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Gutters & Downspouts

by Don Vandervort, © HomeTips

Gutters and downspouts drain the water shed by a roof away from the house. Without them, water would sit on the roof or run down the walls, cracking the paint and otherwise damaging the siding. Water can also cause window frames to swell and decay over time and undermine a house’s foundation.

gutters parts diagramGutters and drainage systems handle rainwater removal to keep these things from happening.

Gutters, long troughs that catch water at the eaves, slope slightly toward downspouts, which pipe the water to the ground. Depending upon the drainage situation around the base of the house, water is then routed into belowground drainpipes or other means of dispersing it away from the foundation. To catch both runoff and ground water, perforated drainpipe, run in a gravel-filled trench, provides the path of least resistance for water. The pipe drops at a minimum slope of 1/2 inch per foot.

Gutters may be made of wood, aluminum, galvanized sheet metal, copper, or vinyl. Extruded “seamless” aluminum gutters are one of the most popular professionally installed types today; these are fabricated on site. Another popular system employs 10-foot vinyl sections joined by a range of fittings.

Be sure your downspouts expel water well away from your house. If necessary, add downspout extenders that run horizontally and carry the water away. Also consider concrete or plastic splash blocks, slightly sloped and extending away from the house at least 4 feet.
gutter profiles
Guttersgutter hangers
A gutter’s profile is dependent on the material used to make it. Wooden gutters are milled; sheet-metal gutters are formed; aluminum and vinyl gutters are extruded.

Depending upon the type of system it is, gutters are either hung from the sheathing along the eaves before the roof is shingled or nailed to the fascia with a clip hanger or spike-and-ferrule hanger (rooftop hangers are more secure and less visible).

To get free recommendations for top-rated local contractors, call the most reliable and comprehensive referral service, HomeAdvisor, at 866-350-2983 (toll free).

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