Gutter systems, which run along the base of a roof, are vital home improvements for houses located in areas that experience heavy rains and snow. It helps gather and redirect water that falls on the house’s roof. Without a gutter, rainwater, or melted snow will affect the foundation of the house, causing significant damage to the structure, brickwork, and basement. The lack of gutters can also cause damage to the roof itself.
Is it time to replace your old gutters, or are you thinking of installing them for the first time? Get to know your choices and know how to maintain them through this article.
Are Gutters Always Needed?
Before you decide what gutter will work best for your home, figure out first if your house really needs one. Most do, but there are instances when gutters are not needed. Consider these things:
- If your roof has no overhang or only a few inches of overhang, the water will most likely accumulate against the foundation or pour down on people as they enter and exit the house. For this, guttering is a must.
- If your house is higher than the surrounding landscaping, rainwater is unlikely to gather around the foundation. In this case, gutters can be optional.
- If your house is surrounded by concrete in the form of walkways, patios, or driveways, rain gutters can be optional. The concrete can serve as a protective layer between the water runoff and the foundation.
- If you live in an arid location, you may not need a rain gutter.
- If your house has a sharply peaked roof with an overhang of 12 inches or more, rainwater will naturally cascade away from the house instead of straight into the ground. In this case, you may not need a rain gutter.
Advantages of Gutters
1. Keeps your home away from damp and damage due to moisture
A reliable gutter system can protect your house against dampness and condensation. When stormwater and heavy rainfall fall into the house, it can get into your house’s structure and foundation, causing irreversible damages. A gutter will help prevent moisture from being trapped in the house. It offers proper drainage for rainwater, redirecting it against the ground and into an in-ground drain system.
2. It transforms the design of your house
Professionally-fitted gutters can help transform the outer design of your home. A seamless gutter looks like it’s part of the construction itself, while copper and stainless steel gutters add to the house’s visual appeal.
3. It increases the market value of your house
Looking in a real estate advantage, adding gutters to the home can help increase the house’s market value if you decide to sell it. Many homeowners interested in selling their houses will consider making some interior and exterior improvements before having it appraised. Thats why you should definitely check out options like gutter installation Sydney for assistance.
Types of Gutters According to Shape
Here’s a general overview of the types of gutters according to shapes.
K-style gutters are the most common type of gutter used in homes. It’s a common misconception that they are named after their shape, but they do not look like the letter “K” at all. Instead, the name is derived from the way gutters are named, as the 12 gutter styles are named after the first 12 letters of the alphabet. The K-style is the 11th style.
This type of gutter is the most popular due to its appearance and how decorative they are. The look closely resembles the appearance of crown molding, which is often installed around the ceilings in home interiors. The flat back makes it easy to install against the fascia of the house to create a seamless look, while the flat bottom and outwardly angled sides allow it to carry more water than half-round gutters. The downside is that it’s harder to clean than half-round gutters because the inner angles collect debris.
2. Half-round gutters
Half-round gutters have an open, through-like shape that can add a certain appeal to your home. These are more traditional in their appearance and work well on homes with a specific architectural style. While it’s not decorative, they are traditionally found in homes built before the 1960s.
It’s available in different styles and different materials, making it easy for homeowners to customize their gutters and get ones that complement the style of their home. It holds less water than the K-style, but when it’s made of copper or zinc, it’s sturdy and gives an old-fashioned appeal that matches some architectural styles.
3. Fascia gutters
Fascia gutters are custom-built for a home and are usually made of a long stretch of aluminum. Fascia gutters are expensive and must be professionally installed. These gutters double duty both as a gutter and a fascia board. It can hide the edges of the rafter tails, creating smooth lines along with the house that also prevents water damage or animals from trying to enter the house through the rafter tails. This type of gutter is used only for houses with no fascia installed yet. It’s also custom-built for the house and must be professionally installed.
4. Victorian ogee
Also known as Old Gothic gutters, Victorian ogees are very distinctive and have a decorative profile that looks great on some homes. This style is based on cast-iron gutters that were popular during the 19th century. The traditional yet stylish look can look great, especially for more traditional homes like Victorian-style houses or period homes. With the right styling, it can also look great on other designs.
Victorian ogee gutters are shallow, which means they can’t handle all the water flow like other gutters can, so they work well on smaller homes. You will also need to have this kind of gutter custom-made because you can’t simply buy it off the shelf in stores.
Different Materials Used for Gutters
Rain gutters are made of different materials, such as:
Vinyl gutters are a favorite among homeowners because it’s easy to install, never corrodes or rusts, and cheap to purchase. This is a lightweight material with sections that can easily snap together, making it an excellent option for DIYers.
Vinyl gutters function well in milder climates. However, it has a reputation for being brittle and cracking over time and when exposed to extreme cold. It’s not a great option for houses in areas that receive heavy rains or snow. When buying one for your home, do not choose the cheapest as much as possible. Thinner, cheaper vinyl gutters will sag and age easier. Always choose thicker vinyl gutters as they can last longer.
Aluminum is another popular material for rain gutters because it never rusts and is almost indestructible. Like vinyl gutters, aluminum ones are lightweight and easy to work with. However, they are weather-resistant across the board and keeps their integrity even in cold climates. It also holds paint well, allowing you to easily match the colors of your gutter to the rest of your exterior color scheme.
The only drawback when it comes to aluminum gutters is that they are not structurally as strong as other materials. They can be dented and misshapen by poorly placed ladders and the like.
Some homeowners with enough knowledge about gutters agree that copper makes the ultimate gutter. It’s beautiful, with a natural patina that ages to a verdigris color. It doesn’t need any paint or finish, and it will last as long as the house since it’s rust-resistant.
