Gutters – The Red-Headed Step-Child Of Everyone’s Home
Gutters seem to be the last thing a homeowner is willing to spend their money on, but they are essential for protecting your home’s foundation. Of course, some homes need gutters more than others but, if your home is equipped with gutters, it isn’t because the builder thought it would be fun to spend extra money. They are there because you need them, and gutters that leak, overflow, or are in general disrepair might as well not be there at all for all the good they are doing.
Why Gutters Exist
Some might think that gutters exist to protect us from having to walk through an impromptu waterfall whenever we leave or enter our home during a rainstorm. While undeniably handy, that is not the purpose of your rain gutters. Instead, their job is to gather and redirect rainwater from the sides of your home or, more specifically, your home’s foundation.
Protecting Your Home
Without gutters, any home on an even grade and a roof with short overhangs will experience erosion along its foundation when it rains. This constant pounding from water sheeting off the roof will eventually cause the foundation to corrode and weaken. Gutter systems prevent this from happening by releasing the water away from the walls.
Gutters come in many shapes and sizes and are made from many different materials. Lifespans vary greatly, and so does the cost. While an often overlooked feature of houses, many available options exist for their aesthetic beauty, and some of the most durable materials can be downright gorgeous.
Gutters come in two basic types: Sectional and seamless. Sectional gutters are puzzled together from multiple pieces of varying lengths and shapes, using clips, snaps, or, in the case of certain materials, welds to hold them together.
Seamless gutters are manufactured on the spot using long aluminum sheets, galvanized steel, or copper. They are custom-fit to your home and can be molded into the shape of your choice.
Gutters come in a handful of types: Half-Round, Box, K-Style, Victorian Ogee, and Fascia. Within these basic types are many variations that give you a seemingly endless array of options for the shape of your gutters. Each gutter type has its strengths and weaknesses, as described below:
- Half-round – A gutter system that is pleasing to the eye and usually paired with rounded downspouts. Half-round gutters are limited in the amount of water they can handle and are not recommended in areas that experience heavy rainfall. Always paired with round downspouts.
- Box – Box gutters are simply that, box-shaped gutters. They do well in areas with heavy rain due to their deep wells, which can move more water than other styles, but they are not considered terribly pleasing to the eye.
- K-Style – So named for the stepped “K” shape of its profile, the K-style gutter is the most common modern gutter and has been for decades. The deep well of this style can handle heavy rain easily, and there are many varieties to choose from with varying numbers of steps in their profile. These are most often paired with rectangular downspouts.
- Victorian Ogee – Modeled after the cast iron gutters of the victorian era, these gutters are also visually appealing but not efficient at moving water. Deep well versions exist without quite the same beauty as the original designs. The matching downspouts are usually round.
- Fascia Gutters – These have a flattened backplate to make attachment to your home’s fascia easy and eliminate the need for supportive straps. They have a certain stylish appeal and come in a wide variety of shapes. The downspouts are most often rectangular in shape.
Rain gutters can be made out of almost any material that stands up to the ravages of water and wind. Your choice of material will not only decide the price of your gutters but the labor expense as well, as some materials are easier to hang than others.
- Vinyl – An inexpensive and durable material, vinyl is a popular choice for rain gutters. It is, however, prone to cracking if a ladder is set against the gutter and will turn brittle in extreme cold. Vinyl is available in several colors and will take paint but will need continual maintenance to keep the paint looking fresh.
- Aluminum – Aluminum is the most popular gutter material due to its low cost. Its weakness is that it is easily dented and malformed by even mild impacts and can crack in extreme cold. It comes in multiple colors and takes paint so it can be matched to your home’s color with ease.
- Galvanized Steel – Steel is exceptionally rugged but prone to rust unless rigorously maintained. It can handle all types of weather and does not crack.
- Stainless Steel – Second only to copper in cost, stainless steel gutters are incredibly durable and will keep their shine for many years. Maintenance is minimal, even over decades of use.
- Copper – The most beautiful gutter material, copper, is virtually maintenance-free. These gutter systems are as exceptionally expensive as they are gorgeous. Over time, the copper color will give way to a greenish patina that in no way detracts from its beauty. Installation is also expensive as these gutters must be welded together.
- Wood – Rarely used except on historical buildings and homes, wood gutters are made from cedar, redwood, or fir. They are striking in appearance but prohibitively expensive and difficult to install.
There are many types of leaf guards, but the simplest and least expensive will still do the job. Leaf guards protect your gutters from getting filled with leaf and other debris, making it less likely that you will need to have your gutters cleaned annually.
Leaf guards also lower the likelihood of ice dams forming on the edge of your roof, which can help save you from thousands of dollars in damage to your home.
Like most everything else in or on your home, rain gutters are a carefully designed system designed to prevent damage to the other systems within your property. While it may be tempting to ignore them when they are in disrepair, you really should pay attention to their condition. Replacing your gutters is a much less expensive option now than replacing your foundation later.
If you need to replace the gutters on your New Hampshire home, contact us at Jancewicz & Son to schedule a free estimate.