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Gutters Glossary & Information

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Gutters Glossary

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Apron Flashing: A horizontal flashing installed where the top end of a roof slpe meets a vertical projections, such as a c himne or parapet wall. Usually metal.

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Barge: A finishing at the gable end of a roof that is fixed parallel to the roof slope.

Base Flashing: The portion of flashing attached to or resting upon the deck with the purpose of directing the flow of water onto the roof covering. Piles or strips of roof membrane material used to close off and/or seal a roof at the horizontal-to-vertical intersections, covers the edge of the field membrane and extends up the vertical surface.

BMT: Abbreviation for Base Metal Thickness.

Box Gutter:  A gutter not an eave, typically at the base of two opposing roof slopes.

Box Miter: Adjoins two pieces of gutter at a 90° angle inside or outside.


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Cap Flashing: The portion of the flashing that is attached to a vertical surface to prevent water from migrating behind the base flashing.

Capping: A cover used at the top of a gap for weatherproofing.

Chimney Gutter:  Also known as a gutter Soaker; a small gutter located on the upper side of a chimney stack.  

Counter Flashing: A flashing that is dressed down as a cover only over a separate upstand.

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Downpipe, Downspout: A pipe used to transport water from gutters and roof catchments to drains or storage tanks.

Downspout Boot: A decorative extension placed at the end of the downspout

Downspout Clean Out:  Downspout extension that includes a trap for catching debris

Downspout Extension: A section added to the downspout to extend it.

Downspout Strap:  A simple strap designed to attach the downspout to a structure, also known as a leader strap.

Drainage: A system designed to direct water away from the house usually comprised of drainage pipes and gutters.

Drip Edge: A non-corrosive, non-staining material used along the eaves and rakes to allow water run-off to drip clear of underling construction.

Drop: Sometimes called a Pop; a short fitting in a gutter sole where rainwater leaves the gutter.

Drop Outlet: Formed piece that serves as the hole from which the water travels from the horizontal section of the gutter to the downspout.

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Eave:  The part of the roof that meet or overhangs the walls of the building.

Eave Gutter: A roof gutter attached at an eaves overhang.

Elbow: A pre-finished fitting that attach to the downspout. One end of the gutter elbow is crimped so that it can fit inside another elbow or downspout, placed at the bottom of the downspout near ground level to direct drainage in a particular direction.

Electrolytic (galvanic) Corrosion: Corrosion that results from the contact of two different metals when an electrolyte like water is present.

End Cap: Flat formed piece that attaches to and closes off the end of a gutter.

Expansion Joint: A joint in a long run of the gutter designed to allow for thermal expansion and contraction.

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Fall: The slope of the roof gutter, often expressed in degrees or as a ratio of vertical height to horizontal distance (i.e., 1 in 20)

Fascia: A flat board that runs along the eaves of a roof, typically capping the ends of the roof rafters to give the roof edge a more finished look and to provide a base for attaching gutters.

Fascia Bracket: A gutter bracket that mounts to the fascia board, also called a gutter hanger or hanger

Fixings Screw: A nail or clout used to fasten cladding to a building structure.

Flashing: A material, usually metal, used to waterproof the junction between two intersecting roofs and/or wall surfaces.

Funnel Outlet: An outlet placed on the outside of the gutter, used as a decorative alternative to a regular outlet.

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Galvalume: Steel sheeting that is protected against corrosion by aluminum and  zinc coating.

Galvanized Steel: Steel sheeting that is protected against corrosion by a zinc coating applied in a continuous hot-dip process.

Gauge:  Refers to the thickness of the gutter.

Girth: The width of the blank strip from which a profile is rolled, usually for gutters and flashings.

Gutter: A horizontal channel installed at the edge of a roof to carry rainwater and melted snow away from the house.

Gutter Slope:  The angle at which a horizontal section of gutter is tilted in order to force water to flow toward a downspout.

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Half Round Gutter: A gutter that has a half rounded shape.

Hanger:  A flat strap that is installed under the roofing material and used to hold up the horizontal section of the gutter.

Hanging Flashing: A side, front or back cover piece that is used to prevent water infiltration between abutting surfaces and other gutter flashings and soakers.

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Inside Miter Box: A corner piece of the horizontal section that is deflected inward.

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K-Style Gutter: Ogee Gutter.

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Leader: A pipe that carries rainwater from the gutters to the ground, sewer or wells.

Leader Head: A decorative box used to collect rainwater and guide it to the downspout.

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Mansard: A roof built at two pitches, the steeper pitch commencing at the eaves and the flatter pitch finishing at the ridge.

Mitered Corner: Where two pieces of gutter come together; adjoined by either a box miter or a strip meter.

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Nozzle: Also known as a pop; a short fitting in a gutter sole where the rainwater exists the gutter.

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Offset: A pipe fitting that directs a downpipe from the gutter, under the eaves soffit and down a wall or the distance from the outlet back to the wall of the structure.

Oil-canning: Variation from flatness of sheet metal, creating undulations along the surface resulting in a poor appearance and possible ponding.

