All gutters are troughs that collect rain running off a roof and channel it, with proper slopes, to downspouts that carry the rain water to the ground and away from your siding, windows, doors and foundation. The most commonly used gutter – open gutters – should be regularly cleaned of leaves and debris in order to function properly.
In the course of collecting water, open rain gutters also collect leaves, acorns, pine needles, and other debris which can cause clogs anywhere in the gutter itself or sometimes in the downspouts. In dry conditions clogged gutters are a fire hazard; and during heavy rains, clogged gutters and downspouts can cause rainwater to overflow, potentially causing substantial damage to your building, landscaping and basement.
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When any of these problems occur, it may be time to replace your gutters. Ideally, the life expectancy of the average aluminum gutter is 20 – 30 years or longer, depending on maintenance, the care you take putting ladders against them, and regional weather conditions in your area of the country. Copper gutters may last 50 yrs, and galvanized steel gutters 20 years or less.
Debris Accumulation Loose debris will quickly begin to decompose, matting down and compressing into a solid sheet as it becomes damp, causing gutter clogs. Accumulated debris caused by clogged gutters is a fire hazard, and it is extremely bad for the roof, accelerating wear and backing water up under the shingles. It can also create a solid bridge over the top of the gutters that can send water cascading over the edge. Damage Clogged Gutters Can Cause Basement flooding Foundation cracking and settlement Soil erosion Dry-rot on fascia boards, soffit, and roof Paint damage Window, door and siding damage Mold damage Fire damage in dry, high wind, fire-prone areas Common Causes of Gutter Damage Leaning ladders against gutters to clean them out Seams splitting apart (on non-seamless types) Ice formation Pest infestations Stains caused by constant overflowing and rusting spikes Storm and tree damage