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June 9, 2021 | by Mike Milliman

Maintaining a Seamless Gutter Machine

Proper operation of a seamless gutter machine—and a long machine life—is highly dependent on regular maintenance and care given to the machine.  All the machine manufacturers will tell you a machine can last 20, 25, or 30 years, perhaps even more.  A few older firms will say a few of their machines have operated for more than 40 years.  But you will also hear that the life of a machine is more dependent on the owner and operators and the way they treat a machine than on what the manufacturer did in designing, building, and testing the machine

In the opinion of at least one machine manufacturer, the most successful gutter companies use an enclosed trailer, van, or truck to transport their gutter machines.  Why does this make such a difference?  Because it keeps your machine clean and dry.  Dirt, debris, and the direct effects of weather can prematurely age your machine and turn a valuable asset into a sad piece of junk.  So, how successful do you want to be?

Maintenance Plan

In order to protect your investment and assure proper and timely operation of your machine at the jobsite, you should develop a plan for maintenance, inspection, and cleaning of the gutter machine.  Implementation of this plan will require the involvement and participation of the machine operators as well as the individual tasked with lubrication, inspection, and cleaning of the machine.

Each day, before operating the machine, the operator should inspect the electrical components and wiring.  Look for loose wires or components, discoloration that might indicate overheating, or any other signs of damage.  While performing this inspection also look for any dust, dirt, or debris inside the machine.  If any is detected, it should be removed before commencing operations.

Lubrication 

Lubricate the shear blade daily with the recommended lubricant.  Often this will be one that contains Teflon or silicone.  Avoid overspray on parts where it doesn’t belong.  Lubricate the other parts of the shear mechanism WEEKLY with oil (sometimes SAE-90 non-detergent oil is recommended, other manufacturers recommend chain oil).

Lubricate the drive chain MONTHLY with a recommended lubricant (maybe motorcycle, farm, or industrial chain oil).  Check the tension of the chain.  Adjust it if necessary. 

Most machine manufacturers object to the use of WD-40 as a lubricant.  It is intended more as a penetrant, and has the effect of removing oil or grease from the parts.  Check your operating manual and follow the recommendations of the machine’s manufacturer.

Every month, oil the following parts with #30 weight motor oil or equivalent: 

  • All sprockets and roller-chain
  • All set-screw pressure adjustments
  • Left guide-cranks and right hem-adjusters
  • Blade, guides and other moving parts of the cut-off assembly

Every month, grease all gears with axle grease or equivalent.

Bearings are self-lubricating, requiring no maintenance

Gutter Roll Forming Machine Care

Damaged or Marred Roller Surface 

Cracks on the roller surface will generally scratch or mark painted coil stock. Eliminate this problem by rubbing out any marks on the roll forming surface with fine-grade emery cloth. 

Dirty Rollers 

Solvents, such as mineral spirits, may be used to remove paint, grease, and dirt from the rollers. Galvanized materials will leave a residue on the rollers that will mark painted stock. If changing from galvanized to painted material, clean the rollers with a galvanization remover, such as Galv-Off.

Gutter Machine Electrical System

Gutter Machine Electrical System Components 

Each month you should inspect all the electrical components of the gutter machine; look for loose, exposed or frayed wires, loose connections, burned insulation, or any other things out of the ordinary. Repair any problems immediately. Do not operate the gutter machine if electrical problems exist. Any problem presents a shock hazard that could cause serious injuries.

Removing Residue Buildup

If cleaning with solvent and a rag does not remove any marks, burrs or buildup, try to remove them by lightly sanding the part with fine Emery cloth.  Polish out any remaining marks with a Scotch Brite pad.

Keep covers and safety panels closed except when working on the machine.  Never have the panels open when running gutter.

ABOVE ALL, PROTECT THE MACHINE FROM DIRT, DUST, WORK SITE DEBRIS AND FOREIGN OBJECTS OF EVERY KIND.

In just a few seconds a nail or screw can be pulled through your machine, inflicting $1,000 of damage or more.  How many jobs do you have to complete to earn $1,000 of profit to pay for the repairs?

Gutter Machine Storage

If the gutter machine sits idle for more than one month, the roll formers should be coated with wax to prevent accumulation of dirt and any corrosion of the roll forming surfaces.

Machine Adjustment and Repairs

Incorrect alignment of the material in the machine is cited as the most common cause of incorrectly formed gutter.  The machine was carefully aligned at the factory.  Technicians from the factory or from a dealer are available to make alignments and corrections when required.  Because this is something they do regularly, they are skilled in making such adjustments.

Although the proper adjustment technique is complicated and involves many steps, some manufacturers recommend that someone in the company be trained to make these adjustments.  This may merely serve as an emergency backup to outside service personnel, or the owner may elect to undertake the alignments when they are needed. 

It is generally recommended that, after learning to make such adjustments, you will be better off to alter the adjustments as infrequently as possible.  The tendency to tinker with the adjustments often creates more problems than it solves.

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About the Author
Mike is managing partner at Gutter Supply Inc. and has over 20 years of experience in the industry. His expertise and vast knowledge of the industry, along with his priority on customer service, has contributed to the continued success of Gutter Supply, it’s contractor customers and homeowner DIY’s.

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