Gutter systems play a critical role in keeping houses and other buildings in good shape. If your home's gutter system isn't catching and routing rainwater properly, you could end up with extensive roof damage due to rot, ice buildup, pest infestation, and mold infiltration. Before you make some much-needed upgrades to your gutters, however, allow these three important questions to guide your product and material selection.
1. What Standard Does Your Current Gutter System Use?
Does your current gutter system seem to overflow frequently, even though you do your best to keep it free of clogs? If so, you might have a system that uses overly narrow gutters. Most homes do well with gutters 5 inches in width, which is why two widths probably represent the lion's share of the products available in your local home improvement store. K-style gutters are the most common and adaptable gutter shape, but you can use any shape of gutter that fits easily to the lip of your roof, but choose a shape that includes an opening compatible with many types of gutter covers.
2. What Kind of Material Makes the Most Sense?
Gutters come in a range of materials, which can make your selection process more confusing than it needs to be. Metal gutters can offer many years of efficient service as long as they're protected with a finish that deters rust. (Steel struggles with rust, for instance, unless you pay extra for protective coatings.) One of the most eye-popping choices, copper, could add a perfect touch of luxury to an upscale home. For homeowners, however, aluminum provides an excellent combination of function, affordability, lightweight (which means less stress on the roof structures) and rust resistance. Vinyl gutters, which are also relatively affordable, maybe the easiest of all types to install.
3. How Will You Cover Your Gutters?
Gutters only work properly when they're free of dirt, leaves, nests, and other obstacles. If you're going to the trouble to upgrade your gutters, take the equally necessary step of fitting them with gutter covers. Some gutters come with their own built-in covers, while others require a separate purchase. Keep in mind that the larger the holes in your gutters covers, the more debris they will allow into the gutters -- ultimately defeating the whole reason for installing them in the first place. Micro-screen gutters permit only water and the smallest of particles, reducing the clogging risk. Do you live in an area that receives tons of ice and snow each winter? If so, ask your roofer whether you should install heated gutters or gutter guards. These products are designed to minimize the ice buildup that can clog or damage gutters.
All gutter systems are not created equal, nor are the roofs that must support these systems. Talk to your local roofing or home improvement expert about the smartest way to protect your valuable home against the elements!