Gutters serve a valuable purpose for homes. They work to keep the homes protected from moisture and to guide drainage away from a home's foundation.

1. How To Care For Your Gutter

Caring for gutters is something many homeowners neglect, but it is an important job. Though we have come to see gutters as an add-on to houses, they have much functional value. They keep the house from being damaged by precipitation and falling leaves. That makes caring for your gutter an important part of keeping your house in good shape.

Once a year, preferably after the season with the most precipitation in your area, you should go outside and inspect the rain gutters. You do not have to break out a ladder, though that certainly is acceptable if you want. You really just need to walk around the house and look at the gutters. Make note of any dents or places where the joints seem to be coming apart. Work on fixing these problems immediately.

Also make sure your gutters get cleaned on a regular basis. In most cases, you will need to clean them twice in the fall, especially if you have a lengthy autumn season. Your gutters should be free of any debris, and you need to check them after heavy rains or very high winds. Getting the gutters clogged could mean a build-up of debris in the rain gutters. Making sure to take time to check out the gutters can save in repair costs for your home.

2. How To Clean Gutters

Cleaning and removing debris from gutters are not exactly the same process. Removing debris means getting out leaves and other big items, but cleaning the gutters is a bit more complex and should be done on a regular schedule. Cleaning the gutters involves getting some type of hose attachment, or just using your water hose if that is all you have. First, you will need to prop a ladder on your home's exterior. Then, you should climb up to take a look in the gutters.

Check out any blockage in the gutter system. Use your gloved hands to remove any major items, and then set about using the hose to clean in the gutters. You will need to use a hose or nozzle with a good deal of water pressure. Sometimes, even a smaller power washer can be used. Simply put the nozzle into the gutter system and allow the water to flow through.

This water is cleansing and should break up any clumps of dirt if you are using a strong spray. Watch the water flow from the gutter to the downspout. If your gutters are clear, you will notice a stream of water coming down and flowing into your yard. Anytime you do not see this free-flowing water, climb up to clean whatever is blocking the gutter system.

3. Why Rain Gutters Are Needed

Rain gutters are one of the most under appreciated parts of a home's exterior. Most people focus on the siding, or the windows and their shutters, but the rain gutters do the most protection work for a home. Moisture is one of the most damaging elements to a house, because so many parts of the house are made from wood and other materials that do not do well when wet. Rain gutters are the house exterior's main protection from this water.

Rain gutters run along the edge of the roof. Sometimes, rain gutters match the coloring of a home as if they are an accent piece. Other times, rain gutters are intended to be more invisible. They are a color that blends in with the surroundings. Either way, rain gutters perform the same function on a house.

When it rains, the gutters on the home act as conduits for the water. The water hits the gutters or the roof and falls down the slope into the gutters. The gutter system runs together with jointed pipes and leads to a downspout. Most houses have four downspouts because they have one on each corner of the house. The water rushes into the spout and goes down it. The rain gutters keep rain from settling on the house or seeping into cracks.

4. Installing A Rain Gutter

Rain gutter installation is a complicated task. It requires patience and coordination that allow for holding up the gutters, while at the same time screwing them in. Getting the rain gutters aligned properly with the home exterior also is an important part of installing new gutters.

The first task you will have is purchasing the right size gutters. The basic sizes are three, four, and five inch. Most people opt for the smaller gutters because they are less expensive, but spending more money on the larger gutters actually may save in the long run. The gutter size indicates the width of the gutter, and the larger widths can keep out more debris. They are less likely to get clogged.

The next step to installing rain gutters is to find the right mounting system. Some gutters use a simple screw or large spike to hold the gutter in place. These systems are simplest, but they will need to be replaced the fastest. They are dependent on the home's exterior staying in good shape. Other gutter systems use a hanger-type approach and are more complex to install. They tend to last a long time, however, and are great for new roofing projects when the gutters are expected to stay in place for decades. Either system requires strong hands and detail.

5. Selecting Home Gutters

Three issues are key to the selection of a gutter system for your home. The first issue is the amount of money you have to put toward rain gutters. Saving up until you can purchase a more expensive system may sound acceptable, but can lead to damage to your home if left through too many rains. Gutters come in very inexpensive plastic-like models up to pricy copper versions. Your budget will determine the type of gutters you can purchase.

The second consideration is how handy you are. Selecting a gutter system for your home exterior is a process that involves good dexterity. If two people are able to work on the gutter system, then you have more latitude. For some of the hanger or pulley installation gutters, though, one person would have a tough time completing the job. Nail systems will be easier for a single person to install.

