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Roof Gutters Parts 101: What You Need to Know

Posted by Kevin Leahy on February 13, 2018

roof gutter parts

If you love working with your hands or just looking to save money and have decided to install your own gutter system there is a lot you need to know. There are certain parts you need and you have to pick the right sizes and styles to get the exact look you are going for.

Check out this primer, Roof Gutter Parts 101: What You Need to Know.

Gutters

The most common materials used for rain gutters include aluminum, galvanized steel, vinyl, copper and wood. Aluminum and vinyl are the most popular because they are economical and very durable. You don’t have to worry about rust. Galvanized steel is a little bit more expensive and will eventually start to rust in about 20 to 25 years, but it is very strong and is a good choice if you are in an area with a lot of extreme weather. Stainless steel which won’t rust is even more expensive. Copper is a good choice if you are looking for a certain aesthetic. It is on the high end when it comes to price and doesn’t age as well as some of the other gutter materials.

When choosing gutters, besides the type, you need to consider shapes and styles. The two most common styles are the half-round and K-style. K-style gutters are smaller but typically drain the same amount of water. The most common gutter sizes are 5 and 6 inches. You can also go for seamless gutters as well.

Downspouts

Downspouts are the drainpipes in the gutter system that directs the rainwater away from the roof. Most people direct the water to water the lawn and flower beds. Downspouts are usually round or rectangular in shape. Downspout sizes are usually 2 x 3 inches and 3 x 4 inches in size or 3 or 4 inches in diameter.

Corner Joints & End Caps

The corner joints and end caps are essential parts of the gutter system. When not properly installed and sealed, there can be a lot of leaking. When you are installing these yourself you need to make sure you are using the right materials.

Hanging Brackets

Don’t skimp on the hanging brackets because they are just as important as the other parts of the system. When there are not enough of them or they are not strong enough you can have a lot of sagging in the gutters.

Other things you should take into consideration when choosing your gutter system, is the amount of rainfall you get in your area and whether you have a lot of trees around the building because that means a lot leaves that can clog the gutters up.

Splash Block

Most downspouts empty on to a splash block that directs water away from your foundation.

Mistakes to Avoid When Installing Yourself

  • Avoid Choosing the Wrong Size Gutter. Because your gutters need to be large enough to drain away all the rain from your home, finding the right size is crucial. If you go too small, the gutters will only get overloaded in heavy downfalls leading to a lot of water damage to your home. The wrong size can also lead to gutter damage and structural damage to your home. For the most accurate size, you need to take into consideration, the size of your roof and pitch as well as how much rainfall you tend to get in your area.
  • Avoid Hanging the Gutter Hangers Too Far Apart. The gutter hangers are the way you mount the gutter system to your home so they need to be spaced properly. If you leave too much space between the hangers, the rain gutters will actually sag causing the water to pool instead of flowing through. If this keeps happening and you have a lot of water pooling in different sections of the gutter system, the extra pressure is going to make the system separate from your home. The rule of thumb is to place the gutter hangers about every three feet or so, unless where you live there is a lot of snow and ice, then every 2 feet is better. Remember that while you think you might be saving yourself time and money to use fewer hangers, in the long run all the damage that will happen as a result will end up costing you a lot more.
  • Don’t Ignore the Pitch of the Rain Gutters . And you thought you would never need geometry again. The angle at which your rain gutters are hung is an important detail when it comes to a successful installation. Both too much of an angle and not enough of an angle can affect the speed at which the water flows through the system. In this case, moderation is best. Experts recommend that you allow for a ¼ inch slope towards the downspouts for every 10 feet of gutter. The most important thing to remember is that the gutters should never be level.
  • Where You Place the Gutter System Matters Too. You know the gutters go on the roof, but do you know exactly where? It is not enough to just hang them on the edge of the roof. Technically they need to be a few inches lower than your roofline to prevent water from damaging the fascia boards and siding.
  • Don’t Forget the Downspouts. How you place the downspouts and how many of them you install is also important. Not having enough downspouts will lead to standing water and overloading of the system during heavy rains. And when they are not placed properly you open yourself to erosion around the area, structural damage and even insect infestation, all of which can end up being pricey to fix.
  • Cheaper Isn’t Always Better. Going DIY is already saving you money on the cost of labor, so go ahead and invest in a good quality gutter system. If you opt for cheaper, poor quality materials to install your system, you will definitely be able to see the difference. Why risk the chance of having it break down and cause damage to your home just to save a few bucks?
  • Don’t Ignore Safety Protocols. Not everyone should be climbing on the roof to install gutters. If you have any health issues or are afraid of heights or not in good shape, you should not sign up for this demanding home project. If you decide to do the installation yourself, then make sure you have someone working with you who can spot you as you climb and make sure that the ladder stays steady and secure. Also don’t lean too far out while on the ladder either.

For more information about roof gutters, contact The SpoutOff today.

2 Comments

  1. Jordan Miner says:

    My wife and I have been wanting to get some new gutters for our home, as our old ones have started to crack and pull away from the roof. I think that seamless gutters would be a good option for us, so I’ve started doing some shopping around for them. I’m glad you mentioned that we should consider the style and shape of seamless gutters, so I’ll have to be sure to do that as well! Thanks!

  2. Joy Butler says:

    Our gutter has been damaged by the last storm. We’re still waiting for our loan so we can have it repaired. At the moment, we’ve got a wooden gutter. I am not sure if we’ll change it to a galvanized steel or just replace the damaged portion.

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