The Lowly Gutter – Hero of the Home

While gutters, also known as eaves troughs, are an aesthetically minor addition to your home. They are the kind of thing you may only really notice only when they are not there. But they can save you money and time, they do an important job, and without them, damage can occur to your home.

Gutters collect and direct all the rain run-off from your roof. Properly installed, they move this water to an area just away from the home where it will be easily absorbed into the ground. This water may otherwise drain right around your foundation, potentially leading to flooding or dampness and increasing the opportunities of your home being plagued by mold. Without gutters, water may be running off the roof too close to your house with direct dripping or back splash causing the exterior of your home to get very wet. Excessive dampness can take its toll on any exterior surface, but can be especially damaging to wood, resulting in staining, premature paint wear and rot.

Even if you do not live in a wet climate, quality gutters are important. If ground that is normally dry is suddenly taken, drain problems can occur.

If special drainage concerns are an issue, you can get a plastic pipe extension that will direct run-off much further away from the home. The average distance that a gutter should drain water is 5 feet away from your home's foundation.

There are a variety of gutters available, and each has their own pros and cons. Stainless steel used to be the most common material to make gutters from. It is very strong, so will hold up well if it is hit by falling branches or other damage. However, steel will eventually rust through, causing leaks. Aluminum is now common, and its main advantage is that it will not rust and therefore is less likely to leak. Although aluminum is a softer metal, and more prone to damage. If choosing aluminum, choose the lowest gage (thickest) you can afford. Vinyl is another option, and it is lightweight and easy for the average homeowner to install. However it has a far shorter life span than metal and will wear out, becoming brittle and susceptible to cracking. Vinyl also gets brittle in extreme cold, so is unsuitable for many climates.

When installing gutters, reduce the amount of seams to as few as possible. This will reduce the chances for leaks to develop. If you are installing the gutters yourself, measure your eaves, then choose the longest and fewer lengths of gutter to complete your job. If you are paying a professional, get one that will bring a forming machine to your house and make you seamless gutters.

Another option in gutters is to have a cover over them. These are designed to screen out debris that may clog drain spouts. These covers may be screens, or specifically designed overhangs that allow water to enter but prevent leaves, twigs or other matter from getting into your gutters. If you do not get a gutter screen or cover, you will need to check your gutters on a regular basis and clear out any collected debris.