While gutters play an important role in keeping your home protected against water damage, cleaning them is no one’s favorite chore. How many times have you wished you could skip it?
Every time rain falls, some amount of it ends up on your roof. If it weren’t for gutters, all that water would slide down the roof and soak the soil around your home’s perimeter. The same thing would happen with melting snow.
Gutters collect this water and direct it to downspouts and away from your home. Since saturated soil can lead to foundation damage and even compromise the structural integrity of your home, it is safe to say that gutters can save you a lot of money in repairs. Here is everything you need to know about these fixtures.
What Is a Gutter?
A gutter is a half-pipe that is open at the top and its main purpose is to collect the water from the roof and direct it toward the ground, but away from the home’s perimeter. Normally, gutters run along the eave edges of the roof. There are two main gutter profiles, the “K” and “U” styles, and they are made from various materials. The gutter’s position mainly depends on the roof’s slope.
Gutter systems have two parts, the pipe that runs along the roof’s edge and the vertical pipes called downspouts that carry the water to the ground. If a home doesn’t have a gutter system, large volumes of water would soak the soil around the home and damage the walls of the house as well as the foundation.
Sizing Your Gutters
For gutters to do their job, they need to be the right size. So how can you decide how big your gutters should be? First, you need to pay attention to the size of your roof. The bigger the roof, the more water it will collect. Second, you need to consider the climate in the area where you live. The length of the roof will also determine where the downspouts should be.
Another important factor is the slope of your roof. If it is very steep, the water will move much faster so you will need larger gutters.
Gutters can be made of all sorts of materials. Let’s take a look at their advantages and disadvantages.
Aluminum gutters: Gutter systems made of aluminum are very affordable, lightweight, and do not rust. These gutters can hold up well against the elements even during winter. However, they are not so strong, so even poorly placed ladders can dent them.
Copper gutters: These gutters are very durable and with proper care, they can last a long time. Copper gutters are jointed at the seams. The only thing that might turn off their potential buyers is the price.
Vinyl gutters: It is no wonder that vinyl gutters are so popular among homeowners. These are affordable, can be quickly and easily installed and you don’t have to worry about corrosion. Vinyl gutters are very light and have sections that snap together.
Stainless steel gutters: If you are looking for gutters that will last you a lifetime, these are a perfect choice. They are practically indestructible, rust-resistant, and cannot be deformed so easily. However, they do cost a pretty penny.
Wood gutters: You can see them in historical homes. However, they are not used these days since homeowners prefer cheaper and durable materials.
Apart from wood gutters, all the other types weather well. Gutters made of stainless steel or copper are superior since they cannot be damaged by a roof ladder or tree branches. However, they also cost more than other types.
Installing the gutter system on your own is not impossible, but since your home’s health is in question, it is much better to leave things to the professionals. When gutters are installed by the book, they can serve you for years to come.
When installing the gutters, the contractor will make sure that they are pitched 1/16″ or greater per foot. The highest part of the gutters should be the one that is the farthest from the downspouts. This way, the water or the melted snow will be able to drain quickly. While K-style gutters can be screwed to the structure, U-style gutters need to be placed in brackets. Straps can also hold the gutters in place.
Gutter Maintenance and Repairs
Although the gutter system is not the most glamorous part of the waterproofing system, it still needs to be regularly maintained to function properly. When you are taking a closer look at your gutters, check if they are loose. In addition, remove any debris from the gutters as soon as possible, since it can easily clog the gutters. To make sure that the clogs haven’t formed already, grab a hose and run it through the gutters.
If you don’t have stainless steel or copper gutters, it is possible that they have been dented by falling branches or leaning ladders. Cleaning and resealing the damaged area can solve the problem. However, in the long run, it is always better to completely replace the damaged gutters.
In case your gutters and downspouts freeze during the winter, the rainwater will spill over the roof and saturate the soil around your home. Before winter comes, flush your system and even consider investing in heating elements that run along the gutters and downspouts and keep them from freezing.
If you have galvanized steel gutters, you might not look for signs of rusting since these gutters are supposed to be resistant to corrosion. However, keep in mind that the galvanized coating can wear off and leave the gutters exposed to water and air. Make sure you clean the corroded areas with several layers of spray finish.
Cleaning the gutters is not something homeowners look forward to, especially because they need to climb high in order to reach them. With gutter guards, it is possible to minimize the cleaning and relax knowing that leaves won’t cause any backups.
Gutters are an important part of the waterproofing system, but they are just one piece. If you wish to learn about more available waterproofing solutions in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, or Mississippi, contact experts at AFS and schedule a free inspection.