From Gutters to Eavestroughs: Let’s Go Around the World

Guttering is so common in American construction that most of us don’t even notice the gutters protruding from homes or buildings. After all, there’s no more effective, cost-efficient way to move runoff water caused by rain, ice, and snow from the roof to an area where it won’t seep into the structure’s foundation. Gutter Helmet® can protect gutters on homes throughout most of the U.S., as well as in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and British Columbia.

But what about the rest of the world? How do they deal with runoff water on their buildings?

The answer to that question is complex, but there’s one thing that’s immediately apparent: gutters are referred to by different terms depending on the geographical location where they are installed. The most common synonym is eavestrough (or eaves trough), which is perfectly descriptive of both the shape and relative position of the gutters. Sometimes, eaves trough is shortened to simply trough. Elsewhere, people refer to gutters as drainpipes, rainspouts, waterspouts, or spouts.

The journey around the world to examine gutters in different locales starts with America’s neighbor and top trading partner: Canada. Though the word gutter can be found in the Great White North, they are more commonly known as eavestroughs there. But aside from the difference in terminology, most of the other aspects are the same as in the U.S. Eavestroughs can be made of aluminum, galvanized steel, copper, and other metals; and while the K-style shape is preferred, there are also half-round eavestroughs found across Canada as well.

Dipping into the southern hemisphere, gutters are also necessary in the nation with the largest rain forest in the world: Brazil. The Portuguese word for gutters is calhas, and they are very necessary for a nation that gets about 55.7 inches of rain per year (more than any U.S. state except Louisiana, Alabama, Hawaii, and Mississippi). In terms of materials, most Brazilian gutters are made with aluminum in the common K-style shape.

But that’s not necessarily the case across the Atlantic Ocean in England. Many of the homes and buildings there are outfitted with plastic gutters, which evolved after World War II when the use of plastics increased sharply. Also, some of the centuries-old buildings either have copper gutters, or even gutters that are made of concrete and “built-in” to the structure itself. (Ironically, the English call them gutters, not eavestroughs.)

Jetting east to the Baltics, a person wanting to know about gutters in Lithuania would have to call them by their widely-recognized name: latakas. Given how close Lithuania is to the Arctic Circle, residents can experience pretty extreme conditions in wintertime. For that reason, most gutters in Lithuania are plastic (and U-shaped) because the material is less likely to crack when the temperature is well below freezing.

Down in South Africa, the unique aspect of their gutters (which is what they are called) is one of the common materials used to make them. South Africans can have their gutters made out of ZincAlume, which is a metal that is half zinc and half aluminum, and supposedly resists corrosion and weather damage better than most other metals. Gutters here can be K-style or U-shaped, and are also found made out of aluminum, galvanized steel, or copper.

Finally, those people living “down under” have a wide range of materials to choose from in their gutters (again, no alternate name for them). Since the climate in Australia is more varied than people think, a building might have a gutter made out of anything from galvanized steel or zinc to aluminum or copper. In addition to K-style and U-shaped gutters, many so-called “box” gutters can be seen on Aussie buildings; these are simply rectangular troughs that better match structures with metal roofs.

Wherever there is precipitation, there will probably be gutters installed on buildings and homes. But North Americans are more fortunate than their global neighbors; after all, if they never want to clean their gutters again, they can have a Gutter Helmet® system put on their existing guttering. Isn’t America (and parts of Canada) great?

Photo credit (Lithuania): flag-zone.com