Rain gutters tend to be invisible work horses of your home. They perform an important function, directing rain water away from your home, but most of the time you don’t even realize that they are there.
If you have never really thought about whether your house had a gutter system before, it is probably time to really look up there and notice, especially if you have been experiencing water damage in your home and you don’t know why.
If you notice that you don’t have rain gutters and you haven’t notice any water problems in your home, you may be wondering if you really need rain gutters.
Gutters vs. No Gutters. Here is what you need to know.
First of all, not all homes need a gutter system. If you live in an arid climate and don’t experience periods of heavy rain, then it might not be necessary. But most homes do need a good rain gutter system to collect the storm water that lands on the roof and direct it away from the house to prevent damage to the structure of your home and to protect your foundation and driveway and sidewalk from pooling water on the sides of your home. And who wants to have to regularly clean out clogged gutters if you don’t have to?
Why Are Rain Gutters So Important?
Besides protecting the roof and the overall structure of your home, rain gutters also prevent soil erosion and protects your garden beds. With the rain gutters, the rain will just flow off your roof, washing away soil each time it rains causing soil erosion. And if you have garden beds built next to your home, the soil erosion will cause puddling of water to drown your plants and flowers.
Soil erosion is serious business. It can also cause your foundation to settle leading to uneven floors and cracked walls and cracks in the chimney.
If you get a lot of basement flooding and have rotting siding on your home, these also could be signs that you don’t have gutters and you should or you have gutters that are clogged or damaged.
Think You Need Gutters? Now What?
Rain gutters come in both DIY and professionally installed variety. DIY rain gutter systems are available in vinyl, sheet metal and aluminum at any of your local home improvement centers so you can put up the gutters yourself. Or you can have a professional gutter company come in and do the installation for you.
Look for these common measurements:
- U” shape or a “K” style
- Channels are usually 4, 5, or 6 inches in diameter
- Typically matching downspouts are 2-by-3-ince or 3-by-4-inch rectangular or 3- or 4-ince round pieces.
If you are going the DIY route than vinyl gutter systems are the most popular and easily found at any local home improvement store. If you’d like the gutters to be a particular color than aluminum gutters are your best bet because they can come in over 25 different colors. Another option is to use galvanized sheet metal. It is a lot more durable than the aluminum which is a plus, but would need to be painted the color you desire. While not used very often any more, gutter systems can also come in wood for older, historical houses.
If you decide to get your gutter system professionally installed, one of your options will be seamless gutters which prevents any leakage from seams. These types of systems are usually made from aluminum, copper or factory-painted steel.
Maintaining Your Rain Gutters Is Also Important
Maintaining your rain gutters is also important. For them to work properly, you need to keep the gutters and downspouts clear of leaves and debris and this takes regular maintenance. Either you have to climb the ladder and do it yourself or you need to hire a professional gutter cleaning company to do it for you. The rule of thumb is to clean your gutters at least twice a year, but more if you have a lot of trees hanging over your house or you live in an area that experiences a lot of storms.
If you have any concerns about safely climbing up and down the ladder, then your safest bet is to hire a professional cleaning company. If you are going to do it yourself, make sure you have a sturdy ladder and never ever stand on the top two rungs.
Ways to clean your gutters:
- A leaf blower or a hose– but make sure you wear goggles and a dust mask and heavy work gloves.
- Purchase a gutter cleaning kit that can connect to your leaf blower.
- Use a garden trowel or gutter scoop to clean it out by hand. For best results, start at the drain outlet near the low end of the gutter. Then just dump into a bucket to dispose of when you are all done. It is best to do it when the leaves are only slightly damp not real soggy.
Besides focusing on what is just in the gutters, also make sure to use the leaf blower to blow any leaves or debris off the roof itself so it doesn’t all end up in the gutters the next time it rains.
One product that can make maintaining your gutter system easier is TheSpoutOff. It is especially helpful if you have small rain gutter outlets because TheSpoutoff outlets are designed with a larger opening allowing for water to still run down even if other parts of the gutter are clogged. Another great plus is that these outlets are easy to keep clean through the removable downspout that allows you to check on the outlets without having to climb a ladder. With TheSpoutOff, a fear of heights or balance concerns will no longer keep you from properly taking care of your home and it is a lot cheaper than hiring a professional cleaner to come regularly to clear out all the debris.
The SpoutOff can be retrofitted to your current gutter system or it can be added to a new one, depending upon your needs. The instructions are relatively easy to follow so it is something you can easily install yourself, but any local gutter company can do it for you as well.