Gutters are an integral part of your home’s irrigation system. Properly maintained, they will help protect your roof and foundation from costly water damage. The following guide will help you understand the role gutters play in maintaining the structural integrity of your home, and how to keep them in good working order.

What are roof gutters?

Roof gutters are basically an irrigation system designed to transport water from your roof to the ground and away from your home. They are made up of two components: the gutter itself and the downspouts.

Typically constructed of aluminum, the gutter itself is a tube, open on the top, that runs along the edge of your roof. Gutters can either be sectional—constructed in shorter pieces that are connected—or seamless—constructed as one long piece where the only seaming occurs where the gutter is connected to the downspout. As seams are a  point of vulnerability, seamless gutters tend to be less prone to leakage.

When it rains, water falling onto the roof is collected in the gutter, which funnels it into a downspout. A downspout is a vertical piece of closed tubing that runs from the gutter down the side of your house, then trails along the ground a few feet so that water is carried away from the home.

What are gutter shields?

The purpose of gutters is to prevent water from backing up and accumulating, placing your roof at risk for leaks. If leaves, twigs, or other debris falls into the gutters and clogs them, they are not able to do their job effectively.

Gutter shields or gutter guards are put in place to keep debris out of the gutters. There are many different types of gutter shields. Often made from metal or vinyl, they form a cover that helps to filter out debris either by using meshing or slits that debris can’t pass through.

Gutters are a vital component of any home’s defense against water damage. In our next article, we’ll discuss how and how often to clean them.

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