As a homeowner, you spend plenty of time thinking about how to maintain your home so it retains its value and stays a comfortable place for you and your family to live. One of the easiest ways to keep your home in good shape is preventing water damage; leaks and flooding can damage your roof, foundation, and wood framing.
Gutters are a cost-effective way to prevent water from accumulating near these areas, but many newer homes are built without them. If you’re thinking about installing gutters, read on to learn about three key considerations for getting the most out of them.
Why Do You Need Gutters?
If you had a good inspector during your home buying process, you probably learned about all kinds of signs that a house isn’t in great shape, like cracks in concrete foundations, sidewalks and driveways, or brickwork; doors and windows that stick or don’t close; and the remnants of water stains on siding, bricks, and stone, or—worst of all—interiors. All of these issues are caused by water damage. Because it can be hard to detect before it’s too late, and because it can cause major health and structural issues, water damage is one of the most pernicious problems that can befall a house.
Gutters are valuable because they can route rainwater away from your house and encourage proper drainage. A professionally installed and well-maintained gutter system has the capacity to contain and direct the water flow caused by even heavy rainfall and storm surges, protecting your home from the perils of water damage.
What Type of Gutters Should You Get?
There are several common materials for gutters, including copper, steel, vinyl, and aluminum. Aluminum is generally the most popular, as it strikes a good balance between cost and durability, but, many DIY-ers are attracted to the easy assembly of vinyl gutters. That said, installing gutters isn’t as easy as it might look! Not only can improper installation of gutter system cause water to leak into your house via the wooden soffit and fascia boards on your roof, but incorrectly assembled gutters, whether joined or welded, may not hold up to severe weather.
A pro contractor will ensure that your gutter system is sturdy enough to last through storms, winds, and temperature shifts, and will guarantee its performance over time. You won’t have that assurance with a DIY job, and widespread water damage can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Are Gutters High Maintenance?
Even though many cities and towns have shifted back to requiring gutters for new construction, you might cringe at the thought of adding gutter maintenance to your to-do list. Doing it yourself requires you to balance on top of a ladder for hours, but hiring help can cost hundreds of dollars annually. It’s true that leaves, branches, and other debris can get caught in gutters, so you may be tempted to install a gutter cover or filter.
Before you do so, read the fine print on your roof’s warranty—carefully! Many typical filters and covers can increase the probability of water damage if they aren’t cleaned and maintained themselves, because of the way they can create a dense “shelf” of wet plant material on top of the gutter. You won’t solve the cleaning problem with covers like these, and you may void the warranty on your roof.
For homeowners living in parts of the country with frequent hail, storms, or high winds, a damaged roof that’s out of warranty and not covered by insurance can be a $20,000 problem. More modern gutter guards, like the K-Guard Leaf-Free Gutter System, use newer materials and better designs to prevent leaf buildup and water damage, and they’re safer for your roof.
Gutters can be a major asset for your home maintenance needs, but only if they’re installed and maintained properly. Luckily, it’s easier than ever to accomplish both.