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What Does Your Roof Gutter System Do?

close up of roof gutter system

What Exactly are Roof Gutters & How Do They Work?

Almost all properties have them, especially residential properties. But what purpose do your gutters perform? Are they really that important, and what’s the big deal about keeping them clean? In this brief article, we’ll explain what exactly your gutters do to keep your house safe, and we’ll give some professional insight as to why this is so important. 

*SPOILER ALERT* They are essential to the structural integrity of your property. Neglect of your gutters and downpipes can lead damage that can potentially run into the thousands of dollars.

Their Function

Step outside your home and look at the roof. You’ll see a trough-style attachment that runs along the edge of your roof, and most cases will continue around the perimeter of your entire roof. There will be pipes connected to the gutters that run into small drains every few metres, these are your downpipes. This system is designed to channel rainwater that falls onto your roof into designated drainage points. Without this water would merely run-off all-around your home where it would likely collect in pools in low-lying areas. This could potentially cause damage to the foundations of your property. This would be very detrimental to the structure and even a health and safety hazard. 

What are the Components of a Gutter System?

The actual gutters are just one of the components that make up your gutter system. Without each of the following features, the whole system would cease to function effectively:

  • Gutters – The star of the show. What you see, running alongside the roof. It is essentially a trough connected to the roof, or a verandah, which helps collect all the water running off the roof. Gutters in Australia are typically made from aluminium to stop them from rusting.
  • End-cap: Not all houses have them it will depend on the style of your house/roof, but if you do have them you’ll see them at the end of each gutter. End-caps stop water from flowing out the end of the gutter
  • Downpipe: Water runs along the gutters into the top of the downpipe and flows in a designated drainage point, commonly a drain or soak-well. 
  • Valleys: Valleys are the troughs that run down from your roof’s edges and corners down to the gutter.

What Do I Need to do to Keep My Gutters Functioning Optimally?

To ensure that your gutters are functioning at 100% they will need to be kept clear of debris such as leaf-litter, sand, soil, rubbish etc. If you do not keep your gutters and downpipes clear, they will eventually become too blocked will not flow at all. This becomes a ticking-timebomb until the next heavy rainfall where water will leak into your roof, causing internal water damage. You do not want to get to this stage.

Depending on your local environment, this may mean getting a professional gutter cleaning service annually. In areas where there are many trees, it is common to get their gutters cleaner 2-3 times a year. If you do not wish to pay for a gutter cleaner, you can, of course, clean your own gutters. But if you should do this be cautious, roofs can become very slippery during the rainy season. Only go up onto a ladder or a roof if you are confident at heights and possess a good sense of balance. If you’re set on doing it yourself, you might be interested in reading our articles on the best gutter cleaning tools to buy. Whatever you decide, just remember to always make sure your gutters and downpipes are flowing freely.

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