|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
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.
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.
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