Gutters and Downspouts: A Primer

Gutters and Downspouts: A Primer

An effective gutter system is necessary tomanage the potentially damaging effects of rainwater around the home.  Faulty or improperly working guttersystems can lead to damage of siding, soil erosion, and even foundation damage.

Although gutters come in many varieties, most are typically seen in 4", 5",and 6" K-styles as well as half-round styles.  Depending on the slope of the roof wider gutters may benecessary to catch water that is coming off a more pitched roof at a greater velocity. 

Vertical leaders (whether conventionaldownspouts or rain chains) are used to capture and distribute the collectedrainwater in the gutters to areas set apart from the structuresfoundation.  In areas where thelanding zone of the water runoff is too close to the foundation a splash blockcan be used to direct the water further away from the foundation.  Areas where gutters and leaders connect shouldbe maintained to keep debris such as leaves free from clogging up thesystem.  There are certain productssuch as gutter guards that can help to prevent leaves and other debris fromclogging the gutter system.

Leader diameters are typically 2" x3" however larger sizes are sometimes used for larger roofs and moreefficient drainage.  Virtually anysize leader can feed a rain chain with a standard gutter reducer attachment.  Gutter systems are typically available ingalvanized steel, aluminum and copper. Copper gutters have the commonly desired effect of gaining a patinafinish over time.  Rain chains madeof copper will also gain this patina over time.

While guttering systems are typically needed to effectively managewater runoff from the roof, many times the vertical, typically rectangular,metal downspouts can be aesthetically off-putting.  Often they are installed in such a way as to hide theapparatus as much as possible. This is one of the added advantages of rain chains is that not only dothey function as an effective downspout, but they also have the added benefitof looking great and accenting the architecture of a structure.

gutters and downspouts

  Conventional gutter system

gutter with rain chain

  Gutter system with rain chain