There are two keys to a good roofing system. The first is, of course, the roof itself. The second, which a lot of homeowners overlook, is an effective drainage system, also known as the gutter
The route the rain takes as it touches down on your home is important. If not distributed correctly through an effective gutter system, the damages are costly. Many homes today still have the original gutters in place that typically get damaged or clogged over time. The unintended diversion of water causes mold/mildew in and around all parts of the house, rotten wood around the exterior edge, insect infestation, landscape erosion, and at worst, foundation deterioration.
The criteria in selecting the best solution includes your environment, pricing, and aesthetics. Since we have a number of options even for gutter systems, here are a few things to consider-
1. Know your environment
You need to start with knowing the area in which you live. What’s the average temperature? The average rainfall? The type of precipitation? How about the foliage around your home?
What kind of gutter system do others in your neighborhood use? What is the feedback on those systems? Did they put them up themselves or hire a professional? When armed with the right information, you’ll be better off when you go to make a change.
2. Know what’s available
Fortunately today there are all kinds of gutter systems on the market… and at affordable prices. If going it alone, the most popular type is Vinyl and can be easily found at the home improvement centers. The gutters must be cut to configure and can be installed by the homeowner. If you’re not a do-it-yourselfer though, I caution that this might not be the best option for you. Also, the drawback of a vinyl gutter is that it is susceptible to brittleness with age and extreme cold.
A tougher material, and still on most houses today, is aluminum. It can last for years and its color weathers pretty well, but is prone to denting (hail). When searching for options, you’ll still find aluminum as being the most recommended due mostly to price and longevity.
Wood is another material, which is most often chosen today for its aesthetic qualities, along with copper. Another option includes stainless steel…which as you can imagine, is the sturdiest option available.
Another important criteria is whether the systems are sectional or seamless. Do-it-yourself systems are sectional by nature as it allows the installer to put it together in pieces. Sectional types tend to be made of either vinyl or aluminum.
The natural disadvantage of a sectional rain gutter system is that the joints can develop leaks over time. Today’s systems though have some remedies, such as more secure sealants and fasteners. When considering sectional systems, ask the manufacturer about the joint issues and what remedies there are for avoiding problems down the road.
Seamless gutters systems don’t have a joint issue. Generally speaking, seamless systems are a better option as they can be custom fit for the home. The drawback however, is that it tends to cost more and you generally need to contract with a professional to put them up. If you go this route, then over time, you’ll benefit from the appearance and easier maintenance.
Unless there is no foliage around the home, I highly recommend getting gutter covers. These protective shields are placed over the top of the gutter systems to clear debris from mixing into the drainage and clogging up. (Foliage produces not only leaves and sticks, but dirt and even mud that can stop drainage eventually.) Some of the gutter guards can be snapped into place while others have been manufacturers into the gutters themselves for a complete solution.
3. Choose best option
Based on the environment in which you operate along with the many options that are available, choose a solution that’s best for you.
If you need some help, I always recommend talking to a couple of your neighbors or friends about it. I might also recommend you calling your insurance agent about it…not necessarily to see if you’ve developed damage but to find out what others are using. Generally, there’s a lot of good information where other consumers have spent a good amount of time on it.
The bottom line with whatever option you come up with is that a good gutter system can and will save you money in the long run. And I’m always willing to point out too that it will increase the value of the home too when it comes time to sell.