Everything you need to know about gutters

House gutters are essential for draining and re-routing rain off your roof and away from your home. Their most important function is to channel rainwater away from the foundation of your house, though gutters normally prevent water from collecting across your doors and windows after trickling down the siding.

Gutter Installation

While gutters will never be the most appealing part of your home's exterior, installing them in an out-of-the-way place and choosing paints or designs that will minimize unsightliness help you maintain a beautiful home and keep it protected. Most people choose aluminum gutters and paint them to match the rest of the house, helping those gutters blend in. Vinyl is the easiest to install and perfect for the weekend do-it-yourself homeowner. Other people choose copper gutters, which have a timeless and elegant appearance, especially with classic, upscale homes.

Advertiser Links for Gutters
[what's this?]

Whatever you choose, there is a variety of accessories you'll need for installing gutters properly. First, you need the guttering itself. A spike and ferrule is sometimes used to hold the gutter to the eaves of your roof. Then, you need the downspout, which attaches to the end of each individual gutter to carry water. Downspouts are usually held against the sides of the house with straps. The strap elbows allow your gutter to change direction in 45-degree increments.

A miter changes the directional flow of each gutter. An end cap can be used to stop a gutter's run, but normally you'll have a splash block, which is the piece that actually diverts the rainwater away from your home and its foundation. Finally, a gutter leaf guard will help minimize the amount of cleaning your gutters will need in the future, since it blocks some leaves from entering the gutter.

Cleaning Gutters

Unless you've bought seamless gutters, rain gutters need to be cleaned at least twice a year, and especially after major storms. Seamless gutters have many ways of keeping out leaves and twigs, but you should check the gutters for any soil or dirt deposits at least once a year.

Choose a dry day for gutter cleaning, which will make removing leaves and twigs from inside your gutters easiest. For best results, use a gutter scoop to clean around the downspout, and work your way up the gutter.

To test how well the gutters have been cleaned (and to rinse out anything remaining), run a garden hose through the gutter. The water should flow unimpeded in a steady stream.