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Gutters

Gutters are a necessity, rarely an option. They are designed to collect and divert the rain runoff from the roof of your house so as to avoid damage to the structure. Without functioning gutters, the runoff could flood your driveway or the ground around your house and cause basement leaking, damp walls, mold, and other hazards.

Here are some tips for choosing gutters for your home:

Material

Aluminum is, by far, the most commonly used material for gutters. Inexpensive and maintenance free, it is light, easy to work with and, like siding, comes in various colors. Although there are alternatives to aluminum (such as galvanized steel, plastic, copper and even wood), its wide acceptance and few drawbacks makes it the popular choice -- just don't lean a heavy ladder against it or it will bend and dent.

Piecing

There are two types of gutters: the sectional and the seamless. Available at your local hardware store are fixed length sections that you can install yourself. For a long run, you join several sections together and most likely cut the last one to get the proper length. However, piecing leads to the potential for leaks and the joints, and so professional installers will most likely use continuous (seamless) gutters, which will be custom made from a single piece to the exact length.

Shapes and sizes

There are two common shapes: the U shape and the K shape. The K shape (looks like a "U" except that the outer edge has a wavy shape to give it more strength and a better appearance) being the most common. In some cases, you may need an extra wide gutter. Whichever you chose, the more important consideration is the sizing of the gutters and leaders (downspouts). A short length roof section may need only one leader. A longer one may require two, one at each end. In all cases, remember to slope the gutter toward the leader to ensure proper flow; with two leaders, you will need a high point in the middle.

Maintenance

Finally, gutters require maintenance. If you have trees around your house, you will need to periodically clean your gutters to avoid blockage. Leaf guards are an easy and inexpensive way to reduce the maintenance.

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