When working properly, gutters can easily be forgotten as you think about your home’s exterior. They’re often an afterthought because they blend into the siding and don’t make themselves known until there’s a problem. However, forgetting about your gutters and neglecting to maintain them can be just the thing that leads to one of these problems.
Keeping your gutters clean is especially important for people who live in areas surrounded by trees. Alure Home Improvement’s exterior design expert Bob Sansivero explained that when he moved into his heavily wooded home, the first thing he was told was that he needed to keep his gutters clean or he’d have serious water damage. As someone who deals with gutters nearly every day, Sansivero has tried to echo this advice back to other homeowners.
“The biggest problem with gutters is when they clog up and you get water in that can’t flow properly to the leaders,” Sansivero said in an interview. “It goes behind the gutters and can actually enter the house. A lot of people have a problem with water getting in their house when they just don’t clean their gutters.”
Calling gutter cleaning “paramount,” Sansivero explained that some of the most popular and best-selling gutter features are guards and screens that work to protect the gutter from filling with falling leaves.
Although regular maintenance and cleaning of your gutter can go a long way to prevent overflowing and water damage, sometimes structural damage simply can’t be avoided. In the winter, heavy ice can fill and form in a home’s gutter, putting too much pressure on the structure, causing a collapse and leaving the gutter hanging from the roof.
“This winter we just had was ridiculous. I grew up on Long Island – born and raised – and I’ve never seen a winter like that,” Sansivero said. “I don’t care what you have on your house. A winter like that is going to be tough.”
Sansivero explained that there isn’t exactly a reliable anti-ice technology to protect all gutters from ice damage yet, although some people use heated gutter caps.
When ice causes a gutter to fall, a new gutter system needs to be installed. Sansivero said that about 90 percent of homeowners opt for aluminum gutters. They’re inexpensive, light and they don’t rust. However, there are other options for custom looks, such as copper.
Regardless of the material, one of the most important things about new gutters is that they’re easier to repair and do less damage to the home than old-style gutters, which used to be installed with spikes that could fall out of soft wood and not be able to be repaired, Sansivero explained.
“The new gutters don’t install that way. Instead of a spike, they have a bracket that sits inside the gutter,” he said. “The nice thing about these new gutters is that if the wood softens up, instead of that spike there’s a lag bolt that screws in. You can back it out, move that bracket over a few inches, catch a new piece of wood and screw it back in again. So the newer gutters are actually reusable.”
The new gutters also often come with great warranties. But, with regular cleaning, most people shouldn’t need to use the warranty. Sansivero explained that a well-installed gutter system, which is included with many roofing annd siding jobs, can work well for 20 years.
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