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  • Writer's pictureColorado Gutter Professionals

All About Gutters and Downspouts: Your Home Guide

All About Gutters and Downspouts: Your Home Guide

Installing new gutters and downspouts is an essential home improvement project for any homeowner. Properly designed gutters and downspouts help control water flow and prevent moisture damage around your home.

This article will cover everything you need to know about selecting, installing, and maintaining gutters and downspouts for your home's exterior drainage system.

Article Outline

  1. An Introduction to Gutters and Downspouts

  2. Common Types of Gutters

  3. The Key Parts of a Complete Gutter System

  4. How to Determine the Correct Gutter Size

  5.  How to Install Gutters and Downspouts Correctly

  6. Maintaining Gutters and Downspouts

  7.  Conclusion and Key Takeaways

An Introduction to Gutters and Downspouts 

Gutters are the troughs installed along the roof's edge that collect rainwater runoff from the roof's surface. The water then flows through the gutters and downspouts, draining away from the house's foundation. Downspouts are the vertical pipes that carry rainwater from the gutters down and away from the house.

Together, gutters and downspouts form an exterior drainage system that controls roof runoff. This prevents flooding, soil erosion, moisture accumulation around foundations, and damage to siding, windows, and landscaping. Properly installed gutters and downspouts are essential to protect your home.

Common Types of Gutters

Gutters come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. Here are some of the most common types:

  • K-Style: This is the most popular aluminum gutter profile, with a flat back and curved front. K-style gutters are readily available in 5-7-inch widths.

  • Half-Round: Usually made of copper, galvanized steel, or aluminum. The semi-circular shape of half-round gutters can collect more water volume than K-style.

  • Box or Rectangular: Made of galvanized steel or aluminum. Rectangular gutters have a more streamlined, architectural look but collect less water.

  • Seamless gutters are formed on-site from aluminum coil stock. Since they are custom-fitted without seams, seamless gutters have an appealing appearance.

Gutters come in several colors and styles, typically categorized by size and profile. When selecting new gutters, consider how much water volume they can carry and the overall look you want.

The Key Parts of a Complete Gutter System

A fully-functioning gutter system is made up of several components:

  • Gutter lengths – Installed end-to-end with joiner pieces and sealed to prevent leaks.

  • Downspouts – Vertical drainage pipes usually have downspouts for every 30-40 feet of gutter. Should have elbows to direct water away from the house.

  • Outlet tubes – Connect the gutters to the downspouts. Use drop outlets for steep roofs.

  • Downspout extensions – Plastic or flexible tubes to direct water at least 5-10 feet from the house. Prevents foundation flooding.

  • Gutter guards – Covers that fit inside gutters to block debris while allowing water through. Help prevent clogs.

  • Hangers, straps, screws – Used to anchor gutters to fascia boards and link gutter lengths securely.

How to Determine the Correct Gutter Size 

Choosing the right gutter size for your home depends on several factors:

  • Roof size – The square footage of the roof surface determines how much rain runoff the gutters must handle.

  • Roof pitch – Steeper roofs require more gutter capacity to manage heavier water flow.

  • Average rainfall – Your home's location and climate impact how much water could end up in the gutters.

As a general rule of thumb for adequate drainage capacity:

  • 5" K-style gutters for ranch homes under 800 sq. ft. 

  • 6" K-style for larger two-story homes around 1200 sq. ft. 

  • 7" K-style for steep roofs or big homes over 1600 sq. ft.

Oversized gutters provide more capacity for heavy rainfall. Consulting a gutter sizing calculator is best to get specific size recommendations based on your roof's dimensions and rainfall averages. This ensures your new gutter system can handle the volume of water runoff in your area.

How to Install Gutters and Downspouts Correctly

Proper installation is key for gutters and downspouts to move water away from the foundation effectively. Here is an overview of the installation process:

  • Measure and calculate the required gutter lengths, outlet tubes, and downspouts.

  • Snap chalk lines along the fascia as a guide for positioning gutters.

  • Mount sturdy hangers clipped to gutters using screws. Space hangers 32" -36" apart.

  • Join gutter sections with slip joints sealed with caulk. Use drop outlets to connect to downspouts.

  • Install downspout elbows and straps to anchor them 4-5 ft from the foundation.

  • Attach downspout extensions to direct water at least 10 feet from the house. Prevent foundation flooding.

  • Seal all gutter seams and joints with caulk for a watertight installation.

  • Consider adding gutter guards to new gutters to minimize debris buildup.

Hiring a professional installer experienced with gutters is best to ensure proper positioning, slope, and drainage capacity. Correct installation prevents leaks and other problems.

Maintaining Gutters and Downspouts 

Routine gutter maintenance keeps your drainage system working properly by preventing clogs, overflows, and water damage. Here are some tips:

  • Inspect gutters seasonally and clear out leaves, sticks, and debris. Flush with a hose.

  • Check attachments are secure. Re-secure any loose gutter or downspout sections.

  • Ensure downspouts are unblocked and allow water to flow freely. Remove any obstructions.

  • If needed, extend downspouts to direct water away from the house's foundation.

  • Patch small leaks immediately with caulk or gutter sealant. Replace badly damaged aluminum downspouts or sections.

  • Consider gutter guards to minimize debris buildup and reduce required maintenance.

Conclusion and Key Takeaways

Installing quality gutters and downspouts customized for your home is a smart investment. Well-designed systems properly control rainwater flow and prevent expensive moisture damage. 

Here are some key takeaways:

  • Gutters and downspouts divert roof runoff away from foundations, preventing water issues.

  • Choose the right size based on roof dimensions, pitch, and rainfall amounts.

  • Downspouts should extend 10+ feet to drain water completely away from the house.

  • Routine cleaning is needed to ensure proper drainage and prevent clogs.

  • Professional installation ensures optimal positioning and drainage capacity.

  • Use durable, high-quality materials like heavy-gauge aluminum for longevity.

With the right gutters and downspouts properly installed and maintained, you can protect your home from the elements for years. Let me know if you have any other questions!

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