As is the case with most elements of a well-constructed roof, the primary purpose of rain gutter systems is to direct rainwater and melting snow away from the sides and foundation of a house. This prevents a myriad of different types of water damage, preserving the look and the structural integrity of the house. Aluminum gutters are the most common type of rain gutter, since they are lighter and more rust-resistant than steel.
Rain gutters are mounted on the underside of the edge of residential roofs, in order to catch all of the water that flows off of the roof. Various factors are important to consider when choosing the type of rain gutter to install. First and foremost, the thickness of the aluminum to be used must be considered. For long-lasting, rigid aluminum gutters, a thickness of .032 inches (.081 mm) will do the job. Any thinner than this, and the metal can sometimes dent or bend when a ladder is set against it.
Another factor for consideration when installing aluminum gutters is the desired appearance of the result. Aluminum gutters come in various shapes, from a square or box style, to evenly rounded on the bottom. Additionally, some gutters are made to be “seamless,” meaning that they are made of one continuous piece rather than several pieces joined together. Many builders and homeowners find that seamless aluminum gutters make for a pleasant appearance, low maintenance, and improved functionality.
For long-lasting aluminum gutters, choosing the correct paint or finish for the metal is a crucial step. Aluminum gutters with a baked-on finish are known to wear better than their steel counterparts. These can be cleaned from time to time with mild soap and water to increase their lifespan. Gutters should also be cleared periodically of leaves and other debris to prevent clogging. All gutters deteriorate over time and need repainting or replacement as the homeowner sees fit.
Gutters take more abuse from extreme weather than most other roofing materials. In effect, they take the damage and strain so that other, more essential parts of the house don’t have to. Houses without gutters can suffer from erosion problems in the foundation or basement during times of heavy rains. The constant splashing of dripping water can also damage the outside walls of the house, and poorly maintained gutters can lead to the same problems. Water that drains through rain gutters can also be directed to areas of vegetation near the home, providing a free source of irrigation for landscaping elements.