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Protect Your Gutter from Clutter

By Megan S. Ward

Gutters are an important feature of a roof. They are designed in the form of a narrow channel through which rainwater flows, once collected from the roof. The system is designed to divert and catch any water, so that none leaks into your house. Many homeowners make the mistake of thinking that the roof itself is causing a water leakage, when it may very well be your rain gutter. Over time, this trough can become cluttered with leaves, debris and even small pieces of dirt. Without a proper protection system for your gutter, the water builds up and eventually overflows, thus eliminating the original purpose of the rain gutter. I will go over what types of gutters there are, how a clogged gutter can be harmful to your home and how you can protect your gutter from clutter (that rhymes, I know.)

There are many types of gutters; each with their own unique shape to fit the contour of your house. The materials used to build the gutter may even vary a bit themselves. A gutter is usually composed of metal which rusts over time, but there are gutters that are made from copper, steel, stone, cast iron, lead, zinc and so much more. It’s important to ensure that your gutters are water-proof, before having them installed. It is through the technological advance in building that cold forming became an actual technique in gutter creation. There are three ways that gutters are often installed by—integrally, discreetly and as a crowning. When a gutter is installed integrally, this means that the gutter is built around the lower edge of the roof. While discretely built gutters are designed to not protrude outwards, but rather be suspended and projected well beyond the edge and slope of the roof. A wall integral structure is where the rain gutter is installed beneath the edge of the roof, as a crowning wall element. After deciding the best technique, a box gutter is usually installed as the form of gutter itself. A box gutter is deeper than most gutters and is more appealing in terms of building design. This is due to the fact that it is often built within the roof’s structure. You can often find these types of gutters on commercial buildings, as well as residential buildings. To protect the box gutter from rusting, usually the builders line the gutters with roofing felt or asphalt. Since these types of gutters are built with the contour of the house, it is often easier to maintain these types of gutters, but if anything were to get stuck, it then becomes a big project.

A clogged gutter can be very harmful to your house over time as the gutter was built to help reduce the effects of erosion, water exposure and leaks. If your gutter is full of dirt, silt and debris, the water will then overflow and leak into the crawlspaces of your house and eventually, your basement. Not only can a clogged gutter cause leaks, but it can also lead to mold growth and weeds as well. Aside from having the possibility of more mold spores on the roof lining, a clogged gutter also poses the threat of stagnant water due to the water backing up. This will create an environment where mosquitoes can easily breed and lay eggs. Cold forming technology may allow for gutters to run continuously, but even though the amount of jointing is reduced, your gutter is still at risk for being clogged. If you don’t properly maintain your rain gutters, they will overflow and eventually soak the foundation of your house. Damage to the structure of the roof and bigger ice dams during bad weather are more common with back up gutters. It’s not uncommon for grass to grow in a clogged gutter as well.

If you take to the time to properly protect your gutter, you can avoid water damage to your house and optimize the efficiency of your home. There are many ways to protect your gutter from becoming clogged or full of debris. One of the most common ways is to have a mesh or metal bars installed on the top of your gutters. With a proper strainer added, less maintenance is required. If you are looking for other options as well, micro mesh screens, solid hoods and louvers are offered as well. You may have to get a certain one to cover all the space depending on the placement of your gutter. Hiring a professional is highly recommended, but not required. The pricing should be inexpensive and the installments can be made within a day. Ensure that water flow is still prevalent, but that the protection method keeps debris out as well. Even though you may have had a proper installment, it can’t hurt to have an inspection and cleaning every 2-4 years to confirm that you have taken the right precautions in protecting your gutter.