When it comes to maintenance and upgrades to your home, you will often think about roofing, siding, paint, door, and windows, but have you ever considered the gutters? Though it may seem odd, the mundane detail known as the gutter system is what prevents foundations and walls from becoming flooded with water.
The purpose of a gutter is to drain rainwater from rooftops. Along rooftops, gutters serve the same purpose as the drain on a kitchen sink. As rainwater filters down the shingles, the gutters collect the water which then drains into downspouts. Downspouts (also known as leaders) are pipes that filter water downward and away from the house.
For gutters to do their job properly, they must be aligned with a level and free of debris. When gutters become damaged, pull away from the house, or are clogged, rainwater might fail to drain adequately. As water accumulates along the edges of the rooftop, the water may start to overflow or seep into the house. This could lead to larger problems such as wet drywall, foundation issues, excessive moss, and landscape erosion.
To keep your gutters in working condition, you need to inspect them from time to time. The most common times are in the late fall once the autumn leaves have run their course and again in the early spring, once the rain and snow have passed. During each inspection, make sure that the gutters are securely attached, free of debris such as branches, leaves, and even mud (including downspouts). If a snowstorm has recently occurred, check the fasteners to make sure that they are properly secured, as snow tends to loosen nuts and bolts.
What Are Seamless Gutters?
Seamless gutters, alternately known as continuous gutters, are a type of gutter that consists of one continuous piece that spans the length of each roof edge. The purpose of the seamless gutter is to direct the flow of rainwater in an orderly stream and prevent unrestrained water pooling and saturation along the foundation and walls of your house. Seamless gutters are popular among homeowners because of the following features:
- Seamless: As the name implies, seamless gutters are free of unbecoming seams and joints. They are made on site to custom fit every eave of your home.
- Secure design: Since there are no joints or seams in a seamless gutter, the design of this gutter type is far more secure for holding water. While a regular gutter could crack and leak at the seams, this is one less potential problem with a seamless gutter.
- Easy installation: Seamless gutters are installed using hidden hangers with screws, so that there are no unsightly nails every few feet. The gutter itself is formed on site and can easily be installed in a single day.
Seamless gutters are aluminum and enamel coated and come in a variety of colors.
How Gutters Work
Gutters are designed to drain rainwater from your roof in a controlled flow. Without a gutter, rainwater would swell along the edges of your roof and flow in a disorderly manner to the ground below. Gutters consist of several parts that must be fastened securely to ensure proper drainage functions.
1. Line the Edge of Your Roof
Gutters align with the flat edges of your roof, which places them below the downward flow of rainwater. As rain falls upon your rooftop, the gutters collect this downpour and stream it away. Gutters are designed to prevent unrestrained dripping of rainwater from your roof. As such, gutters protect your walls and surrounding soil from water buildup that could otherwise comprise the structural integrity and aesthetic appeal of your home.
2. Drain Rainwater Into Downspouts
Gutters filter the rainwater that slides off your shingles into downspouts that control the drainage of your rooftop. They prevent water from flowing off your roof in an unrestrained manner that could supersaturate the surrounding soil and jeopardize nearby landscaping and greenery. Downspouts are aligned in directions that drain the water to points on the ground that are safe for concentrations of onward-flowing water. From there, the water flows to its final destination and fulfills its natural role.
Benefits of Seamless Gutters
For both residential and commercial properties, the advantages of seamless gutters are numerous. Gutters protect your roof from water buildup and keep your exterior walls protected from saturation. Gutters also help keep water out of your basement and prevent the saturation of sensitive soil. The functions of your gutter system can even contribute to the beauty of your home.
1. Protect Your Roof
Gutters protect your roof from water buildup. Though a roof is designed to protect your interior from the elements, the roof itself is not supposed to hold standing water indefinitely. If water swells along the edges of your roof or lingers in spots along the eaves, the water could fertilize the growth of moss along the shingles and even work its way under the flashing and through the ceiling of your attic. Gutters guide water off your rooftop in a clean and orderly manner.
2. Protect Your Siding
Gutters also protect the siding along the exterior walls of your house. Without the drainage function a gutter system provides, the siding could ultimately get exposed to unrestrained water from your roof. If siding becomes saturated, it could rot and leave the underlying wall panels exposed, causing mold to form along the walls and subject your home to pathogens and aggressive termites. Compromised wall boards are also more likely to get pecked by aggressive birds, such as woodpeckers. Therefore, gutters protect your home from siding damage, wall rot, mold, termites and wildlife.
3. Protect Your Basement
Gutters keep your basement safe from concentrations of water that could otherwise make its way inside. While the two might not seem connected, the sides of your home would collect puddles in times of heavy downpour if not for the structure of your gutters, which filter rainwater away from the exterior walls. Without this function, water would gather directly along the walls and make its way through the vents and perhaps the windowsills to your basement. If your basement gets flooded, the water could damage valuable belongings and put your electrical system at risk. Floodwater could also lead to mold growth and expose your home to pathogens that could be difficult to eradicate. Gutters protect your home from floodwater, interior damage, mold and loss of property.
4. Protect Your Soil
Gutters control the flow and drainage of rainwater away from your house. In doing so, gutters protect the soil around your home from becoming supersaturated with water from the edge of your roof. Without this protection, the soil could become unsettled and leave the foundations of your house at risk. That could be especially dangerous if your home is on a hill or near a body of water. Gutters, in effect, help prevent your house from succumbing to mudslides.
