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Gutter Basics
Written by Elizabeth Wood
Editor In Chief, United Home Improvement


Gutters are important because they protect your home from moisture damage. They consist of metal channels that are attached to the edges of a roof. These channels are used to draw water down and away from the house and its foundation. Generally, gutters consist of gutter sections, drop outlets and downspouts. They can be constructed of aluminum, galvanized steel, vinyl (PVC), wood or copper.

Without gutters, heavy rain fall causes water to sit on your roof and parade down your walls, leaving permanent damage. You will start to notice cracking in your paint and damages to your siding. Heavy rain can also lead to windows swelling and decay overtime.

Several things should be taken into consideration with gutters. First of all, the size of your gutter should be designed to accommodate to the volume of water that your home receives. Investing in a gutter that is too small will be a poor decision because it will not function properly and will lead to more damages.

Half round, square and “K” style (Ogee) gutter systems are the most common designs for residential use. “K” style gutters tend to be more decorative. When it comes to the décor of your gutters, there are an unlimited variety of colors and styles to choose from. The difficult decision rest with what type of material you want your gutter to be made from.

Aluminum: Very durable, rust resistant material that can hold heavy rain fall. They are moderately priced. Prices will raise the thicker the metal is, but thickness will ensure that it lasts longer and carries consistency. Aluminum tends to dent easily so be careful when resting ladders up against it.

Galvanized Steel: Tend to be the most economical. They are very durable and reasonably priced. GS may result in rust issues. Stainless steel gutters are rust free.

PVC Gutters: Made from un-plasticized polyvinyl chloride. Structure is lighter, requires less maintenance, easy to repair, and does not require a paint job. Extremely hot climates may cause PVC gutters to become brittle and crack.

Copper: Copper gutters are very durable, rust resistant, and easy to maintain. They tend to be more expensive because they can be custom designed, opening up much creativity. Copper requires specialize installations skills.

In addition to the different designs, shapes and materials, you must also take maintenance and repairs into consideration. Obviously the best way to avoid problems with your gutters is to make sure that leaves and other debris are always cleared from your gutters. Test gutters with a hose to see if there are any obstructions in the downspouts. Also, investing in gutter guards is always an option.

Depending upon what material your gutters are made of will determine the ways in which to repair them. For instance, leaks in metal gutters can usually be fixed by gutter caulk. Most hardware stores also carry gutter repair kits that will help you make repairs yourself.

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