Gutters and rooflines can be some of the most under-appreciated and misunderstood features of a home, but they work together to accomplish an important goal: protecting your home from the elements. While they quite obviously shield your interior from direct rain, what many people don’t realize is how destructive the sheer weight of water and debris can be to every part of your home — right down to the foundation.
The choice of gutters, however, always seems unclear. There are various styles or seamless or sectional gutters, and several types of screens and guards to help protect them. While much of the difference comes in terms of the cost of installation, maintenance, and repairs over the life of your home, the nature of the environment your roof and gutter systems are protecting your home from has a lot to do with which choice will really net you the best protection. We’ll cover some of the general advantages of seamless and sectional gutters below (and you can read more about gutter guards here) but a local gutter contractor like Aerotech in St. Louis can tell you more about the environmental considerations specific to your home.
Ok, so sectional or seamless?
In the past, gutters were mass-produced according to specific lengths. As a result, when they were installed, they had to be installed in sections and joined with sealants. But as with all things, these sealants with time become corroded, resulting in leakages. However, when seamless gutters were introduced, they completely eliminated the need for these sectional gutters, as one piece can be molded and installed in to fit your roofline.
That said, we’ll be frank: all gutters leak. This is due, in part, to the fact that there will always be junctions where you’ll need to join with another side or feature of your gutter system.
In any gutter system, joints will require the application of sealants to ensure that the gutters stay leak-proof. With seamless gutters, there will be fewer joints, and fewer leaks for that reason. And, luckily, any leaks that occur can generally be fixed without removing anything, so the size and length of seamless gutters tends to only factor in when having to make larger repairs.
Minimizing Repair Costs
For most gutters, repairs often center on rotting, leaks, and corrosion caused by stagnant water or the weight of melting ice. Sectional gutter systems, with more joints, will tend to suffer the weight of this abuse more than seamless gutter systems. In more extreme cases of damage, the larger seamless gutters may become more complicated to repair or replace but this becomes less of a concern if they are regularly cleaned and maintained.
Ease of Cleaning
Seamless gutters are generally much easier to clean, and that’s a real help, since you’ll never want to fall behind on cleaning them. The disadvantage to sectional gutters is the fact that their joints tend to produce a lot of hard-to-reach areas that can start to collect debris or ice. Being more troublesome to clean and more prone to clogs and the like can contribute to higher maintenance investments, though this can vary depending on the type of foliage in your area and how far away from your roofline the nearest trees are.
Ease of Installation
In spite of their bulk, seamless systems are pretty easy and cheap to install. With sectional gutters, you or your contractor would end up spending a lot more time trying to get the right fit and adding sealants.
In the end, seamless gutter systems do tend to come out on top. But the performance and life of your roofline and gutter systems still hinges on keeping them clean and taking your environment into account. If you’re unsure of the system that works best for your home, it’s worth a little more research, and at least a phone call to a licensed contractor.