Builders often don't install gutters on new homes as some owners want them and others don't. Gutters are meant to catch and direct the rain that falls on your roof … away from your home's foundation. That's because your roof represents a sizable area and rain water flowing naturally will dump an excessive amount of water right below the edge of the roof.
If too much water sits and soaks into the ground next to your foundation, you are likely to have problems at some point when the water finds small gaps into your home. Here are answers to the most common questions home owners ask about gutters.
What type of gutters should I install?
The big debate is traditional (assemble components) versus seamless gutters, which claim to eliminate leaks. The truth is seamless gutters still have seams at each end, and every time the gutter turns a corner. You should not buy “seamless” gutters just because they “don't leak.”
How do I select the correct gutters for my home?
You want to pick gutters based on how long they will last. The best aluminum gutters are .032 inches thick. Thinner materials can dent or crease when a branch or ladder hit it. Floating hangers allow the gutters to expand and contract (due to changes in temperature) which should reduce repairs.
What material and color choices do I have?
Aluminum gutters are a great product as they do not rust, are available in popular colors and can be painted to match other colors, i.e. your trim. While aluminum will not rust, it will corrode when it comes into contact with other metals like steel or copper so you have to separate these materials with rubber or heavy plastic. Copper gutters are also popular but more expensive.
What size gutters do I need, and how many downspouts?
5 inch gutters are the most common, and they work with downspouts that are 2 x 3 inches. A 2 x 3 downspouts can carry the average rainfall from 600 sq ft of roof area (a 3 x 4 inch downspout will handle twice the volume or 1200 sq ft, and require the larger 6 in gutters.) A common problem is too few downspouts so when in doubt, add an extra downspout. Do not forget to place strainers in the outlets to avoid clogs, as inevitably this is where the most time is spent cleaning gutters.
What about covered gutters, the kind that leaves do not get in?
These are referred to as “leaf covers” or “gutter guards.” They reduce the frequency you need to clean your gutters (fine silt will always find its way in) but more important, they will prevent clogged gutters and keep the water running freely. As long as the water is draining, the still water that is a breeding ground for mosquitoes will be eliminated and water will not spill over and cause potential problems to your foundation or siding.
How often do you need to clean gutters?
Each house is different, and cleaning is based on the number of trees around your house. With typical coverage, most houses need gutters cleaned twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. If you only have trees on one side of the house, the side without tree coverage may only need to be cleaned once a year. Leaf covers will reduce the frequency of cleaning even further but again, each house is different.
For more articles about exterior home maintenance projects, please review our home maintenance checklists where we offer suggestions based on the seasons, i.e. gutters are typically cleaned in the spring and fall depending on the types of trees around your home.