5. Preserve the Appearance of Your House
By keeping your roof drained and your walls protected from too much water, gutters preserve the beauty of your home’s façade. Gutters prevent the buildup of water on your roof, thereby reducing the spread of moss and extending the life of the shingles. Gutters also protect the integrity of your exterior walls, windowsills, decks, doors and surrounding plants, all of which can help you save on home-maintenance costs in the long run. Moreover, these benefits can render your home more attractive in the eyes of potential buyers if you ever choose to place your property on the market.
Gutter styles come in three main shapes. Depending on the age of a home, one variety of gutter might seem more appropriate than another. The market value of a given home is likely to influence the material used for the gutter system. The following styles account for the various types of gutters on today’s market.
1. Half-Round Gutters
Gutters of the half-round design feature an open top and rounded underside with no angles at the back or front. Half-round gutters are paired with round downspouts and are generally available in 5-, 6-, 7- and 8-inch widths. Homes in historic areas typically feature this style. On the downside, half-round gutters are expensive, cumbersome, difficult to install, and offer limited water capacity compared to newer styles.
2. K-Style Gutters
The K-style gutter first emerged on American homes after WWII. The design consists of a flat back and bottom with either a curved or ogee-shaped front side. K-style gutters typically range in width from 5 to 8 inches. The design of the K-style provides twice as much runoff as a half-round gutter of comparative dimensions. K-style gutters come in various colors, materials, and sizes, which are usually paired with rectangular downspouts. The K-style gutter has become a standard feature on modern homes. K-style gutters are seamless and attach to roof edges with hidden hangers.
3. Box-Style Gutters
The box-style gutter is mostly seen on commercial properties. Box-style gutters are machine made and feature wide openings, which make them easy to clean.
Gutters come in a variety of different materials. Each type has different advantages and disadvantages.
One of the most popular gutter materials is aluminum, which doesn’t rust thanks to the metal’s natural anodes. Due to its corrosion resistance, aluminum can withstand nonstop exposure to rainwater. Aluminum can be painted any color and will, therefore, match the façade of any house. Aluminum is also inexpensive and lightweight.
A popular choice among upscale homeowners is copper, beloved for its natural beauty and luster. Copper does not require coating or paint but will acquire a patina with age. As one of the costlier options, copper is a less common choice among middle-class homeowners. The sections of a copper gutter must be welded together and cannot be installed as a DIY project.
The strongest gutter material is steel, which can resist rust for a long time when properly treated. Steel can also be painted and can match numerous exteriors. However, steel will often succumb to corrosion after five to 10 years of constant exposure to inclement weather. Steel gutters are also costlier and heavier, and therefore not the type of gutters you should attempt to install yourself.
The most inexpensive gutter material is vinyl, which has a modern look that suits newer homes. Regarding durability, the main advantage of vinyl is that it never rusts or corrodes. However, the color can fade from prolonged exposure to UV light and the material tends to get brittle through repeated exposure to hot and cold temperatures. A major downside to these DIY gutters, is that there is a seam every few feet which will result in many leaks. It is not possible to paint vinyl, and the color options are somewhat limited.
The Advantages of Seamless Gutters
As their name suggests, seamless gutters are one continuous, joint-free piece. Since there is no seam, it significantly reduces the potential for leaks, which makes seamless gutters an incredibly practical choice for homeowners who do not want to worry about maintenance. As mentioned above, your gutter contractor will manufacture your seamless aluminum gutters onsite, using specialized machinery. This durable gutter option is customized to the exact measurements of your home to ensure a perfect fit.
How to Choose a Contractor
A professional gutter contractor will have numerous insights into how gutters work, having examined and installed hundreds of gutters over the years. When you have a contractor come to your home to examine your roof, long-undetected issues with your roofing and gutter system could ultimately come to light, including problems like under-siding saturation, fascia rot and downspout pools.
1. Research Prospective Contractors
Before you choose one gutter replacement contractor over another, research the company online to see how it stands among customers in your local community. Read reviews from other residents who have had gutter work performed by the company in question.
2. Get Estimates in Writing
Before you green-light a contract, obtain estimates on paper about the work projected for your home. The contract should list concrete details about the scope of work to be performed on your home and the estimated costs and time frame of the project. Make sure that the company is insured and registered with the PA Attorney General. The contractor should offer a warranty for all work performed on your property, as well as contact information if any problems arise in the future.
3. Consider a Company’s Products
Ask about the products of each gutter company that you consider for the project at hand. Depending on the dimensions of your roof and the weather patterns in your area, you might benefit more greatly from certain features. For example, some gutters feature deeper troughs than the standard five-inch models and this added depth can help if rainfall is heavy in your area. Ask about different size and color options. Although many homeowners choose to clean the gutters themselves, you may benefit from a gutter guard, if you find that there is a frequent buildup of debris and want to stay safely on the ground. There are a wide variety of gutter guards. Ask each company what types they offer and how it will work for your home.
4. Ask Questions About Your Roof
When you speak with a contractor, determine the size of the gutters that are currently on your house and whether this is sufficient for the dimensions of your roof. Ask about possible problem areas on your house, such as valleys or steep pitches that may require larger gutters. If downspout or over spill problems have been an issue, ask about placements and angles that would allow for safer, cleaner water drainage.
Hire All Season Gutters for Installation Service
When you need to have a new gutter installed on your home, it is always best to hire professionals to perform the work. The team here at All Season Gutters has been performing gutter installations on homes in and around Lemoyne, Pa., for more than 13 years. Explore our catalog of options and contact us today for a free estimate.