Having Problems with Your Gutters?
We’re talking about what is commonly known as roof gutters or rain gutters. They’re the channels or ducts made to run along the roof to collect rainwater and divert it safely away from the building. The presence of gutters prevents water from pooling up at places where it can do mischief: around the building, in the walkways, on the streets. Gutters are especially important in the Minnesotan climate, as the water, snow and ice can clog your gutters causing water damage to the outside and inside of your home.
Types of Gutters
There is a large variety of gutters available varying in material, shape, installation procedure, color, and of course, cost.
- Gutter Material – You have a choice of vinyl (plastic) gutters aluminum, copper, steel, galvalume (iron coated with aluminum), and zinc. Each material has merits and will suit a situation. Aluminum is generally preferred, but specialist advice may come in handy.
- Gutter Styles (cross-sectional shapes) – The Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors National Association (SMACNA) alphabetically lists many styles for the gutter. The K-style is generally preferred. Some others are, half-round, fascia, European Style, etc.
- Gutter Construction – Sectional or Seamless- For DIY, pre-cut, preformed sections of gutters are available in various styles but the joints might have leaks. Seamless gutters on the other hand are made onsite according to requirement, have no joints and will not leak.
- Sizes and Colors – Various sizes and colors are available in the market. You have to be careful in choosing a size because it will matter to drainage capacity (rain rate), weight, supporting fixtures, and ultimately, the cost.
Choosing the Right Gutters
With such a variety of gutters available and so many factors to be weighed, it’s easy to get confused. Indeed, it is advisable to consult a gutter or roofing contractor or specialist to advise you, supply and install the gutter.
Common Gutter Problems
Gutters are essential, but there are some problems associated with them as well.
- Blockages – With plenty of vegetation, and strong winds, roofs are likely to be host to huge amounts of dried leaves. Rainwater carries with it a lot of debris and leaves that had collected on your roof. Not all of that goes ‘down the drain’, some of it stays and starts clogging the gutter. These leaves can block up the gutter up. Come heavy rains and snowfall, the gutters overflow, defeating the very purpose for which they were installed.
- Ice and Snow – In most parts of Minnesota, snow is common, and it can do great mischief. When temperatures are still below zero, snow on the roof can melt due to heat from the indoors, and flow into the gutters. The gutter being still below zero will re-freeze the melt and form ice dams in the gutter. Any more water flowing over it can spill over the edge of the gutter and may even form icicles, and when they finally melt these icicles will drip. More seriously, water blocked by these ice dams and that formed from melting snow gradually seeps below the shingles, through the tar paper. Ultimately, it can reach into the plywood and damage the roof along with fascia and soffit. Gutters clogged with leaves and debris promote build-up of ice dams. To reduce this possibility, have your gutters as well as your roof cleaned before the onset of winter. A Roof loaded with leaves will also promote ice dam formation in the gutters.
- Physical Damage – And finally, water weighs heavy. Ice, water, and soaked leaves form a heavy mass, and parts of poorly maintained gutters may not support the weight. Therefore, all the more reason why you should get your gutters cleaned professionally.
Quick Fixes for Gutter Problems
There are things homeowners can do on their own such as:
- Regular Gutter Cleaning – For centuries homeowners have been cleaning their own gutters. It involves sweeping, scooping, scraping and washing down with jets of water, while standing on a ladder or on the roof. The act can be dangerous and is best done by a professional, especially if it is a double-story house. Cleaning prior to winter will be most helpful in avoiding ice dams.
- Thermal Insulation of Roof- Ice dams form when the outside temperature is below freezing and some snow on the roof melts due to leakage of indoor heat through the roof. This melt again freezes when reaches the gutter and gets exposed to the air. When more melt comes and overflows the dam, it forms into icicles hanging from the side of the gutter. A well-insulated roof will prevent ice dams.
- Heating Cables – Another option against ice dams is electric heating wires which keep the gutter warm enough so it does not freeze. In this way, gutter blockade due to heavy snowfall can be prevented
- Using Gutter Covers – Installing covers or guards is another option chosen by most people. Gutter cover designs vary from solid to screen and a combination of both. Some slid covers have reverse louvers, the basic idea is to avoid leaves and finer debris going through. A gutter cover does reduce the frequency of gutter cleaning needed but the installation cost may overweigh the expense of many years of cleaning. It is always good to consult a specialist like Zablocki.
The Best Option is to Get Professional Help
Whether you are installing a new gutter, want it cleaned, or are thinking of repair, the choice is bewildering. There is just one piece of advice that will put your mind at ease. If you are not sure, look for a specialist. If you’re in St. Cloud, MN or surrounding areas, you need not look far. Just call the professionals at Zablocki, they pride in being experts at “anything roofing”. Shane Zablocki, the owner, has been roofing and learning this industry before he was even able to drive, and now has experience of over sixteen years! His motto is “to the peak of perfection”.