Why Homes Should Have Gutters?
Spikes, pipebands, zip screws, elbows, gutter sheet, zigzag elbows,
butterfly clips, dog leg elbows, funnels, scuppers and sleeves. One
might think that these words could possibly be associated with hair
styles, construction equipment, anatomy appendages, baking accessories
and kitchen utensils, clothing pieces and hair accessories. These terms
are all related to a very practical, useful and none descript home
accessory that should be installed on every home called GUTTERS! Gutter
is a noun, a trough or channel along or under the eaves of a roof, to
carry and divert rain water from the roof and away from the foundation
of the home.
There is not really much glam and bling to gutters. They certainly do not compare to new granite counter tops or new flooring or paint, but they sure do a super job in removing water runoff from your home…and that is why you need a gutter system. There is one important reason why and that is the main purpose of a rain gutter system will protect your home’s foundation by channeling water away from the foundation of the home. In doing so, the diverted rain water from heavy downpours will protect our clay base and expansive soils from swelling or shrinking, reduce erosion and prevent water from entering under your home and then causing settling or heaving and the foundation to crack. Leaks and cracks can develop in the homes exterior if water is not diverted away properly. Case in point, yesterday morning I received a call from a somewhat anxious and concerned homeowner. They experienced a water leak and when the water removal company pulled back the carpet, a large slab crack was discovered. In addition to this, tile was starting to crack. The homeowner called YCCA to ask for a resource to repair the crack in the slab. It is not just as simple as that. In talking with the homeowner, I asked if they had gutters installed on the home. “Yes” was the answer. I then asked if the downspouts have channeling water diverter components on them. The answer was “yes” with the exception of one corner of the home. Guess what, the corner of the home, coincidently where the slab crack was and the cracked tile did not have any component for diverting water away from the home. The water was seeping directly into the corner of the home at the foundation. Rain gutters are an important component to any home, old or new and with our transitional soil problems we have in some areas, gutters are a must and are a preventative measure for protecting building foundations.
Rain gutters can be constructed from aluminum, galvanized steel, vinyl, copper and all of these materials have different degrees of thickness or gauge. The thickness or gauge of the material is extremely important, so if you are thinking of installing gutters, make sure you compare apples to apples. Primary aluminum is the thickest and the most optimal thickness is .032, this is the maximum strength and the most durable. As much as we are all attempting to reduce our carbon footprint, recycle and conserve, please stay away from secondary aluminum, which is a recycled product that has a reputation for inconsistent thickness. There is a medium gauge thickness which is .027 and this is considered to be the standard builder-grade. The gauge tends to dent a little easier, and is more susceptible to damage from tree limbs, and can pull away from the home with heavy rain and snowfall. The lightest gauge is .025 and this material is for the very budget conscientious minded. Again, with a heavy rain, the gutter can pull away from the home and cause water to leak down behind the gutter onto the home and create problems.
Galvanized steel gutters are popular due to their moderate and budget pricing. Aluminum gutters are slightly more expensive and require less maintenance. Vinyl gutters are inexpensive and many do-it-yourself Saturday contractors take this project on. Copper gutters are the most expensive and have a beautiful and rich look; hey that is our bling and glam in gutters – handsome copper gutters!
There are sectional gutters and seamless gutters, box gutters, continuous gutters, many different colors of material or gutters can easily be matched to your homes exteriors. There are leaf protection systems that include screens or hoods.
Maintenance is a critical component for an operational gutter system and you should inspect your gutters at least once or twice a year. If you have a gutter system without a leaf protection system, it is important that you clean your gutters a couple times per year. Leaf buildup can create erosion, cause gutters to sag, become loose or bend. The area around the downspouts is where leaf and dirt build seem to occur first. Make sure the gutters have the proper drain slope to allow the water to flow out properly. Gutters should slope downward at least ¼” for every 5 to 10 feet of gutter. With periodic inspections and cleaning, gutters are relatively hassle free home accessories.
It is important to use a good quality licensed contractor for installing gutters. They will help you select the best price gutter system for your home, based on your budget and needs and roof line of the home. And as we always say, it is not always the lowest price that is the best. If bids are unbalanced, there are problems with the bids, and with gutters, the low bid may have quoted a lower gauge material. Again, gutters are an extremely important component to your home.