As a homeowner, you know that you must make time to clean your gutters once or twice a year, but what do you really know about the different parts of a gutter? You probably haven’t thought twice about what parts make up a gutter system, but it’s an important thing to learn if you want your gutters to be efficient and functional all year round.
Having a reliable gutter system is not just essential for your roof, but it offers protection from seeping moisture for the rest of your home. Homeowners know that even with a little bit of lingering moisture, the home could have big problems down the road.
So, when you’re out doing your annual gutter cleaning routine, check the different parts of the system to make sure moisture doesn’t have a chance to affect your home and your roof.
Let’s start with the basics: the gutter itself. This part of your system is called “the gutter section,” and you’re familiar with it because this is the area you spend most of your time cleaning out leaves and debris.
These sections run anywhere from five to ten feet at a time and they attach to your home. Fallings from trees like sticks, acorns, leaves, and sprigs can collect in the gutter sections, requiring them to be manually cleaned out after each debris-heavy season. There are also gutters that are classified as “seamless gutters,” which allow for the entire gutter to run the length of your home.
The purpose of the gutter itself is to catch the runoff of water from rainfalls or melting snow and guide it out and away from the house. Not only does this help protect your roof, but it forces the water away from the foundation of your home.
Basements are known to be water-prone and have mold or mildew problems, and the reason causing these common issues could be a failing or complete lack of working gutters.
Gutter sections can be made out of many different materials. There are aluminum gutters, copper, steel, and vinyl. There are pros and cons for each material, but perhaps the most popular amongst these different styles is vinyl.
Vinyl is lightweight and cost-effective, allowing any do-it-yourself to replace parts with ease and at a low price. The downside of vinyl gutters, however, is that they are more prone to cracking and damage.
This hardworking part of your gutter system runs along the side of the home and you may be guilty of tripping over it or hitting it with the lawnmower. The downspout looks like a flattened pipe with an upturn at the very end.
Its main function is to pass the water from the gutter sections down the side of the house and shoot the runoff water out and away from the foundation.
Without a good working downspout, the water from the gutter sections would simply pool and collect around the house, which can lead to awful moisture-related damages and expensive repairs.
An essential piece of your gutter system is called an end cap. Since the job of the entire system is to direct water away from the house, the end caps are put on certain places of the gutter sections to help direct water, forcing the water to flow in one direction down the downspouts.
End caps are also helpful in keeping debris from falling out of the gutters, keeping them on the inside of the sections for better control and easier cleaning. The end caps are usually metal, are flat, and designed to blend in nicely with the rest of the gutter sections.
End caps are made to attach directly into the gutter sections and can be secured with screws into the eave.
Hangers are fasteners that tie the gutter sections to your home. With the help of a few screws, hangers clip and secure the gutter sections in place. Some hangers are visible and others are considered hidden.
Hidden hangers are inside of the opening of a gutter section and cannot be seen from any direction. The hidden hangers are comprised of an angled piece of metal with a hole for the screw to enter to into the eave.
The hanger’s other end is inside the front edge of the gutter section to offer support and is sometimes secured to the gutter section with a screw.
A miter is a cornering gutter section and are often available prefabricated. Sometimes, these gutter sections are referred to as box miters and are attached to either side of the sections.
There are other types of miters, too, called bay miters or strip miters, and these are narrow pieces of metal that act as securing fasteners to hold two gutter sections together at a corner.
A downspout would not be able to do its job without the aid of the elbow. An elbow appears just as you would expect it to, bent at an angle to allow the water flow to be guided in an optimal direction away from the foundation.
The elbow snaps in place at the end of the downspout, closest to the ground, and will look blended into the downspout with its similar metal pipe construction.
A pipe cleat is a bent cleat of metal that secures the downspout against the side of the home. The pipe cleat looks like a clip and you’re able to see the pipe cleat around the outer circumference of the downspout. The pipe cleat is tied directly into the home and goes through the siding or brick.
The job of the splash block is to disperse water away from the house and is typically plane shaped. The splash block sits on the ground beneath the downspout.
Ferrules are small pieces of metal that offer an alternative method of fastening the section of a gutter to the home. It’s cylindrical in shape and has a hole near the front of its edge that allows for a screw to pass through which secures it into place.
Almost every home has a gutter system or some sort of alternative that strives to redirect water away from its foundation, and this is why it is important to learn and understand the different pieces that make up a gutter system.
Your gutter system is essential to the protection of your house because, with moisture, there’s a potential of water damage, structural weakening, the growth of mold and mildew, and other issues that are expensive and time consuming to repair.
Eventually, regardless of which material your gutter system is composed of, you’ll have to replace certain parts. Due in part by the elements the gutter system are exposed to and the simple fact of wear and tear, the pieces will have to be replaced.
Fortunately, replacing the different parts is an easy task and there are plenty of tutorials to instruct you on how to accomplish this task. When you know what parts to look for during your yearly inspection of the gutters, you can make the task of replacing them quicker and easier on yourself.
Now that you’ve learned all the parts that go into a gutter construction, it’s time for you to look at your gutter and see if your gutter is up to standards. Let’s review, does your current gutter have leaks and holes? Look at the condition of your gutter and see if it’s bent or floppy.
These problems could happen if you don’t keep up with the maintenance and it could be extremely difficult and expensive to fix it. At Feldco Chicago, we have extremely durable gutters and our installers are factory trained to install the gutters properly so the water passes down the side of the house and shoot the runoff water away from the foundation. Speak to a product specialist and get a free quote today.