Most people don’t think about their guttering, let alone what type of guttering style they have on their home. But the truth is there are a range of different gutter styles and materials and they all have their pros and cons.
Understanding the differences can help you to get the most out of your guttering and avoid costly roof repairs. Our handy guide to common gutter types and what to watch out for can save you money, while helping you to keep your roof in top condition.
Know your Gutter Style
- Fascia Guttering
Fascia guttering, sometimes also called eaves guttering, is the most common residential guttering style for Australian homes. These gutters get their name from the way they are fixed to the fascia — that is, the board that runs under the edge of the roof. You should be able to clearly see this kind of guttering from the ground.
This style of guttering is particularly good for high volumes of water. However, the gutters do need to be kept clean otherwise the gutters and downpipes can become blocked. When this happens, water can start to pool in the gutters and overflow. Pooling water and excess debris can add weight to your gutters, which it may not be designed to handle. This can lead to the gutter pulling away from the fascia and tearing holes in your walls and roof. Holes in the fascia can allow water to access your roof cavity, leading to a whole range of water damage problems, including the risk of electrical fires.
- Concealed Guttering
You’re less likely to see concealed gutters on residential properties and not just because they’re hidden from view. Concealed guttering has long been out of fashion, with fascia guttering the more popular option. However, they are still used for some residential and commercial buildings.
As the name suggests, concealed gutters cannot be seen from the ground. They’re built behind the fascia rather than above it. While this can be useful when you need roof space for signs, lighting and security cameras, it can lead to a lot of problems.
In some circumstances, particularly when there has been little rain, concealed gutters are popular places for creatures to nest including birds, rats and even possums. When this happens, your gutters won’t function correctly as the water flow can be blocked.
Additionally, concealed gutters can have problems with water pooling, which can lead to the gutters corroding or sag from the weight.
When concealed gutters fail, water flows down the side of the house, rather than through downpipes. This can lead to structural damage to your home, as well as unpleasant water stains on exterior walls.
- Box Gutters
Box gutters have become more popular for residential properties over recent years. As they are boxed in close to the roof’s edge, they are not visible from the ground, making them an alternative to concealed gutters.
Unfortunately, box gutters tend to overflow in heavy rain. Unlike concealed gutters, where the majority of the overflow goes down the walls of the house, box gutters tend to direct the water back onto the roof. This build-up can force water into the roof cavity, leading to water damage inside the home as well as the need for expensive roof restoration.
Know your Guttering Materials
Together with the different guttering styles, there are also a range of different gutter materials, each with its pros and cons.
Vinyl is an inexpensive, lightweight material that often suits the gutter needs of most homeowners. It doesn’t rust or corrode and can even be installed by a home DIY enthusiast. However, vinyl guttering can sag and it has a tendency to get brittle and crack in the cold.
Like vinyl, aluminium is inexpensive, as well as lightweight and rustproof. Additionally, it’s weather resistant. However, aluminium guttering won’t be as strong and durable as stainless steel gutters.
- Stainless Steel
As one of the more expensive options, stainless steel guttering can certainly be worth the cost. It’s durable, rustproof and, with proper maintenance, can be expected to have the longest lifespan of any gutter material.
Make the Most of your Gutters
With the above information, you should be able to easily work out the style and material of your home gutters and know what problems to keep an eye out for.
When it comes to cleaning any style of gutters, the basic principles are the same. Regularly check the condition of your gutters and clean them out by hand — every few months or so, or more if it has been raining frequently. This may be a little trickier if you have concealed or boxed gutters, but it’s still a must to avoid water damage to your home.
As you clean, look for signs that your gutters may need repairs or replacing. These signs include rust, sagging or cracking. Check for mould, rot or water stains nearby — these signs may mean your gutters have overflowed recently.
While one gutter may seem indistinguishable from another, there is significant variation. This variation can affect how you care for your gutters and even have an impact on your bank account.