Rain Gutter Basics: Choosing, Installing, and Maintaining Your Rain Gutters

Rain Gutter

Rain gutters protect topsoil, keep your siding looking good, and save your basement and foundation from water damage and other rain-related problems. But if you’re not familiar with rain gutters, the choices can seem daunting. Fortunately, that’s why we’re here. Read on for the basics of your rain gutter: what it does and what you need to do for it.

How Much Rain Do You Get?

The first question to ask for any gutter system is what it actually has to do. A house in Mesa is going to have very different needs from a house in Bangor. Find out the average rainfall in your area, and also calculate the square footage of your roof. That will tell you how much water you get, and how much surface area you’ll have to drain. The more water you get, the larger the gutter and downspouts you’ll need. Gutters come in 5,6 and 7 inch wide varieties, and each inch adds price, so do your math carefully!

Rain Gutter photoChoosing Your Rain Gutter

Rain gutters consist of two parts: the gutters and the downspouts. There are two types of rain gutter systems: seamless gutters and sectional gutters. They’re exactly what they sound like: seamless systems are in fewer pieces (there are still some seams for corners and downspouts, but fewer seams by far) while sectional systems are bolted to your house and soldered together, piece by piece.

Seamless systems are slightly preferable, as there are fewer ways for the system to break, but the downside is, they need to be professionally installed. You can install sectional rain gutters yourself and save on the cost, but you’ll need to do an excellent job, and will probably need help.

Secondly, choose materials. The most common type of rain gutters are steel gutters, but there are also copper gutters, zinc gutters, and aluminum gutters. Copper and zinc gutters are generally used only for specific types of houses, and can easily cost five figures for the material alone, but they do look more attractive. Aluminum is cheaper, but not as durable. Regardless of what you choose, get the thickest gutters you can afford: the thicker the material, the stronger and more durable it will be when subjected to the elements.

After you’ve chosen material, choose a size. Rain gutters come in 5, 6 and 7 inch wide sizes. Look up your area’s average rainfall, and consider the weather you live through. If there are a lot of rain storms or other precipitation, wider is better.

Next, there’s the type of rain gutter. The most popular configuration is the K-style rain gutter, but there are also square-shaped gutters and half-round gutters. The choice is more about the design of your house than anything else: all of these will work equally well, so choose one that looks good on your house, and comes in a color that matches your home.

Finally, consider the gutter coatings. You want gutters that will withstand as much water as possible, so look for waterproof coatings to ensure a long-lasting rain gutter.

Every month or so, go up on a ladder and clean out any litter or obstructions, and clean out the downspouts as well.

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Installing Your Rain Gutter

As mentioned before, seamless rain gutters can only be installed by a professional, while you can install sectional rain gutters yourself. Regardless of how it’s put in, however, there are a few things you need to do.

Check each seam carefully for leaks, by running a little water through it. Each seam should be soldered carefully and smoothly. Make sure sure the rain gutters are secured tightly to the edge of your roof. Double check to make sure water flows to the downspouts.

Maintaining Your Rain Gutter

Maintenance of rain gutters is fairly simple. Every month or so, go up on a ladder and clean out any litter or obstructions, and clean out the downspouts as well. Check your gutters for any wear on the paint or coatings, repainting and recoating as necessary. Check the bolts to ensure your gutter is still attached securely, and keep your roof as clean of litter and snow as possible. Do this and your gutters will last you for years.