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  • Zups Construction

Gutter System: The Difference Between Gutters and Downspouts

Updated: Apr 11, 2023


a picture of a gutter used by Zups Construction

Our homes provide protection from exposure to the elements. They do this so well that we often take what our homes do for granted. Roofs protect us from wind, rain, snow, and even the sun's harsh rays. Windows allow us to see outside and provide similar protection and ventilation to keep fresh air flowing.


Perhaps no part of our home is overlooked so much as a home's gutter system. Gutters use the natural properties of water and gravity to direct moisture accumulation away from your roof and walls. One of the properties of water is cohesion, which means water tends to stick to other water droplets and objects. It's the main reason we get wet when we walk in the rain and a big reason why gutters are needed in your home.


Gutters come in an assortment of types. From scuppers on flat-roofed buildings to seamless gutters, and downspouts, each tackles a specific problem with your building type and the natural properties of water.


Water removal is crucial to protect the structural integrity and look of your home. Zups Construction has been installing gutters for years with the know-how and dedication to quality you expect from a professional.


Why do You Need a Reliable Gutter System?

Rainwater run-off is diverted from the gutters into an underground pipe to a small retention garden area where it is absorbed.

Since water is "sticky," it tends to grab onto surfaces. Water is also one of the most destructive natural forces on Earth. Water is responsible for carving coastlines, cutting rivers through valleys, and even creating gorges in the tallest mountains in the world.


Because water can transport particles known as sediment, over time, water can be very abrasive. You'll see this on paint, wooden decks, and even stone. Water also expands when it freezes. Because of the forces these hydraulic laws of physics can exert, the water that gets into the nooks and crannies of your roof, walls, and even foundation can freeze and ruin the structural integrity of your home.


Gutters allow the water that accumulates from weather and other sources to be channeled to areas where it won't cause damage to your home. The cohesive properties of water allow it to roll under the edge of roof shingles and even into the siding. It would be almost impossible to waterproof your house. Still, gutters allow it to resist excess water and move it somewhere it won't do any harm.


Reduce Water Damage

Old broken Gutter system on a rural house, shallow depth of field, selective focus

Different types of water damage resulting from water staying in one place for too long. Building materials might become saturated and begin to degrade. Wallboards such as drywall and particle boards can swell and warp if they become too wet over time. Even fired brick can soften with too much saturation and, due to the erosive qualities of water, will eventually wear away and crumble.

  • Foundations: The frost action of water that is allowed to collect against foundations can leach into cracks and crevices and turn tiny cracks into big problems.

  • Eaves: Your eaves are areas where your roof extends over the walls of your home. Water can still cling to eaves and run back to the walls without proper drainage.

  • Damage to siding: Water running freely and continually against the siding can seep into the protective barrier outside your home.

  • Mold: Constant dampness and standing water can become a habitat for spores that bloom into mold colonies. The digestive chemicals molds and fungi use to get nutrients quickly break down organic materials such as wood and paper. They can even lead to allergies, illnesses such as asthma, and even cancers.

  • Standing water around structures: Standing water can soften the ground around your home, causing the ground to shift and cause problems with your foundation.


Two Important Components of Gutter System

Rain gutter system comes in a variety of components, but more commonly for residential homes, we will be looking at two types: Gutters and downspouts.


Gutter materials are most often fabricated sheet metal or weatherized plastic. They attach to the edge of your eaves on a flat surface called a fascia. The fascia is designed to hold the weight of the gutter and the water it has to transport, all while keeping a backflow of water from going back into your shingles, soffits, and walls.


The gutters run horizontally along the edge of your roof. They are pitched at a slight angle to direct the water either directly out of the end of the gutter or through a downspout. Gutters can be open or seamless. Seamless gutters are a type of peaked gutter that allows water to drain while keeping out leaves and debris.


Downspouts are often integrated into a gutter system to divert water vertically to where it can be directed further away from your house and foundation or even collected into a rain barrel or even directly onto your lawn. You install a downspout to help slow down the water as it rushes to limit erosion from impact from the area.


Downspouts can be found on gutters along the edge of peaked roofs and flat roof drainage. Extra downspouts are especially useful in distributing the volume of water throughout a gutter system. They prevent overflow in rain gutters and reduce the weight load of water. Downspouts can limit the weight caused by ice dams and keep your gutters running smoothly.


Call a Professional Installer

A professional installer can judge the project's size and consider the geometry of your home and any features that need to be protected with the right components of the gutter system you want to be installed. From here, they will know the proper placement of gutters and downspouts to protect your property further. Contact Zups Construction today to speak with a professional installer and show your home the care and attention it needs to last through generations.

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