Rain gutters are critical components of a house as they protect both the roof and the foundation from moisture damage by channeling water from the roof away from the house.
A heavy rain, flowing down house walls to the ground below can cause a great deal of damage. At the very least, it taxes paint and wriggles into cracks, contributing to eventual, long-term decay. At its worst, it foils windows, invades walls, and undermines foundations.
Types of Gutters
The standard square-edge gutter, also called the "box" style, has sharp, square edges, and is commonly used on a lot of commercial sites.
The "ogee detail" gutter, also called "K-style," resembles an exterior crown molding. It's slightly more decorative, giving your home's exterior a more finished look.
PVC Gutters: PVC, or vinyl, is a tough, maintenance-free, moderately priced popular with newer installations. Vinyl gutter systems are favored by some because they are lightweight and can be easily snapped or glued together. However, vinyl gutters are not recommended for hot, sunny climates where they tend to become brittle, crack and fail quickly.
Aluminum Gutters: Aluminum is a moderately priced and rust-resistant material popular with newer installations. It comes unfinished or factory-painted. The downside is that aluminum tends to leak at joints because the metal expands and contracts too much for sealant to hold permanently. It also dents easily.
Galvanized Gutters: Galvanized gutters are strong and inexpensive, although they can rust.
Copper Gutters: Copper is an expensive material that is strong, durable, rust-resistant and nearly maintenance-free. Copper gutters will weather green unless you coat it with a clear sealant. It also needs to be installed by a professional.
Gutter Repair and Maintenance
When gutters fail, you need to evaluate the type and extent of damage in order to select the best repair method. Some minor repairs you can do yourself.
For metal gutters, small leaks can be sealed with gutter caulk. Flashing and roofing cement can patch moderate damage.
Gutter patching kits are also available at hardware stores and they are useful for making temporary small repairs.
Of course, keeping your gutters free of debris and leaves (use a trowel if you do it yourself) and flushing out clogged downspouts is essential. Mesh gutter guards will also help prevent clogs in the future.