Your gutters help keep your house safe during storms by diverting water away from your property. Without them, water can back up onto your roof, drench your siding and flood your landscape, even seeping into your foundation. Gutters are extremely important for your home, but unfortunately many homeowners overlook them unless they are experiencing problems.
Knowing more about your gutters will empower you to take better care of them. Read on as Barry Best Seamless Gutters, a top gutter contractor in the local area, discusses the history of gutters.
What Are Gutters For?
The purpose of gutters is to direct precipitation that lands on your roof to the downspouts and safely away from your home. Without functioning gutters, moisture can settle in and around your home, leading to mold and mildew growth as well as poor indoor air quality.
Warm, moist air can cause condensation problems on windows as well as rot in the wooden components of your attic.
Why Are They So Important?
An efficient gutter system will prevent roof damage as well as mold in the shingles, soffit, fascia and masonry. Excessive moisture in windows can damage sills and interior walls. When water doesn’t drain properly when it rains, water will run along your foundation, causing problems like erosion and basement flooding.
If you have garden beds on the side of your home, the soil erosion will cause water to puddle and drown your plants. Soil erosion is something you shouldn’t take lightly. This issue will cause your foundation to settle, which can result in uneven floors and cracked walls and chimney. When your basement floods or your siding is rotting, it is a strong indication that your gutters are not functioning properly.
When and Where They Originated
The earliest rain gutters originated in the Indus Valley Civilization from 3,000 BC to 1,500 BC. Gutters from this era were made from drains covered in burnt clay bricks. When the Roman Empire came to power, they created roadway drainage systems by making them higher in the middle, allowing rain to flow down into “gutters.” This civilization then brought this system to England around 47 AD.
10th to 13th Centuries
During the Norman Empire’s rule between the 10th and 13th centuries, gutter systems were integrated into architecture. Many structures were rebuilt with stone roofs and parapets with gargoyles. Water flowed out of the mouths of these gargoyles.
The Tower of London was one of the buildings with early gutters. King Henry III asked the Keeper of the Works at the Tower to extend its lead gutters to keep its stark white walls protected. This paved the way to the first efficiently working downspout.
Henry VIII is of course most famous for dividing the Church of England from papal authority and beheading two of his wives. A little known fact about this notorious monarch is that he accidentally helped revolutionize gutter systems. When he ordered the Dissolution of the Monasteries, he cut back their income as well as resources from buildings.
The government and wealthy nobleman took the most valuable assets of monasteries and convents, lead roofs and gutters. Suddenly, the material became more common and accessible in Britain. This means lead gutters became more affordable and were incorporated into buildings across the country.
Cast iron was ready available in the early 1700s, and many manufacturers made gutters out of it instead of lead. Near the end of the century, wood was carved into V-shapes and attached to buildings and luxury homes as gutters. Gutters were eventually lined with zinc as metal became more available.
When the Industrial Revolution began, gutters started being mass produced. This made the component more affordable than ever. Gutters became more common during the Victorian Era, as Victorians came to realize that gutters helped keep their homes in better shape for longer. Gutters kept their walls dry and less people in the family experienced ailments.
In the early 1900s, steel became the most popular gutter material due to its strength and resistance to rot. New technologies were developed to manufacture gutters in the Second Industrial Revolution. Metal rolling machines were invented, allowing builders to roll half-round steel gutters and install them on the edges of homes and buildings.
However, during and after the second World War, steel became more difficult to access, and aluminum was starting to be used for industrial purposes. Soon, aluminum became the most common gutter material because of its light weight and excellent strength. During this period, manufacturers also began developing plastic materials for gutter use.
Come 1960s, seamless gutters were introduced and entirely changed the industry. Builders use a roll forming machine and a coil of aluminum to make gutters on site. These gutters are made to fit the exact dimensions of your home, minimizing seams as well as leaks. By the 1980s, seamless gutters became the most popular type of gutters. Gutter covers were introduced to the market around this time as well. Aluminum surpassed steel as the most popular gutter material due to its strength, versatility and ease of installation. Today, most gutter systems are made from aluminum.
Don’t Forget About Gutter Maintenance
Your gutters need regular maintenance to work properly. They must be free of leaves, branches and other debris. When these items buildup, water will overflow to your siding and back up to the roof when it rains. Over time, this will result in damage to different parts of your exterior as well as your foundation. Another problem that can occur with a clogged gutter system is mold.
For your safety, it’s best to hire a professional to do the job. Climbing the ladder can be dangerous for those who don’t have training and experience. You may also risk your gutters of damage by attempting to clean them. Just make sure to hire a reputable contractor for your gutter repair and replacement needs. Experts recommend having your roof cleaned at least twice a year, preferably before the winter and then again in the spring.
One thing you can do to minimize debris in your gutters is to invest in a quality gutter protection system. Gutter guards will filter out debris so water can flow freely on your gutters and downspouts. They won’t only keep your gutters clean but also prolong its life.
Also, problems on your gutter system must be addressed immediately. In winter, gutter damage usually occurs due to ice damming, rust, fallen tree limbs, and normal wear. If you believe your gutters have issues, have them inspected by a professional and prioritize repairs if necessary.