Roof gutters are an elegantly simple solution to what can be a serious problem. Gutters direct the water that collects on a roof during a rain or snow storm away from the house. Without them, the 900-plus gallons of water that is deposited on a 1,500 square foot roof after a one-inch downpour would flow over the exterior walls of the house, soaking the fascia and soffits near the roof. The water that makes it to the ground will not only damage foundation plantings, it will also soak into the ground around the house's foundation and footings, leading to possible long-term damage.
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Types of Gutters
Gutters either come in sections that are attached to one another with screws, rivets or other connectors on the job site, or they are seamless, in which an entire run of gutter consists of one continuous piece of material. Because they made from one piece of material, they don't leak as much as sectional gutters. And there are less obstructions to slow the flow of water and snag leaves and other debris that can lead to clogs. While installing gutters that come in sections can be a DIY project, installing seamless gutters requires a qualified contractor.
Seamless gutters are custom-like products that are fabricated to meet the specific dimensions and needs of the house. Contractors show up at the job site with a truck that contains a gutter-forming machine. Inside the truck, rolls of material, usually aluminum, are shaped into gutters. The contractor will roll out a section, punch out the holes for the downspouts and attach end caps for the sections, using a heavy duty sealant.
Because they are manufactured on site, the gutter sections should fit the house perfectly. The contractor will make sure that the gutters slope toward the downspouts to keep the water flowing in the right direction.
Cost of Seamless Gutters
Aluminum is the most popular type of seamless gutter material because of its relatively low cost ($5 to $9 per linear foot for an average house) availability, durability and workability. It is a strong material that can withstand the rigors of most climates. It is also available in a variety of colors. But seamless gutters are also available in other materials: vinyl ($3 to $6 per near foot); steel ($6 to $11) and copper ($17 to $27).
Just as some materials cost more than others, working on some houses will cost more than others. Items that could affect the cost of a new gutter installation include:
- Complicated roof lines
- Multiple levels
- House size
- Availability of materials
- Local labor costs
Seamless gutters are more expensive than gutters installed in sections, but, with the proper maintenance, they can provide years of protection for your home.
Fran Donegan is a writer and editor who specializes in covering remodeling, construction and other home-related topics. In addition to his articles and blogs appearing in numerous print and digital media outlets, he is the former executive editor of the consumer magazine Today's Homeowner and the managing editor of Creative Homeowner Press, a book publisher. Fran is the author of two books: Paint Your Home (Reader's Digest) and Pools and Spas (Creative Homeowner Press).