Why have Guttering?
Gutters direct the roof runoff away from the house foundations, and prevent it splashing onto walls as it falls to the ground. Thus 2 causes of damp are removed.
A very few houses don't need gutters. Examples are pole suspended buildings, where ground splash will occur below the level of the building.
Neglecting gutter cleaning may result in damp patches on upstairs walls and staining on walls.
Single storey house gutters may be cleaned with a garden trowel.
2 storey house gutters may be cleaned with a J shaped copper pipe pole with a flattened top end to give a water spray.
3 storey house gutters may be cleaned with ?
On old houses with open drains and hoppers, the drain grates and hoppers need clearing.
Plastic guttering has the shortest life expectancy of all gutter types due to eventual degradation of the plastics used (although modern plastics may be better than those in use a few decades ago). Its low price and ease of installation has made it very popular.
The type of plastic of which this guttering is made becomes more brittle at low temperatures, and in locations prone to heavy snowfall damage may occur due to loading if the gutter sections are not adequately supported.
Plastic gutter expands in the sun (sometimes making creaking noises). Connecting fittings are designed to allow for such movement, and it is important when fitting guttering to allow for this movement in cutting lengths: the colder the weather when fitting the guttering the shorter it should be cut to allow for expansion when hot (and vice versa). If cut too long expansion will cause strain on the fixing screws of fittings and/or bowing of gutter sections. If cut too short lengths may pull away from their sealing strips at the fittings causing leaks.
Iron gutter has life expectancy of over a century, and is the most common originally fitted gutter on Victorian houses. Lots of iron gutter from the 1800s is still in service.
Do not attempt to take down pieces of iron gutter single handed. They are deceptively heavy, and attempting this is dangerous.
Iron downpipes tend to rust through before the gutters, since they are less ventilated. Iron downpipes have a habit of rusting through on the back first, while the sides and front look healthy. An inspection of the guttering system should include a check for this if the house is a century or more old. This can be very difficult to see, even when looking deliberately. A quick feel with a cloth reinforced rubber glove does the job.
Iron is the one type of gutter heavy enough to kill people, and guttering found hanging at an unhealthy angle should not be neglected.
Iron guttering is still in production, and is not as expensive as often assumed. If you're keen to have a gutter that will never need attention in your own lifetime, iron is the prime candidate.
Iron gutter can not be fitted single handed. Trying to fit iron gutter using ladders is ill advised, the things are just too heavy. Scaffolding and a minimum of 2 people are required.
Aluminium gutter has become more popular on prestigious new builds in recent years.
Aluminium guttering is custom made to suit the building. This gives it a very neat appearance, with the minimum of joints.
Aluminium is more robust and longer lasting than plastic. Being custom made it is also a lot more expensive.
Aluminium gutter has not been around long enough for time to tell, but it seems likely that it will not last as well as iron guttering, which is still in production.
Wood guttering has a life expectancy of around 70 years if suitable woods are used.
Correct choice of wood species is necessary. Non-durable timber species are not suitable for guttering, and have very short life if used.
Wood gutter is traditionally unpainted. Painting increases drying times after rain, and can cause rot.
There are 3 common forms of wood gutter.
- \/ shaped gutter, formed by nailing 2 planks of wood
- \_/ shaped gutter formed by nailing 3 planks of wood
- Moulded gutter profiles formed from a single piece of profiled wood. These may be half round or other shapes. When painted these are easily mistaken for iron gutters.
Wood gutter is considerably more robust and durable than plastic. Wood gutter is not particularly expensive, and lasts well. Some believe it deserves wider use, and that its decline in popularity owes more to popular misconception than anything else.
When replacing wood gutter on old buildings, it is generally found that fitting plastic causes a sizeable change in appearance & character, and replacement with wood is normally to be recommended.
Annual cleaning of wood gutters makes more difference to life expectancy than with other types.
- Something about gutter joints
- Painting info
- Perhaps some idea of costs.
- Pics of detailing of the gutter types
- Steel gutter section
- Wood species