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Why are gutters important and what do they protect?

Posted on February 20, 2018 by Patrick Sheehan

There is one part of your home that fails to get the attention and respect that it so richly deserves. While windows and doors can keep you secure and let you enjoy the view, I submit that there’s an item on your home right now that is almost designed to be forgotten about. It handles a multitude of tasks and asks so little from the homeowner in return. Presented for your consideration; the humble gutter.

It all begins with rain. When a raindrop first comes in contact with your home, in most cases that would be on the roof, it has options. From there it can end up any number of places and most of them you wouldn’t like. A leaky roof and you have water damage either in your attic or somewhere else inside your home. If the roof isn’t damaged, rain rolls off the edge. When that drop makes next stop, it can be controlled. Do nothing and water pools around your home’s foundation, slowly headed for your basement or crawlspace. That’s where the gutter gains its’ importance.

Rain gutters have been in use since the ancient Romans who carried the concept to the British Isles where the Tower of London was fitted with them in 1240. Materials ranging from stone and wood to lead and iron have been used over the centuries, but the basic design elements haven’t really changed that much.

It consists of the gutter, endcaps, downspouts, mitres and pipes. The gutter itself is attached to the eaves or fascia boards of the roofline. It travels the horizontal edge of the roof using mitres of various angles to continue along until it comes to the point a downspout is called for. It then transitions to a vertical pipe, running down to the ground.

Gutter protection systems are a relatively recent trend designed to keep debris out of your gutters and only allow water in. This can include leaves, sticks, pine cones and needles. Even small animals have tried to make a home inside plugged gutters with very messy results.

Gutters carry water way from your roof and how well they perform is a function of several elements. This includes the square footage of your roof and the incline or pitch, the length of the edges and the number of different roof styles and how they meet on your home. Standard or five inch gutters are primarily used in residential settings. Oversized or six inch gutters can be thicker, carry more volume than Standard and can be used on homes with larger roofs and more complex designs.

Getting rain from your roof into the gutter is simple enough. Deciding what to do with it next can get complicated. Managing that water correctly depends on your specific circumstances. Are you in the city or suburbs? Do you have a landscaped yard or neighbors close by? There are different ways to distribute rainwater or even capture it for later use.

The one place you do not want water is inside your basement or crawlspace. The best way to avoid that issue is comprehensive water management and that begins with a correctly installed gutter system designed exclusively for your home.

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