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Everything You Need to Know About Gutters

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You probably have a general sense of what gutters are. But do you know how vital they are to protecting the structural integrity of your roof and home?

Without gutters, your home could be left vulnerable to roof leaks, water damage, mold, and even premature roof failure. Learning about your gutter system can help you avoid these issues and leave you more knowledgeable about maintaining the quality of your roof.

On Tops Roofing has provided high-quality roofing services to homeowners in Raleigh and the surrounding areas for over 30 years. Whether it be gutter repairs or roof maintenance, we want to make sure our homeowners understand every part of their roofing experience. That’s why we came up with this list of everything you need to know about your gutter system.

By the end of this article, you’ll know what gutters are, what they’re made of, the difference between sectional and seamless gutters, the importance of gutter maintenance, and how a quality gutter system protects your home. Let’s get into it.

WHAT Are Gutters?

Gutters are one of your home’s best defenses against rain and water damage. During a storm, they effectively channel water off your roof, through the downspouts, and away from your home. Without a gutter system, rain will likely collect on your roof and cause rot, deterioration, or mold. This collection of water can also weaken your shingles, soffit, and fascia.

Seamless Gutter Diagram

Gutters also prevent water from pooling around your home’s foundation. When gutters are clogged, excess water can overflow and collect around the foundation of your home. If unaddressed, this can cause cracks that lead to structural damage. This can weaken the overall integrity of your foundation and cause potential flooding in your basement.

WHAT Are Gutters Made of?

Gutters are typically made with either vinyl, steel, aluminum, or copper. Here are some of the pros and cons of each type:

    • Vinyl - These are the most affordable type of gutters. Unfortunately, they aren’t the most durable. Vinyl gutters can crack in cold weather and melt under long-term sun exposure. They’re also installed in sections as opposed to seamlessly.

      vinyl gutters
    • Steel - Tougher than vinyl, you can depend on steel gutters to handle heavy storms. However, steel rusts, which is a big problem for something that’s supposed to contain water. Steel gutters need to be checked regularly and maintained frequently.

      steel gutters
    • Aluminum - These gutters are a popular choice among homeowners. They are lightweight, tough, and won’t rust like steel. However, aluminum gutters are prone to crack with rapid temperature changes so they still require periodic inspections and maintenance.

      aluminum gutters
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    • Copper - This is the material of choice for homeowners who want high-quality gutters for their homes. Copper is incredibly durable and won’t rust. As they age, copper gutters will develop a beautiful blue-green patina. Copper gutters are recommended for homeowners who want their homes to be historically authentic.

      copper gutters

Sectional Gutters vs. Seamless Gutters

When choosing your gutters, you’ll likely be given two different options: sectional or seamless.

  • Sectional gutters - These gutters are installed in sections that have been joined together and sealed. This makes them vulnerable to leaks due to the number of joints and seams they contain. Sectional gutters also clog more easily because leaves and debris tend to get caught in their joints and seams.

  • Seamless gutters - These gutters don’t have any joints or seams because they’re made from a single piece of metal, which makes them much less likely to clog or leak. Seamless gutters are also custom-made to conform to your home’s specific measurements. They tend to be the top choice for homeowners who are looking for a high-quality, low-maintenance gutter system.

    Seamless gutters come in two different sizes: 5-inch and 6-inch. If you have an average-sized house, you’ll likely only need a 5-inch gutter. However, if you have a bigger house–and therefore a bigger roof–you’ll probably need the 6-inch gutter to handle a larger quantity of water.

If a roofing company offers to install sectional gutters on your home, you should steer clear from that decision. Most reputable roofers only install seamless gutters, as sectional gutters cause too many issues.

The Importance of Gutter Maintenance

If your gutters aren’t properly maintained, they won’t be able to protect your home. For example, leaves, debris, and other matter can clog your gutters and prevent them from draining properly. Water can then build up in your gutters and eventually overflow, causing damage to your home’s siding and foundation.

Heavy storms can also cause water to overflow out of clogged gutters and pool at the edge of your roof. If not taken care of, this exposure to water can cause shingles to curl or buckle. When shingles are compromised, water can seep underneath and damage the roof’s decking, leading to mold, decay, and interior water damage in your attic and ceilings.

Here are several warning signs that your gutters need to be cleaned as soon as possible:

  • Rain Overflow - One of the first indicators of clogged gutters is when water begins to spill and splash over the sides of the system. This causes water to go everywhere it shouldn’t: on the siding, into the roof, around the foundation of your home, etc.

    gutters overflowing during heavy rain

  • Sagging - The weight of stagnant water and soggy debris can cause your gutters to sag. This is both unsightly and a massive safety hazard. To protect your home’s curb appeal, replace your gutters when they begin to warp or show too much damage.

    sagging, warped gutters

  • Stained Siding - If your gutters are clogged, water will travel along the eaves of your house and leak into the siding. This will leave water stains on your home’s exterior and eventually lead to warping.

    Stained siding

  • Standing Water - If you see pools of water around the foundation of your home, it may be smart to check your gutters. This could indicate that your gutters are clogged and water isn’t properly draining away from your home.

    A pool of muddy water at the base of a house

By the time you notice these issues, it could be too late. That’s why it’s so important to invest in periodical gutter maintenance. Whether it be cleaning debris out of the gutter and downspouts yourself or hiring a contractor to check them out as part of a roof inspection, you need to develop a regular maintenance routine.

Ready to Start Maintaining Your Gutters?

Now that you know the importance of your gutter system, there’s never been a better time than now to start working on your gutter maintenance. Taking care of your gutters is just one small part of an effective roof maintenance routine.

Roof maintenance is the periodical checking of all the vulnerable areas on your roof that could be susceptible to damage. It is critical to preventing roof problems and keeping your roof in good working condition for years to come. You can read this article to learn more about developing a roof maintenance routine that works for you.

If you live in Raleigh and need help with your gutters, give us a call! On average, we work with over 900 homeowners a year who are looking for a high-quality roofing experience, just like you. If you want a free roof inspection or to learn more about maintaining your gutters, don’t hesitate to fill out the form below. We’d be happy to help.

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