These types of gutters are more expensive than aluminum and vinyl, but people don’t install them to save money. It’s popular for homeowners who want a decorative rain gutter on their homes and those who want to avoid mold and mildew that tends to grow on gutters. Unfortunately, it’s not stronger than aluminum, which means a falling tree or large limb can damage it.
4. Stainless steel
Stainless steel is seldom used as house gutters for it’s a high-end, custom material. Like copper, it won’t rust, and it can last as long as the house. It’s virtually indestructible and is one of the strongest materials in the industry.
The biggest drawback of stainless steel is its price. These gutters will cost two to four times as much as gutters made of aluminum or vinyl, so be prepared to shell out more money if you want to go this route.
5. Galvanized steel
Galvanized steel is simply steel that’s covered with a thin layer of zinc for protection. This material is competitive when it comes to cost and is even sturdier than aluminum. It can resist damage incurred by ladders and falling branches.
While these gutters are strong, the main drawback of this material is it can rust when damaged. Eventually, rust will take its toll, and you have to quickly complete any repair work once these gutters are dented or scratched, or the damage will only get bigger. It’s imperative that these types of gutters be installed by experts because once they are incorrectly installed, there may not be enough drainage, causing standing water to accumulate and form rust.
Galvalume is another steel option, made by dipping steel into liquid zinc and aluminum. It’s a specialty type of gutter that will require an expert for you to get your hands on. It’s an incredibly strong metal option that can withstand rust and damage.
Before opting for this type of gutter, consider where you live, as it can outlast galvanized steel depending on your location. In some areas, it can even last nine times longer than galvanized steel.
Zinc gutters are a big investment, but they will last twice as long as aluminum. Zinc gutters are made of zinc, with small amounts of both copper and titanium. It’s often left unpainted. Over time, the gutters will develop a patina similar to copper, which will protect the material from the elements.
Wood gutters have been the norm for hundred years ago, but it has mostly dropped out of favor. It’s rarely installed today because it’s expensive, heavy, and needs considerable maintenance. It must be treated once a year to keep it resistant to water. It can be painted, but since paint cracks and peels with moisture, it needs periodic painting.
However, wood is still a viable option for architectural purists. Wood gutters made of redwood, cedar, and fir, are still available but are most often used in renovations of old, historic houses. You have to be prepared to spend a bundle if you opt for this classic gutter material.
Types of Gutter Construction
Gutters are either sectional or seamless. Here’s the difference:
Sectional gutters are pieced together from different lengths, attached with connectors, and then trimmed down to fit in the house. It’s not custom-made and can be easily cut and installed on a property with a hacksaw or a cutting device. These are used by DIY gutter installers because they are easy and quick to install.
However, it has a few drawbacks. In each place where you use a connector, there is a risk of leaking. This means that water can pour down the sides of the home instead of away from it, which can cause mildew and molds. Also, the joints and seams are the most common areas where gutters fail after years of use. This is a risk many homeowners are willing to take, considering that sectional gutters are very affordable, and they can simply take time to get on a ladder and clean it out regularly to avoid problems.
Seamless gutters are made of just one piece of material instead of pieces put together in sections. It has joints and downspouts in corners while ensuring that they are sturdy and won’t spring a leak accidentally during a storm. It’s built to last and durable. Of course, they are often more expensive, but the increased price adds to the homeowner’s peace of mind.
Guide to Cleaning Gutters
Cleaning out gutters is essential to keep your gutters functioning correctly. While others do not mind it at all, it still remains a crucial step in maintaining your house. Don’t let it slip your mind because you risk having water damage in your house if you do. The seepage of water can increase the likelihood of molds and damage your exterior paint, which can be expensive to rectify.
It might be time to clean out your gutters when:
- Birds are moving in – When birds start making themselves at home in your gutter, it means it’s overflowing with twigs, leaves, and debris that gives birds materials to build their nests. If you see them living in your gutters, it’s time to clean it out.
- Plants are growing – It’s great to have plants decorating your home’s exterior, but you don’t want it growing out of your gutters. The stormy weather can wash dirt from your roof into the gutter, making an ideal environment for weeds and other plants to start sprouting up.
- You’re seeing waterfalls – When it rains, your gutters are put to work. But if you see mini waterfalls overflowing on one area, it means that it’s under too much strain. It can be caused by dirt clogging up the gutter. Once the storm has passed and it’s sunny again, fetch the ladder and start cleaning immediately.
How to Clean Gutters
- Prepare your ladder, a trowel, wire hooks, two buckets, and a garden hose. You must wear appropriate footwear. Don’t wear flip flops or sandals as these might cause you to slip up.
- Prepare your buckets. One will be used for holding debris and other matter from your gutter, and the other one will be used for storing the equipment that you need to bring up to the roof with you. Securely hook them onto the ladder.
- Put on gloves. Start cleaning near the downspout first by removing any large clumps of debris. Then, use the trowel for removing smaller pieces of the build-up.
- Clean any downspout strainers. If you don’t have them, it’s worth investing in, as it can help streamline the cleaning process and prevent downspout blockages in the future.
- After removing all debris, clean the gutters out by hosing. If you have a gutter cleaning attachment, now is a good time to use it. Start hosing down the gutter by starting at the opposite end from the downspout.
- If the water is falling to drain, there might be a clog in the downspout that needs to be removed. If the nozzle on your garden hose can fit in the downspout, set it at full pressure and turn on the water. Feed the hose up from the bottom of the spouting. If it still doesn’t work, use a plumber’s snake to dislodge clogs.
- Once the clogs are tackled and the debris is removed, run down your gutter with a hose again.