I need to add some gutters to part of our house and I'm seriously considering vinyl gutters because they seem REALLY easy to setup (with minimal tools required too). That being said, I've heard some people say they're more prone to problems such as leaking. Is there truth to this? If so, what alternatives would be appropriate for a newbie home owner?
The weak points in any guttering system are where the various sections join. If the gutters aren't fitted correctly then any system will leak.
So look for a system that has an easy to fit joint, or perhaps one where the joints are bonded.
As long as they have the capacity to carry the volume of water you expect then any correctly installed system will be OK.
One more thing, make sure you maintain them. Check them at least one a year to make sure they're not blocked, more often if you have overhanging trees. Don't lean your ladder on the gutter itself. Lean it just below or get a device to push the ladder away from the wall.
My aluminum gutters leak, so I do periodic checks on them. Of course, they only leak when it is raining, at a time when I seriously don't want to deal with the problem.
Anything that carries water like this will probably leak eventually. So I know to check them on a yearly basis to deal with the leaks before winter. To be honest, I find that a clogged downspout is more likely to cause a problem, making the gutter overflow in a heavy rain.
Be careful when you lean a ladder against your gutters, perhaps to clean them out periodically. This will put a strain on the nearby joints, and cause leaks.
Perhaps the most important point in installing vinyl gutters is to use expansion joints, rather than having rigid joints all the way through, for lengths over about 20 or 30 feet. Vinyl expands and contracts much more than metal, so you have to give it somewhere to go. Brackets used for vinyl should also be designed to allow some sliding movement, otherwise the brackets are liable to work loose over time. You may also want to consider sag, which is worse in vinyl.
I installed vinyl gutters on a house I occupied nearly 30 years ago and driving past a few days ago I noticed they're still there, so clearly they can last quite well.