An essential part of any property, roof gutters are a piece of roof furniture that is frequently overlooked. Not any more! Here we take an in-depth look at what a roof gutter is and why they’re a vital part of your property’s exterior. We also consider the various types of gutter on the market, as well as how best to keep your guttering working well and what to do when problems occur.
What is a roof gutter?
Simply put, a roof gutter is part of your wastewater discharge system. When it rains, water droplets fall on the roof. To prevent the water flooding the roof, or rolling down a pitched roof in an uncontrolled manner, roofs are fitted with a water discharge system. The gutter is the first part of this system.
It consists of long, open pipe lengths that are attached around the base of the roof, just beyond the edge of the roof (beyond the eaves). As the rain trickles down the roof, it falls into the gutter. At intervals, gutters are connected to downpipes – vertical pipes that carry the rainwater onwards to the storm drain.
What are the functions of a roof gutter
As already indicated, the main function of a roof gutter is to catch rainwater before it drips off the end of the roof (the eaves). If a roof doesn’t have a gutter, rainwater will drip haphazardly onto the ground around the property. Not only does this mean anyone entering or leaving the premises runs the risk of being drenched in the runoff, but it also means the ground around your property will quickly become saturated with rainwater.
Uncontrolled rainwater may also pool on low-pitched roofs, putting unwanted strain on the roof and increasing the risk of leaks.
Gutters don’t just catch rainwater, they also catch leaves, branches, detritus dropped by birds and similar waste. Without a gutter, this waste will slide down the roof slope and fall (possibly with some force) onto the ground surrounding your home. This is potentially dangerous (nobody wants to be hit by a falling branch). It also creates unsightly waste around the property.
In short, gutters play a key role in protecting the roof, walls and foundations of your property from water damage.
Different types of roof gutter
Historically, gutters were made from anything from lead to iron or asbestos cement. Contemporary gutter systems are usually made from heavy-duty plastic (UPVC) or metal (steel or aluminium are both popular choices). Occasionally, copper is used for guttering, primarily due to the aesthetic value of the patina that develops on it over time.
Gutters may have a traditional semi-circular shape or have a squarer profile, with one sloped side surface (K-style guttering). Gutters have the upper edge open, to collect the rainwater.
Modern gutters are typically installed as part of a system. This means that the gutters and downpipes are compatible with one another. The end result is a coordinated, watertight installation that offers excellent performance.
If you’re considering a fresh roof gutter installation, a professional plumber from Endpoint Plumbing can provide expert advice and recommendations on the type of guttering that’s going to best suit your property.
How to maintain your roof gutter
Provided waste materials and detritus are regularly removed from roof gutters, they will usually last for decades without additional maintenance being required.
We recommend that roof gutters are inspected twice a year – once before the cooler, rainier months, to ensure there aren’t any blockages, and once when the drier weather is on the way, to check the guttering hasn’t sustained any damage. Unless you have the right ladders and know how to use them, we recommend using a plumber to complete the inspection. Not only can they complete the process safely, but they also know what to look for.
If there is any evidence of a build-up of detritus or any sign of gutter weakness or instability, a professional should be able to clear out the gutter and make any necessary repairs quickly and easily. Gutter problems should be resolved promptly, as anything which impedes the flow of wastewater into the stormwater drainage system increases the risk of water dripping onto your walls, pooling on the roof or sinking down through the surrounding soil into your foundations.
Common problems with a roof gutter
Aside from leaves and branches, birds may also drop detritus into gutters. Over time, a blockage can build up.
Gutters pulling away from their fixings.
This may be due to poor installation, weak fixings or an increased load due to blockages and a consequent build-up of rainwater.
Gutter wear or fracturing
Over time, most guttering starts to degenerate. This may lead to a section giving way, or two sections no longer fitting snugly together.
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All these problems can be easily fixed by the experienced, professional plumbers at Endpoint Plumbing
Get in touch for assistance with your roof gutter repairs, installation and maintenance.