Gutter question

I hate to reopen this apparently age-old debate, about gutters, gutter screens, gutter hoods, etc., but after scanning numerous old posts (still a drop in the bucket of the total amount written), I haven't found something that really speaks to me.
So, perhaps if I describe my particular situation, and ask for advice, it might help. For anyone who takes the time to read through this post and reply, I really appreaciate it.
I'm pretty sure that the gutters on our 1977 house date to 1977. I believe they are aluminum (they are metal at any rate), they are sectional, and I think they need to be replaced. As long as I'm replacing the gutters, I want to do it right.
** Why I think the gutters need to be replaced ** There are many places where water drips through small holes in the gutter instead of following the path down the downspout - especially if the gutters get partially or fully clogged. In some places they no longer have the poper angle for all of the water to drain out. In some places, the facia boards behind the gutters appear to be rotted. In some places, they are now hanging so that water can easily get between the gutter and the facia board. I have made minor tweaks to the gutters to improve things, but the condition of the gutters makes me think that at this point, replacing them would be better than fixing them.
** Why I think I need gutters at all ** There are decks and flower beds around the house. If water falls on the deck, it splatters up agains the doors and rots the wood framing. If water cascades down on the flower beds, it's not so nice for the flowers (if the deer haven't already eaten them). There are some areas around the house with drainage issues (like in front of the garage).
** Conditions at our house ** Roof pitch: about 30 degrees (quite steep). Trees: Lots! Probably worse than living in a pine forest, we live in a hemlock forest. Those tiny needles fill up the gutters really fast (especially if some larger debris manages to block the downspout) and they fell right through the cheap plastic screening I had up for a while. There is also a big oak near the house and various maple and other trees near enough to shed leaves in the gutters. Climate: Ithaca NY. Plenty of rain. Plenty of snow and Ice in in the winter.
** What to do, how much should it cost? ** Should I get plastic/vynil, aluminum or steel gutters? Single piece or sectional? What should I do to prevent leaf/needle accumulation in the gutters? Screens? hoods? those little baskets that keep larger debris from blocking the downspouts? nothing at all? I don't expect to never have to clean the gutters, but as it is now, it needs to be done 3 or 4 times a year to keep things working properly. I would like to minimize that pain. The hemlock needlese seem to wedge themselves into any tiny crack. I haven't measured, but I probably need somewhere in the range of 120 linear feet of gutter (including 2-car garage) and 6 or 7 downspouts (4 or 5 in the 8-12 foot heigh and 2 at a 15 to 20 foot height). I hope to contract this out and not do any of the work myself. How much should I expect to pay for various types of gutters? I don't just want the cheapest solution, but my poketbook is far from botomless. I am willing to pay more for higher quality, but I would like to get the best value for the money.
Thanks for any input.
-Jonathan
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First, I would rip off gutters and have a trusted carpenter repair/replace, prime, and paint rotted facia board. This is crucial. Given money constraints, I'd go for seamless pre-painted aluminum, fabricated on the spot, providing you don't have severe ice or salt air issues in your area. Several colors that coordinate with your house may be available. Stress importance of keeping proper pitch on gutters and silicone caulking of all joints. Also, check the warrantees available. Re the needles, cheapest solution is to include aluminum mesh screens in your estimate. Get three or four estimates, as they vary wildly, and take the contractor that pleases you most, has large customer base, and offers reasonable price. The Yellow Pages are a good starting point - go for the big ads with big volume, and lengthy business history. Also, check with neighbors to see who they use, and how well they did, and how the gutters look. Before accepting an estimate, check the company against the Better Business Bureau for complaints. Best of Luck.
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Jonathan Joseph wrote:

....
I think Roger did an very good job with everything he commented on
As for the leaf - needle question, I suggest asking neighbors for something that works for them. It seems there are many different approaches for this problem. Some work for some conditions and other work for other conditions and some don't work at all. The mix of stuff that finds it's way to your gutters is local and that seems to determine what system(s), if any work. What works in Florida may not work a all in Washington State.
--
Joseph E. Meehan

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Unfortunately (or fortunately) there are few neighbors, and none who are actually in the hemlock forest like we are.
-Jonathan

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Leafguard brand gutters work for leave and pineneedles. Mesh screens do not work for pine needles. I live in NC. We have our share of ice and had a 2 feet snowstorm once and the Leafguard gutters are perfect after 7 years but I cannot say what would happen to the Leafguard gutters if we had 100 inches of snow every winter like I did when I lived in Rochester NY.

approaches
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On Wed, 26 May 2004 21:48:10 GMT, "Art"

What kind of gutters did you have in Rochester? Just regular aluminum ones, no covers or guards? FYI, we're still enjoying lots of snow up here, had about 130" this past winter.
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I left Rochester in 1980 which was mild winter. Should have left in 1979 when we had 160 inches. Like driving in a blizzard every darn winter day. I rented in Rochester so the gutter problems were owned by my landlord. My parents on Long Island had a decent amount of snow and put in Leafguards about 6 years ago with no problems. But still not a Rochester NY test.
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The real question is this: Unless you are blocking water near a doorway or walkway, or flower bed, why do you need gutters at all? Many reputable contractors ask the same question....

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Steven Bliss wrote:

To move it away from the home's foundation.
--
Joseph E. Meehan

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My point is this (and I've heard many reputable contractors say the same thing): the vast majority of the homes in my area are 20-50 yrs old. They were not built with gutters around the entire house. They are still here, and did not float away. I could understand why you may need them with an unsealed basement, etc.

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Steven Bliss wrote:

Sealed or not, the first and most important thing to do to keep a dry basement, is to get the moisture away from the foundation.
There is also some issue about all that water running down the siding.
--
Joseph E. Meehan

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Joseph Meehan wrote:

What water running down the siding?
Bob
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wrote:

The rain argument ignores the snow that is wedged against a structure all winter.
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