The third major issue is how much precipitation you get in your area. The purpose of rain gutters is to keep moisture away from the home as much as possible. While the wide gutters are less likely to get clogged and thus more likely to protect your home, in areas with little to no rainfall, buying them may be a waste. Instead, focus on the smaller, more attractive gutters.

6. How Gutters Protect Your Home Exterior

Gutters protect your home exterior in two major ways. First, they keep moisture out as much as possible. Gutters work by forming a piping system along your roof and into your yard. This system allows water to run down the slope of the roof and then into the gutters. These gutters also collect leaves and other debris. While cleaning out the gutters may not be fun, the collection of leaves keeps them from rotting on the roof of the house and risking more damage. Because the roof is vital for keeping a home in good condition, keeping as much moisture from collecting on it as possible can allow the roof to last longer before repair or replacement is needed.

The second way gutter systems protect a home's exterior is by channeling the runoff into a drainage system and away from the house. The foundation of a house is surprisingly fragile. Though it holds the house, the concrete material making up the foundation can crack or bulge over time. Water getting into any crevices causes the problem to worsen and leads to major home damage. Gutters move the water from the home by connecting to a draining system that leads water away.

7. How A Gutter System Helps Drainage

Draining water away from a home can help protect the home. Water seeps into the ground around the home anytime it rains. While this rain may not cause major damage, as the ground becomes saturated from water seeping into it, then the gutter system becomes more valuable. Water soaks into the ground with any precipitation. For crops, this water is useful, and even for home lawns, the water keeps the ground in good condition.

When the ground has too much water in it, however, the ground has nothing to do with the excess water. The water goes anywhere it can fit, and unfortunately for many homeowners that means the water seeps into crevices in the foundation of the home.

Without a rain gutter system on your home, all the rainwater that lands on the roof eventually would fall off onto the ground just around the home exterior. This water would add to the problem of ground saturation by putting even more water in an already overburdened area.

For most homes, the rain gutters connect with a drainage pipe after going through the downspout. This drainage pipe may lead to the driveway, or it could lead into the street to connect with public water works. Either way, the water is not going into the ground just outside the house anymore.

8. How To Use Gutter Guards

One the major complaints people have about gutters is that they capture leaves and other falling debris. While this catching of leaves is useful in that the leaves are not just sitting on the house, it is not a fun job to clean out the leaves. That unpleasant chore leads many people to purchase gutter guards.

A gutter guard, or leaf guard, system is usually some sort of plastic contraption. It hooks onto the existing gutters and should snap into place. In some systems, you may have to attach the gutter guards with screws or other materials. Once the guard is in place, it works to keep leaves from getting into the gutter.

Instead of falling and possibly landing in the rain gutters, the leaves will fall on top of the gutter guards. The leaves then will fall off on their own, or the homeowner may have to brush them away at some point. Even if the homeowner has to get the leaves off the guard, it is an easier task to knock them down rather than cleaning out the gutters.

Be careful when buying gutter guards, however. Purchase ones that are easily removable if needed and still allow the water to get into the gutter easily. Be sure to check the guards every few months for caught debris.

9. Getting A Gutter Installed

Seamless gutters are a popular choice among people who want a top-notch gutter system. Seamless gutters do not permit any water to pass-through the joints in the pipes, which eliminates a problem many people have with their gutter systems. Seamless gutters are much more expensive, however, and they require a professional for installation.

Should you want to get a gutter system installed, be sure to do a thorough check on any professionals you are considering hiring. Because installing gutters does not require any type of licensing, practically anyone can own this type of business. Be sure to ask for references for people whose gutters the company has installed. Ask those people questions about the quality of the work and the time it took.

Ask questions about the type of material being used. Some seamless gutter installers will use less expensive materials, such as smaller coils, to get the total cost down for you. These systems will not last as long, however, and are not as good. Check out all the materials the company will use before agreeing to their terms. A rain gutter system is an expensive project, and one you should research well before buying. Quality companies will guarantee their work and can give you appropriate estimates for the length of time needed to complete the entire task.
Regional Articles
Related Articles
- Preventing Basement Floods
If walking down to the basement leads you to a wading pool of water, you have a leak that needs fixing before more damage is done. Preventing these leaks is the best way to fight moisture in the basement. Some methods are as cheap as buying dirt and can keep you from constant cleanups or costly mold remediation.
- Fall Maintenance Checklist
- Dealing With a Bee Problem
- Flooring Options
- Home Upkeep Tips
- Concrete Contractor