What Are Gutter Systems Made Of?

A 19th-century nursery rhyme tells us all we need to know about the composition of young humans. While little girls are made of “sugar and spice and everything nice,” little boys are made of “frogs and snails and puppy dog’s tails.”

Instead of using this information for a jumping-off point for a complex “mars vs. venus” discussion, let’s instead return to the core competency of this blog; namely, the makeup of typical home gutter systems. It usually consists of four components … although there is a fifth one which may be the most important one of all.

1. Guttering

Obviously, the guttering is the “foundation” of the gutter system on a home. It makes up the actual channels which will catch the runoff water from the roof and guide it in a desired direction. Most guttering is known as “K-style,” where one side is vertically flat and the other is bent in such a fashion as to resemble interior crown molding, though half-round gutters are not uncommon. Guttering is usually made of aluminum, though there are copper, galvanized steel, vinyl, and even wood gutter products on the market as well.

2. Fasteners

As the name implies, these fasteners (also known as gutter hangers) hold the gutters to the fascia boards on a home’s roofline. These days, fasteners consist of a bent piece of metal that is specially-designed to fit K-style gutters. One end has two right angles in order to fit under the front lip of the gutter, while the other end features a clip that fits over the flat back edge. The clip end contains a hole through which a long screw is drilled/screwed into the fascia to hold the gutter in place.

3. Elbows

This piece is often forgotten when describing a typical gutter system. On flat-walled buildings, elbows aren’t necessary because the gutter can attach directly to a downspout; but since the roof hangs over most homes, a piece is needed to connect the roofline-fastened guttering to the wall-fastened downspout. The elbow is simply an enclosed, bent piece of pipe whose ends are constructed to easily affix to either the downspout or the gutter with screws or rivets.

4. Downspouts

The final phase of a guttering system provides a vertical channel through which runoff water flows from the suspended guttering down to ground level and away from the home. The enclosed pipe is made from the same material as the guttering. One end attaches to the elbow opening near the gutters, while the other end is bent at an obtuse angle to direct water outward so that it doesn’t seep into basements, foundations, or home-adjacent landscaping.

Don’t Forget the Gutter Guard

But arguably the most essential element of the guttering system is the part which facilitates the flow of the runoff water: the gutter guard. Unguarded gutters can fill with leaves, pine needles, or other debris and form clogs, thus preventing the water from reaching the downspout. This usually results in spillover onto the ground near the home. Gutter guards prevent this debris from getting into the gutters, while allowing water to flow unimpeded.

The most effective gutter guard on the market today is Gutter Helmet. For more information on adding this critical component to your gutter system, contact the professionals at Harry Helmet today.

Photo credits: nedstevens.com (#1), sauk_city (#2-#4)

Written by Chris Martin

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I have had Gutter Helmets for 20 years. In all that time I've never had a problem until recently a bird's nest found its way into one of my gutters. The installer who came to replace the product was the same installer from 20 years earlier. Now that's impressive. Everyone at Gutter Helmet inclusive of the office staff were professional and a pleasure to work with.
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We needed our roof repaired due to wind damage. After several quotes, Gutter Helmet was the only company that went into our attic to look and see if more damage had occurred. If it wasn't for them taking the extra time to look at everything, we would have had rotting wood under our new roof. They were very professional and gave a fair quote.
We just had Gutter Helmet installed on our gutters and couldn't be happier. They provided us with useful information about Gutter Helmet and cleaned up everything, leaving no mess behind. We definitely recommend Gutter Helmet to anyone considering this product.

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