What Homeowners Need to Know about Gutters

gutters_4253On rainy days like today, having a gutter system can save money for homeowners. The runoff from the roof can devastate tender landscape vegetation and cause damage to wood decks and even to brick or concrete paving.

For optimum performance, gutters should be inspected every spring. Leaves, fallen branches, or ice and snow can damage gutters, causing them to collapse or become plugged, making it impossible for them to direct the runoff properly.

If gutters are not regularly maintained, they can cause water to back up under shingles, to leak into attic spaces, or to seep behind exterior siding—all bad news. Moisture in these areas leads to rot, and moisture also attracts termites, especially in rainy climates like ours.

Now, is a good time to check gutters for damage or leaks. But, it’s raining outside! Yes! The best time to see if your gutters are working properly is while they’re doing what they’re supposed to do.

Check to see that the gutters are flush against the fascia boards. Also, look for leaks. Drips on the underside of gutters are a clue that they may have developed holes or cracks. Homeowners can make some repairs themselves, but they should attempt only the repairs they are capable of making and feel comfortable attempting.

If the gutters are old or have several problems, homeowners may want to consider replacing them altogether. Gutters come in different materials—vinyl, steel, aluminum, and copper. The prices range from $3 per lineal foot to over $15 per lineal foot. All materials have pros and cons, and the choice of material depends on the current exterior of the home, the length of time the owner plans to live in the home, and, obviously, the homeowner’s budget.

Vinyl Gutters

  • $3 to $5 per foot
  • Colorfast—color is built into the material
  • Won’t chip, dent, or corrode
  • Can become brittle with age and in extreme cold
  • Lightweight and easy enough for homeowners to install

Steel Gutters

  • $4 to $8 per foot
  • The sturdiest available material—supports more weight without damage
  • Requires the most maintenance
  • Will rust without proper drainage

Aluminum Gutters

  • $6 to $10 per foot
  • Will not rust
  • Available segmented or seamless—segmented is great for DIY, but leave seamless to the professionals
  • Easily dented or bent from powerful winds, falling debris, or heavy weight

Copper Gutters

  • Most attractive of all materials
  • Starts at $15 per foot
  • Long life span—over 75 years
  • Develops attractive verde patina over time
  • Requires professional installation
  • Attractive to thieves because of the value of the material, even as scrap

Gutters should receive a regular inspection because they can’t do their job if they are not maintained properly, which can lead to serious and expensive repairs. Because of the value and protection gutters afford the home, they should be replaced when they are no longer functioning or repairable. The good news is that homeowners have several options in several prices ranges when considering a new gutter system installation.

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