What Should I Consider When Getting Rain Gutters?

O. Wallace
O. Wallace
Coated in a protective layer of zinc, galvanized gutters are quite strong and usually can withstand any pounding that nature can bring, but may rust over time.
Coated in a protective layer of zinc, galvanized gutters are quite strong and usually can withstand any pounding that nature can bring, but may rust over time.

Good rain gutters are an integral part of a home's exterior. Old, damaged or defective rain gutters can cause a lot of damage. When a gutter clogs, the water is not diverted properly and overflows into either the house or foundation. This can cause wood rot, foundation problems and landscaping erosion. In addition to damage to your home, a rain gutter clogged with soggy leaves and debris is the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew, as well as mosquitoes and other pests.

Rain gutters must be cleaned out regularly.
Rain gutters must be cleaned out regularly.

When considering new rain gutters, a home owner must take several things into account: among them, price, aesthetics and how the rain gutter needs to perform depending on the area in which they live. Does the area have extreme temperatures, heavy snow and rain, or ice storms? Are there a lot of trees in the vicinity? All these questions need to be taken into consideration when deciding on what type of rain gutter system to install.

Open gutters can be clogged by snow.
Open gutters can be clogged by snow.

There are several different types of material used to make rain gutters. Vinyl, one of the most popular materials, has a lot of benefits. Vinyl gutters can be easily installed by the homeowner because they are simple to cut and configure. Because the color is actually part of the vinyl, these rain gutters maintain their color well. A vinyl gutter also maintains its flexibility, is dent resistant, and doesn't rust or corrode. The drawback to a vinyl gutter is that it is susceptible to brittleness with age and extreme cold. Vinyl is the most inexpensive choice in rain gutters -- the cost runs approximately US$3 to US$5 per linear foot installed.

Aluminum, another popular choice, is more prone to denting, but its color weathers well. It is very adaptable and most often used in seamless rain gutter systems. It is also an inexpensive option, running from about US$4 to US$8 per linear foot.

Backed up rain gutters can act as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Backed up rain gutters can act as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Less frequently used materials include galvanized and stainless steel, which typically run about US$20 per linear foot. Copper is also an attractive choice, but expensive at US$15 per linear foot. Copper also requires a more expert installer. Wood is another material used for rain guttering, most often in restoration projects.

The two main types of rain gutter systems are sectional and seamless. Sectional systems lend themselves more to do-it-yourself installations due to the high configurability of the parts. They are made up of either vinyl or aluminum sections that are fastened together.

A drawback of sectional rain gutters is that the joints are prone to developing leaks. Gutter add-ons, such as screens and filters, help these basic rain gutters stay clog free. A gutter topper is a covering which allows water to flow along a contoured "lip" which feeds into your rain gutter. This keeps debris and animals out of your rain gutter.

The second type of rain gutter system is the seamless rain gutter. This is a no-clog system which catches and routes water down and out while diverting leaves and debris to the ground. This type of rain gutter is quickly becoming a favorite choice due to its durability, seamless appearance and easy maintenance.

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Discussion Comments

Sporkasia

I have restored several old houses and I like the look of the old wooden gutters. No, they are not as efficient as the newer house rain gutters constructed from more modern materials, but the wood looks appropriate on older structures.

Animandel

I love the seamless rain gutters. With our old rain gutters, which were not seamless, we had to climb on the roof several times a year and remove debris from them. Climbing onto the roof was enough of a challenge, but removing some the contents caught in those gutters was much worse, very messy.

With the seamless gutters, rain gutter cleaning is a thing of the past. Also, the seamless ones look better, for whatever that is worth.

Drentel

I have never purchased or installed rain gutters, but I have been considering buying them for my current house. I found this article very helpful in making a decision.

I want rain gutters of quality at a good price, and I want something I can install without too much difficulty. Based on these considerations and what I read in the article, I am going to go with the vinyl gutters. I think they are exactly what I need.

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    • Coated in a protective layer of zinc, galvanized gutters are quite strong and usually can withstand any pounding that nature can bring, but may rust over time.
      Coated in a protective layer of zinc, galvanized gutters are quite strong and usually can withstand any pounding that nature can bring, but may rust over time.
    • Rain gutters must be cleaned out regularly.
      Rain gutters must be cleaned out regularly.
    • Open gutters can be clogged by snow.
      Open gutters can be clogged by snow.
    • Backed up rain gutters can act as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
      Backed up rain gutters can act as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.