No matter where you live in North Carolina or elsewhere, you’ve come in contact with gutters. Interestingly enough, homeowners either hate or love them. But how so? Well, keeping them clean and functional can be quite tricky at times.
Nevertheless, they’re a key component of every home. They conduct rain and melting snow from your roof into the ground. By gathering water, gutters protect the top of your home as well as your foundation. They also keep the structural stability of the building intact.
Let’s take a closer look at gutters.
What Are Gutters?
Although you probably know what they are by now, we still think it’s best to start from the beginning. Namely, gutters are half-pipes that help in keeping water away from your home’s foundation. In most cases, they are placed on the edges of your roof.
When it comes to gutter types, you can split them into two categories — K and U types. Both types do their jobs well and are available in different materials, including aluminum and stainless steel.
Positioning the gutters will depend on two things: their pitch and the roof’s slope. The professionals who install them need to keep both in mind. Furthermore, gutter systems consist of two main parts. The first is the channel through which water runs and the second is the downspout that directs it into the ground.
It’s not uncommon for homeowners to overlook the size of their gutters. This can lead to numerous problems, like excessive amounts of water that can endanger your foundation. Therefore, it’s important to size them properly before installing them. Here’s what you should keep in mind before you do so.
- Roof length: Your roof’s length will determine the location of the downspout, expansion joints, as well as the ends and size of your rain gutters in general.
- Outlets: You should keep in mind the size, space, and number of outlets since they’ll also directly affect the sizing.
- Roof’s pitch: Keep an eye out for the pitch of the roof before sizing and installing new gutters.
Once again, besides their looks, you should remember that they’re available in different materials. All types have their pros and cons, so we’ll list them below.
- Aluminum gutters: If you’re on a tight budget, we suggest that you look into aluminum gutters. They’re affordable, light, and most importantly, rust resistant. Also, the cold weather won’t affect their function and efficiency.
Aluminum gutters come in many models, so you can choose the ones that suit the look of your home perfectly. However, the downside is that they’re not as strong as other models. And if you place your ladders carelessly on them, you’ll probably end up damaging them.
- Copper gutters: When it comes to quality, you shouldn’t look further than copper. As durable as steel, copper models will work perfectly and keep your foundation free of copious amounts of rain and melting snow. The only con is that copper half-pipes are expensive and might not suit low and midrange budgets.
- Vinyl gutters: If you’re looking for the most popular drain systems, vinyl should be your first pick. It’s affordable, durable, and easy to install. All its properties make vinyl gutters favorites among homeowners. They also come in sections, which are easy to snap together.
- Stainless-steel gutters: Similar to copper half-pipes, stainless-steel gutters are pricy. The reason is pretty simple; they’re almost indestructible. In addition to their strength and durability, they don’t rust or deform over time. Their only downside is, again, their high price tag.
- Wooden gutters: It’s rare to see wooden drains these days, except maybe in some old, historical homes. Homeowners are opting for other types because they’re easier to maintain, install, and age better.
The Installation Process
The installation process isn’t something you’d want to do yourself. It’s best to leave it to the professional roofing contractors or gutter specialists as they’ll make sure everything goes to plan. Either way, it’s important to install gutters in a way that will allow them to quickly drain the water. Pitching them 1/16” per foot (or more) with the highest side farthest from the downspouts will do that. Such a position will allow the water and melting snow to drain into the ground faster.
When it comes to the type of gutters you’ll need, keep in mind that you can directly screw in K-styled. The half-round or U-styled gutters will need to rest in brackets. Also, professionals might use straps to keep them in place.
But what about aesthetics? Even if looks are important for most homeowners, you shouldn’t favor them over functionality.
Repairs and Maintenance
To avoid costly damage and subsequent repairs, it’s essential to keep an eye on your gutters. One of the first things you should look out for is how loose they are. If that’s the case with your drain system, you should probably replace the screws.
On the other hand, if you’re having trouble with clogs, run your hose through the gutter. If your gutters have been damaged, repair them quickly with caulk.
During the winter, it’s not uncommon for gutters to freeze. If they do, you might have trouble with water pooling near your foundation. You can flush your drain half-pipes before the cold weather arrives or you can install heating elements across your drain system to heat it during winter.
Unfortunately, these aren’t all the problems you might face. If you have galvanized-steel gutters, you should worry about rust. The coating can wear off, leaving your half-pipes with no protection against water and air. You can mend the problem with spray finish, at least temporarily.
Use Professional Help
Gutters are essential in the care, keeping, and waterproofing of your home. But they’re just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to protecting your home. For assistance with other waterproofing solutions, contact the expert team at Tar Heel Basement Systems for a free inspection and repair quote. Once one of our experienced inspectors evaluates your home, he will recommend the best measures to keep water out of your basement and foundation.