The guttering on your home is probably something you never think about… that is until something goes wrong with it. But without due care and attention (as well as maintenance) the guttering around your property is susceptible to problems that could lead to serious issues down the line.
In this article, we are going to explain the purpose of your guttering, the sort of problems it can experience, and how to fix them when they arise. Let’s get started.
What is the purpose of guttering?
A gutter is a narrow trough or channel that runs around the perimeter of the roof on a property. The purpose of the gutter is to collect rainwater and funnel it away into drains and sewers.
Guttering is important because it takes excess water away from the foundations of a building as well as protecting exterior brickwork and preventing water from entering your home.
Gutters consist of many parts that play a different role in water collection and diversion. These include:
- The main gutter section – This is the horizontal trough or channel that attaches to the fascia on the underside of your roof and channels water into your drains.
- Downspout – The downspout is a sealed pipe that runs down from the main gutter trough to the base of the property where it deposits water into the drains. It is often cylindrical or rectangular in shape.
- Hangers – Hangers support guttering by fixing it to the wall. They come in many forms from standard plastic hangers to heavy-duty hangers to K style hangers, plus many more.
- Gutter Guards – These are often used to cover the end of the downspout where it expels rainwater into drains and will screen out debris, like leaves, twigs, etc., that would otherwise clog or block the gutter or drain.
- Downspout extension – Some guttering systems employ an extension pipe that attaches to the end of the downspout and funnels water elsewhere. This allows you to control where water is emptied.
Guttersuplies.co.uk offer a handy guide on all the different parts of a gutter system here.
So, what are the different types of gutters: Material?
Guttering comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials and the type you use will depend on several factors. Let’s start by discussing the different materials and how this affects their use.
Steel guttering is incredibly sturdy and strong. It can also be quite low-maintenance so long as it is coated with rust-preventing compounds like zinc alloy. Steel guttering systems aren’t cheap, however, and the entire system will need to be replaced at some point once rust takes hold. Best used in areas that experience bad weather or where excessive wear and tear is expected.
Aluminium guttering is a good alternative to steel as it is almost as strong and durable but is much lighter. Again, aluminium guttering can be expensive and will need replacing more often than plastic due to rust. Best used when you need a stronger guttering system due to weather or excessive wear and tear.
Most homes built after the 1970s will have a plastic or uPVC guttering system. Plastic gutters are incredibly cheap and while they are less sturdy than metal-based ones, they won’t rust and if looked after will last a long time before requiring replacement. Best suited for homes that want a simple and easy to maintain guttering system but don’t need the extra strength that metal provides.
Cast iron guttering is incredibly durable and can last for over 100 years if correctly installed and maintained. But cast iron isn’t cheap and the extreme weight can be an issue for most properties. Best suited to homeowners looking for a bit of visual style and have the funds to splash out (and the right fixings to hold the weight).
Copper guttering, like other metal gutter types, is a great looking and hard-wearing option for many systems. Copper is incredibly durable but will, over time, discolour and eventually rust. Again, copper isn’t cheap but provides a strong and moss resistant option for homeowners.
So, what are the different types of gutters: Shape?
Guttering also comes in a variety of different shapes suitable for different purposes or different styles. Let’s have a look at a few in detail:
Half-round guttering is the most popular guttering style in use. As the name suggests, half-round gutters consist of a half-cylinder where the open side is placed upwards to collect water. Half-round guttering is suitable for anyone looking for a simple and cheap solution.
Ogee gutters offer a more contemporary profile and employ a number of curves in its design. The name Ogee derives from the term “old gothic” which comes from the fact it was most popular in the Victorian era. As such the Ogee shape is best suited to period buildings
Deep gutters are simply designed to hold more water and best suited to areas with higher levels of rainfall or water runoff. They are generally half-round(ish) in shape but much deeper in profile.
Box gutters are square in shape when looking along the trough. Due to their contemporary shape, they are best suited to modern buildings or those looking for an angular profile. They also tend to hold more water than circular gutters so can be used in areas of high rainfall.
What sort of problems can you get with gutters?
Gutters, like most parts of your house, can develop problems over time. Here are a few issues to be wary of:
Land and soil erosion.
Okay, this isn’t technically a problem that your gutters will develop but it is a problem your house may have if your gutters aren’t working properly. Gutters funnel water away from your home. Without them, rainwater will run down your property and into your foundations. Over time this can erode the soil from outside and underneath your property and the structural integrity of your home could be damaged.
Gutters can become blocked
Guttering can easily become blocked over time as things like leaves, birds nests, twigs, and branches fall into them. When gutters are blocked, rainwater will find another way to the ground. This is often down the side of your property which can lead to mortar damage, water leakage, and the aforementioned soil erosion around and underneath the property.
Gutters can crack, sperate, or split
Gutters and the joints between them are prone to cracking, splitting, or separating over time. This can allow rainwater to seep through. This can then lead to mortar damage, water leakage into the property, or flooded foundations.
Guttering can detach from fascias
Guttering is generally held in place by hangers that attach to your property. The gutter trough will be attached to the fascia and the downspout directly to the outer wall. These can crack or split over time allowing guttering to ‘peel’ away from the building. If this happens rainwater will run down the outside of the property leading to any of the problems we’ve listed above.
How do you fix gutter problems?
How you fix your gutter problem will depend on the nature of the issue. Blockages can usually be cleared by hand, so long as you have a long enough ladder to access the blocked area in the first place (please don’t borrow a ladder and climb up two stories if you don’t know what you’re doing).
Cracks, splits, or gutters that have come away from the building may require a guttering expert to replace or fix the issue.
How do I find a guttering specialist in Oxford?
Finding a guttering specialist in Oxford is never easy but there are a few things you can do to make your search easier:
- Don’t be afraid to use Google – We understand the reluctance to search for tradesmen on the Internet. How do you really know if they are any good after all? But Google can be a useful tool if used correctly. Just remember to do a bit of background research before hiring anybody and check for reviews on websites like com and Ratedpeople.com.
- Use Bark – Bark is a service marketplace that allows customers to find good quality tradespeople in their area. The link here takes you to the “find a gutter specialist” tool.
- Ask around – The odds are one of your friends, neighbours, or family members have had gutter problems in the past. Ask them who they hired and if they would recommend them. They may give a glowing review and a phone number or regale you with a horror story of why you should avoid them. Either way, you’ll have gained vital information in your search and can make a more informed choice.
Like all household problems, gutter issues can seemingly happen overnight. But with a little help from this guide, hopefully you’ll be well-armed to deal with problems head-on and have all the tools you need to find a reputable guttering specialist in Oxford.