Living in the Greater Vancouver Area it’s important we have long-lasting gutters to help us through the many, many rainy months we see year-after-year. Gutters can also be a huge eye sore if they aren’t properly maintained and taken care of. So while regularly cleaning your gutters is important, it’s also equally important to keep an eye on them to see if they need to be replaced.
Because by nature gutters are exposed to the elements they will not last forever and can become damaged, cracked and even warped and saggy. None of these factors are good when it comes to having gutters. They need to be 100% functional in order to keep water away from your home’s structure.
Gutters are most often made of either steel or aluminum. Sometimes plastic and sometimes copper, however not very often. Both steel and aluminum are strong and solid materials, but they have their weaknesses as well. The former has a low rate of expansion and contraction, whereas the latter has a high rate. This means, depending on how hot or cold it is, the materials will get bigger or get smaller.
This is all taken into account when you purchase gutters or have them professionally installed. However, over the course of years (we’re talking about decades), the material will start to lose its integrity and cause warping and sagging.
Warped gutters means they move away from the building’s structure, and this will lead to water leaks. Aluminum is a softer metal and more likely to warp. It’s also important to ensure that gutters are properly installed in the first place to try and delay or prevent this from happening at all.
All gutters are coated before you purchase them; the steel is galvanized and aluminum is painted. Over time, and exposure to rain, UV rays, animals and other factors, these protective coats will be worn down and start to crack or break off. Furthermore, once this protective layer starts to break off, just like chipping paint, debris can get stuck on these chips and collect. Over time this can start to eat away at the underlying metal of the gutters and break them down even further.
Aluminum gutters also have an additional flaw to them; they are connected with caulking and screws. This is an extra element of metal that can warp with every seasonal change. The caulking can lose its integrity and stops adjusting to the expanding and contracting metal around it. Meanwhile, the screws can loosen and warp making it easy for more debris to collect in the gutters.
Sagging gutters are a whole different story. This happens when the mechanism holding the gutters to the building or structure break for some reason. These brackets or brace system keeps the gutters snug against your home. This is good for two reasons; first because it makes the gutters less noticeable and second it ensures the system captures all the water from the home and moves it away.
If the brackets fail to work the gutters themselves will start to sag and when this happens the water doesn’t flow out as efficiently as it should. This leads to water damage to your home’s structure, roof, and much more.
This just further shows that every part of your gutter, from the seams to the brackets to the material chosen itself all play a critical role in ensuring rain water is properly redirected away from your home.