Rain gutters and their associated downspouts are the silent heroes of your home. They work quietly and efficiently to save your home from the ravages of all of that evil water that falls from the sky, and you never give them a word of thanks or even a solitary thought — until they break. Even then, they’re not valiant heroes in need of a medic and a shot of whiskey; they’re a royal pain in the butt for needing repair and consideration. How fair is that?
Let’s take a look at what you need to know in order to give your gutters the affection they deserve.
What They’re Made Of
Rain gutters are classically divided by the material that composes their structure. The most common choices are aluminum, steel, copper, vinyl, and wood. Vinyl, while cheap, is prone to short lifespans, and isn’t recommended by anyone. Wood, once the only kind of gutter, is just starting to become popular again, as it can last even longer than metal gutters — but only with proper maintenance. Steel is great for areas of low humidity. Aluminum is the second choice to steel for high-humidity areas. And copper, while often shunned for its high price, lasts longer than either of the other metals and looks beautiful besides.
How They’re Shaped
There are two major styles of gutter shape — half-rounds, and the “K” style, which is essentially rectangular. They also come in various widths/diameters, from 4 to 7 inches, with 5 being usually the norm for most typical areas, and 7 only really coming into play if you live under heavy tree cover and can regularly expect to have live squirrels using your downspouts as waterslides. Speaking of downspouts, they’re generally an inch or two smaller in diameter/width than your gutters.
How They’re Hooked Up
Duct tape, while it may resemble the Force in many respects, actually isn’t that great of a way to attach gutters to your home. Spike-and-ferrule systems, which essentially nail your gutter to your house, are cheap but they come out easily. Depending on your roof, you will generally want to go with a hidden-hanger, hanger-and-strap, or crossbar hanger system.
If you intend to keep good care of your home, you have to start by getting your gutters checked and possibly get a good gutter cleaning company to come out and give them a professional once-over.