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.
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.
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.
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.