A Homeowner’s Guide to Understanding Gutters

Although they don’t command as much attention as the other parts of your home, you need to recognize just how important your gutters are in keeping your home in good shape.

guide to understand gutter


Gutters direct rainwater runoff away from your house and into your drainage system, thereby protecting your:

  • roof
  • foundation
  • landscaping
  • siding and masonry
  • windows and doors

what is gutter protection


Gutter manufacturers understand just how big a role gutters play in protecting your home, which is why they constantly strive to improve their products’ functionality and design. There are a variety of gutter options available on the market today, most of which are categorized according to:

  • Material. Gutters can be made out of vinyl, copper, cast iron, aluminum, and stainless steel. Of these, vinyl requires the least maintenance, but stainless steel is considered to be the best buy.
  • Profiles. Popular gutter profiles include half-round, box (square), and K-style (ogee).
  • Continuity. Gutters are can be either sectional or seamless. Sectional gutters are sold in pieces while seamless gutters are extruded on-site. Seamless gutters cost more, but they are less susceptible to leaks.

gutter profiles

Regardless of the type of gutters you have on your home, you can improve their performance and service life by:

  • Installing gutter guards. Gutter guards are accessories installed on top of gutters to keep leaves and other debris out. Some types of gutter guards work better than others, so consult a contractor before deciding which type you want to have installed.
  • Periodic cleaning. There is no getting around the need to clean your gutters unless you have a good gutter protection system in place. And even then, some gutter guards don’t completely eliminate the need for routine cleaning. Keep in mind that ladder safety is key in gutter cleaning.
  • Fast repairs. Gutter problems must be taken care of before they get worse. Some of the most common issues involving gutters are clogging, sagging, leaking, and improper pitching.

It pays to remember, however, that these methods are really just add-ons. If you want your gutters to be functional and to stay functional, you have to be particular about who installs them and how they are installed from the get-go. Here are some of the things you’ll want to ask your contractor:

gutter repairs

  • Will you provide a written estimate?
  • How long will the job take?
  • Will my roof interfere with the performance of my gutters (or vice versa)?
  • Will your method of installation or the products you use affect my roof’s warranty?
  • What kind of gutter maintenance will be needed?
  • Do you install gutter covers?
  • What does your gutter warranty cover? (Ask for both labor and materials.)

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! A good contractor will be more than happy to address your concerns.

You’ll also want to observe when your contractor does a final static water test on your gutters. As a final note, here’s a very basic reminder: for your protection, work only with a licensed and insured contractor with extensive experience with gutters and a good local reputation.

Author Bio:

John Rogers is a passionate roofer and president of Rogers Roofing. He enjoys playing baseball with his sons, and he never misses his daughter’s dance recitals. He also loves helping people, which he hopes to achieve by sharing his experiences in his blog.

Erin Emanuel


  1. So if we get a good protection system for our gutters, we don’t have to clean them? What exactly does that entail? I’m gone frequently and i don’t want my wife to have to climb up and clean them out if I don’t have time, so if we get gutters I want some that don’t require much work. I just know that gutters are super useful.

  2. Thanks for your post. My neighbor just got seamless gutters installed while getting his roof replaced. Now he is trying to convince me to do the same, since I have a few leaks in my gutters. However, I’m not really sure that it will make a huge difference, but since everyone agrees that they are better, maybe I should give them a try.

  3. Gutters are long narrow troughs that collect rainwater from the roof of a home or building. Rain gutters protect a building’s exterior walls and foundation by routing water away from the structure. An amazing article. It’s nice to read a quality blog post.

  4. I’m not really an expert when it comes to cutters and what they should look like. So, I would think that calling a professional to come and do the inspection and do the cleaning would be most effective so that problems get addressed and fixed right away. I appreciate the insight! Nick Planet Green

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