Gutters channel water away from the foundation. That’s their job. Without gutters, houses are likely to be flooded, water damaging the property. But even with gutters, it’s important to look for clogs and mechanical difficulties, else the gutters overflow and water seeps into the house through the facade.
Here are some tips on how to clean and manage gutters.
First, there are downspouts. A downspout is a pipe that carries water from the gutter onto the ground or asphalt surrounding a home. It’s often called a water pipe, down pipe, drain spout, roof drain pipe, or leader, depending on the area.
Maintenance of the downspout is critical. Water accumulates on top of the roof, then fills in the gutters. If the downspout is not properly maintained and cleared, water will become clogged and spill over the top of the gutters. This goes onto the property, possibly into the house and damaging items.
Downspouts come as either round or square and have a width of three inches to six inches. The most common sizes are rectangular: either two by three inches or three by four inches. You need a downspout ever 30 or 40 feet of gutter. For better performance, try increasing the amount of downspouts.
The gutter itself. Most residential gutters come in two sizes, five inch or six inch, and are made of aluminum, steel, zinc, vinyl, or copper and come in the traditional ‘K’ style. In general, K style gutters have twice the capacity of their half-rounded cousins of the same width and cost up to 50% more per linear foot.
The typical five inch K-style gutter comes with two by three inch downspouts. A large residential gutter would consist of six inch K-style cutter with three by four inch downspouts.
A common problem with gutters–and more on the material of the gutters later–is simple: a clog. Gutters can become clogged with twigs, leaves, and standing water, rendering them useless when a big storm arrives.
To prevent this, clean your gutters once or twice a year, being careful to remove all the leaves and twigs that can get in the way of clean water flow.
But if not, it’s always possible to call a clean gutters service, which can even go for a clean downspout service. For more heavy duty issues, consider calling a company that does gutter repair and cleaning. If your gutters are falling apart, consider calling a company that can replace gutters.
It’s important to note that if you have consistent trouble maintaining the cleanliness of your gutters, you can install gutter covers, which are small mesh covers that keep out debris while still allowing water to come through and exit through the downspout.
Back to gutter materials.
There are three types of gutter materials covered here.
Aluminum gutters are available seamless or in sections. They are held together with rivets and screws and sealed with caulk. There is lightweight (.025 inches thick) and middleweight (.027 inches thick); these unfortunately are prone to bending and denting. Heavyweight (.032 inches thick) lasts longer, about 25 years.
Zinc gutters last 30 to 50 years, depending on how close the zinc is to saltwater. The seams are soldered and the process is more difficult than copper. It is vulnerable to acidic run off from cedar-shingled roofs.
Copper gutters never rust or need painting and can last 100 years in any climate. It’s available in seamless or in sections and comes in three weights: 16, 18, or 20 ounces. Seams should be soldered.
One of the most vulnerable areas of the house is the deck.
Many companies offer both gutter cleaning and deck cleaning services. Deck cleaning services remove the debris from the deck, may also employ commercial cleaning tools, including a powerful washer, and work to keep your deck in presentable shape. Deck cleaning services combined with gutter cleaning hit the whole backyard area.
If you have a deck and it’s time to clean your gutters, consider getting a company that does both gutter cleaning and offers deck cleaning services.
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