off faster (and it does). Before this roof, I was having clogging issues on the old gutters, so I knew those had to go. Still, I was concerned about not having gutters for a few weeks, so I asked both the Tesla installers and the gutter guys Tesla recommends (Complete Exteriors in MD) if I could leave my gutters, do the roof, and THEN replace the gutters. Got the same answer from everyone: the roof install is much cleaner and easier without gutters (nothing to cut around on the bottom rows). They also both were adamant that I wanted the big gutters given the shape of my roof and the new flow rate. So we pulled the gutters when we pulled the roof, then afterwards added back the bigger gutters and spouts. Very happy with the results. I will say, it made for a harrowing few weeks, with some big storms, but I bought some rolls of painter's plastic to put around the house, and then at night I cut pieces off the Firestone underlay off the rolls lying around my driveway to cover the foundation in the areas that took particularly heavy amounts of rain. I figured if it was good enough for the roof.... In the end, really happy with the install of both items, and the system works great. I will say that I ran point in terms of telling the gutter guys when to come, etc. Tesla is supposed to do this, but there are a number of posts in this site about communication breakdowns, and I will tell you my involvement as a go-between definitely sped the process. Hope this helps!


Got any pics to share for this OP?
 

dhquigley

Member
May 21, 2020
85
41
Brookeville, MD
Got any pics to share for this OP?
Here's the back, which frankly was much easier than the front. Note here I also got the local roof guy to redo the mini-roof under the bay window (the subject of another post) with single-seam to look closer to the roof than asphalt. I talso shows the only issue I had with the whole thing, which was they used a black collar to connect the white downspout to the underground drain. I figured that's not bad though. If you zoom in, this gives a nice view of the space where gutter meets edge of roof. Completely smooth.
20201002_125454.jpg
 

jboy210

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Dec 2, 2016
5,386
3,340
Northern California
Here's the back, which frankly was much easier than the front. Note here I also got the local roof guy to redo the mini-roof under the bay window (the subject of another post) with single-seam to look closer to the roof than asphalt. I talso shows the only issue I had with the whole thing, which was they used a black collar to connect the white downspout to the underground drain. I figured that's not bad though. If you zoom in, this gives a nice view of the space where gutter meets edge of roof. Completely smooth. View attachment 595307

That looks wonderful. I think the roof over the bay window matches very well and compliments the solar roof.
 
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trautmane2

Member
Jul 13, 2019
248
172
Leesburg, VA
I spoke with my Tesla Advisor earlier this week and he told me that gutters are replaced for 95% of solar roof installations. Today, I saw this time-lapse video of an install in Kansas that shows the gutters being left intact throughout the install:


The third party company that did that install (Weddle and Sons Roofing) has a bunch of other videos including a couple that show how the tiles get wired together and how the flashing/edging is done.
 
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trautmane2

Member
Jul 13, 2019
248
172
Leesburg, VA
I thought I'd provide an update on what I finally did for my gutters (apologies for the word-i-ness) ...

After a few emails with the same Tesla recommended contractor @dhquigley used, the contractor convinced me that it was a good idea to replace my smaller gutters with 6-inch gutters and that the gutters should be removed before my solar roof was installed to simplify the removal process. Apparently, the higher overlap of the solar roof edge makes it more difficult to remove old gutters if they are left in place and removed post roof install. The contractor ghosted me once he learned that his company was not also contracted for my roof tear-down and underlayment install. I'm guessing just doing my gutter install was not worth his trouble - but I don't know for sure why he never responded to my later requests.

When my install started a couple of weeks later, I told both my Tesla install project advisor and the tear-down lead contractor that the gutters should be removed during tear down. Unfortunately, that request got forgotten and/or misunderstood. On the "last day" of tear down, I reminded the tear-down contractor that I needed the gutters to be removed. He kindly accommodated my request, but had to come back the next day (a Sunday) to complete the removal. Although the gutter removal was complete before my roof install started, it was done after the tear-down contractor had installed edge-trim over the underlayment. To do the edge-trim install with the old gutters in place, he had to cut a notch in the trim metal (by hand) around each gutter nail. Here's what that looked like after the old gutter was removed:

Screen Shot 2021-01-01 at 8.38.03 PM.png

Now that I have new gutters installed, these notches are not visible from the ground but it still bothers me a little that they are there (and it actually wasted a lot of the contractor's time since he would not have needed to cut them if he had removed the gutters first). I think/hope that there is no potential structural/leak issue with the notches - it's just an aesthetic thing if you happen to be looking down on the gutters.

I ended up getting 3 estimates for the new gutter install. Sometimes I'm reluctant (too lazy) to take the time to get 3 estimates, but it really is worth the effort - I had 2 estimates that were close and 1 estimate that was $1000 more. I'm happy with the result. Here's the area where they added an extra down spout to deal with the flow problem I mentioned earlier in this thread:

Screen Shot 2021-01-01 at 8.57.02 PM.png

Here is the garage gutter during a recent down-pour:

Screen Shot 2021-01-01 at 9.12.36 PM.png

The gutter install process is really fast relative to everything else. It took 4-5 hours (unfortunately over 2 days since they arrived late the first day) for my house. We've already had a couple of big storms since the gutter install and I'm definitely glad to have the larger gutters. Water flies down the glass roof. The additional down spout also seemed to work well - no waterfalls onto our deck.

So, in summary, my recommendations for solar roof installs in areas that get significant rain are to:
(1) replace small gutters with larger (6-inch) gutters,
(2) get at least 3 estimates for the new gutters, and
(3) make sure your tear-down contractor understands that your old gutters should be removed before underlayment and trim are installed.
 
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Ampster

Active Member
Oct 5, 2012
1,801
485
Kenwood, California
I think/hope that there is no potential structural/leak issue with the notches - it's just an aesthetic thing if you happen to be looking down on the gutters.
The water looks like it is flowing from the tiles into your gutters okay. The purpose of the metal is to protect the fascia board from any water. I could not tell but typically the gutter is slipped under that metal. It has no structural purpose and the notches will not affect its functionality. Most people looking out the window will probably notice how nice the roof tiles and not even notice the notches.
 

gigawatt1010

Member
Aug 21, 2016
499
487
Orange County, New York
Thanks for referring me to this thread @trautmane2 - I was fortunate that my roof tear down crew took the gutters down before they even did the tear down and advised me that I will need new ones, even referred me to a couple of vendors. Not sure if it's a regional thing, but the cheapest quote I got for my house was $1,400 and one was even at $2,200. Complete replacement of gutters and downspouts with 6". I asked about the downspout in an effort to lower the cost, but I'll probably pull the trigger on the $1,600 one as the guy seems more knowledgeable and has done 2 other houses with Tesla Solar Glass. He's supposed to come by next week and start the job, assuming the glass crew is done this week.
 

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