There’s a subtle yet critical physical feature on most houses that, when functioning properly, should go unnoticed: gutters. These horizontal metal catchment systems are installed along the eave edges of a house and are barely noticeable unless they’re malfunctioning. Open at the top, gutters catch rainwater and snow melt as it runs down a roof, and funnel it towards a downspout. Another important feature on the exterior of a home, a downspout is made of the same material as the gutter but is an enclosed, vertical section. This takes the water from the gutter down to the ground level, where your custom drainage system will direct water away from the foundation and prevent water damage to the structure.
Why use gutters?
Note that we said “most” houses have gutters. When building or remodeling your home, it’s important to consider if you live in an area that perhaps might not require gutters because of the local climate. If your area is, for the most part, arid and doesn’t often get hit by heavy rain storms, then you might actually be able to skip this feature on your home.
For those who do live in climates that experience frequent or seasonal rainfall, a professionally installed gutter system is a necessity. This simple yet vital component helps prevent water from running down the side of your house and causing damage to siding, moisture and condensation in windows and interior walls, and deterioration along the foundation and flooding in your basement.
In cold, northern states, properly installed and maintained gutters also serve to protect homes from ice dams, where ice builds up along the eaves and in blocked gutters, forcing excess water to back up underneath the roofing shingles and create major damage to your roof and other interior parts of your home.
While more expensive, homeowners often choose to install seamless gutters. Usually made from solid sections, seamless gutters mitigate potential leaks because seams are where the gutters are most vulnerable. They’re also easier to maintain: it’s recommended that gutters are cleaned at least twice a year, or more if you’re surrounded by trees or live in an area that is prone to storms. With seamless gutters, the process of removing leaf litter, moss, and other buildup in your gutters is easier, justifying the higher price point for many homeowners.
What are the different kinds of gutters?
Homeowners have many options when it comes to choosing the best gutters for their home. There are two main styles: K-style gutters and half-round gutters. The style refers to the shape of the gutter when looked at as a cross-section. K-style gutters have a flat back and bottom, while the front can be curved into a decorative shape, sometimes resembling a “K” or similar to a crown molding. Half-round gutters are like tubes cut in half – half of a round gutter tube. While gutters can range in width-size from 3 inches to 7 inches, the majority of gutters installed today are five or six inches wide based on the size of roof and your climate – if you experience frequent heavy rainfall, you’ll need a wider gutter.
Homeowners can also choose from a variety of gutter materials, including aluminum, copper, steel, galvalume, zinc, and vinyl. While each one has its strengths and weaknesses, at All Roof USA, we predominantly install and repair copper gutters and aluminum gutters.
Aluminum gutters are the most commonly-used gutters, and most often in the K-style. They can be fabricated on the job site by a professional and formed into one continuous piece, thus creating a seamless gutter that won’t leak. Aluminium gutters also won’t rust, giving them a lifespan of at least 20 years even in wet, severe climates. Light-weight, strong, and highly-customizable, these gutters are favored by professionals who are able to install them quickly and easily.
Aluminum gutters are also available in an array of colors and finishes, including copper penny aluminum. For those who want the look of copper without the steep cost, this painted aluminum gutter has the high-gloss appeal of new copper that will never fade.
Authentic copper gutters are a truly eye-catching and impressive feature for your home. Usually found on historic or high-end homes, these understated but beautiful gutters go beyond just the physical appeal: the average lifespan of copper gutters is around 60 years, but with proper maintenance, they can last up to 100 years or more. Elegant and stately, copper gutters are also renowned for their changing look: within a few years of installation, the copper will begin to develop a unique patina, oxidizing over time from dark hues to greens and turquoise. Choosing to adorn your home with copper gutters is costly, however, costing at least triple that of aluminum gutters. But consider this: copper never rusts and it resists both algae and fungi, reducing blockages and making for easier cleaning. Because it’s one of the easiest materials to repair, time and money can be saved on any work that may occur. And lastly – but perhaps most importantly – because of copper’s low thermal coefficient, it doesn’t expand or contract much with changes in temperature, meaning that copper gutters can be fitted without the expansions joints that gutters made from other materials require. So ultimately, the higher cost of copper gutters may very well be worth it in the long run.
Homeowners can also customize their gutter system with a number of additions: gutter guards, splash blocks, downspout extenders, rain chains or rain barrels are all effective ways of controlling potential water damage, but can also add to the aesthetics of a home. Our team can help you select which add-ons suit your home best and install them quickly and easily.