Outlet: A formed piece that serves as the hole from which the water travels from the horizontal section of the gutter to the downspout, also referred to as the tube, drop outlet, funnel.

Outside Miter Box:: A corner piece of the horizontal section that is deflected outward.

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Pan: Built-in gutters are often referred to as 'box gutters' or 'pan gutters'. They are considered concealed roof drainage systems because they have low visibility.

Parapet: A wall on the perimeter of a building that projects above the line of eaves.

Penetration: A projection through the roof, like a vent pipe, roof light or chimney.

Pierce-Fastned: A method of fixing cladding by means of a screw or nail w hich pierces the cladding.

Pitch: The angle at which a horizontal section of gutter is tilted in order to force water to flow toward a downspout. Also referred to as the 'gutter slope'.

Ponding: When water pools instead of draining.

Pop: A short fitting in a gutter sole, where rainwater leaves the gutter.

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Radius Gutter: A custom gutter formed in rounded sections to accommodate a turret or round area with minimal seaming.

Rainhead: A box shaped receptacle that is sometimes used between a gutter and downpipe to provide an external overflow point.

Rib: A longitudinal upstand in cladding.

Ridge Capping: A formed metal designed to weatherproof the junction at the apex of opposing roof slopes.

Roof Mount: A method of installing the gutter attachment directly to the roof, i.e., a rod with a hidden bracket or a roof bar with a fascia bracket.

Run: A length of horizontal section of gutter.

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Saddle Strap, Straps: Flat hangers that are nailed into the house to hold the downspouts in place.

Sarking: A membrane to collect and discharge water clear of the structure so that it does not penetrate a roof or wall cladding.

Shoe: A fitting used in a downpipe to alter the direction of the downpipe by approximately 45 degrees.

Soaker Gutter: A small gutter located on the upper side of a chimney stack.

Soaker Flashing: A side cover piece extended over a roof cover and over-flashed with a hanging flashing. Formed metal designed to weather proof the perimeter of roof protrusions or penetrations. Soaker flashings are usually positioned under rather than over the surrounding metal roof.

Sole: The internal bottom surface of a roof gutter.

Spherical Cap: Radius end cap.

Splashblock: Plastic or concrete surface put under a downspout to direct water away from the house.

Spouting: Another term for gutter.

Spreader: A downpipe-tee or elbow fixed at 90 degrees to the roof slope used to spread storm water over a greater area of the roof.

Strap:  Flat hangers that are nailed into the house to hold the downspouts in place.

Strip Miter: A strip of metal to connect two pieces of gutter at  an angle  usually  90 or 135 degrees, strip miters do not have a loose corner as do box miters.

Sump:  A roof gutter pit used to connect downpipes to internal roof gutters.

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Tabbed Miter: Used to join two pieces of gutter at a compound angle or non standard (i.e., 90 or 135 degree)

Thermal Stress: The stress due to expansion and contraction that occurs due to changes in temperature.

Trays:  (Pan) Built in gutters, also called box gutters or pan gutters,  considered concealed roof drainage systems because othe their low visibility.

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Valley Boards: A gutter at the bottom intersection of two sloping roofs, also called valley flashing.

Valley Gutter: Timber or profiled metal laid under a valley gutter to support it.

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Wedge: Wedges are used behind fascia brackets to accommodate for an angled fascia or rafter tail. Wedges range from 7.5 degrees to 45 degrees.

Welded Seam Downspout: Welded seam copper downspout and elbows have a smooth seamless appearance versus the more  common folded seam.

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Zincalume: Steel sheeting that is protected against corrosion by an aluminum-zinc coating.

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Gutter Systems 101

Gutters are an important feature for any home, especially if you live in an climate where rain or snow are common occurrences. Your gutters will help protect your home, from the roof on down, including the foundation and toperiary around it by directing any water away from the house.

The ancient Romans build massive aqueduct systems as well as gutters, construction methods that migrated to Great Britain in 47 A.D.. The idea of a water channel attached to the roof quickly caught on. Gargoyles served as decorative downspouts. In the 1700's cast iron became more readily available but it wasn't until the 20th century that rolled metal became available for use in residential buildings. 1960's ushered in the invention of seamless aluminum gutters when a machine was invented that could hold rolls of aluminum (gutter coil) at one end while extrudes formed a gutter at the other end. The pre-formed gutter could be cut to any length and custom fit to any home.

Today, approximately 70% of gutters are made from seamless aluminum and offered in a variety of colors, sizes and shapes with options like being a hidden gutter system. Some homes still use copper gutters.

Environmentally conscious individuals also use gutter systems as a way to collect and use the rainfall, hence the use of rain barrels.

That being said, some people may ask why water means trouble and why it is important to select the right gutter system for their home.

The trouble with water inside begins when water repeatedly collects around the foundation and eventually finds its way inside. Your home can only absorb so much of the moisture before it begins to settle against colder surfaces like your windows, the wood in your attic, and even your walls. Left unattended, this moisture can cause fungal growth and lead to expensive repairs.

The trouble outside? The water run off from the roof not only can seep into and damage the foundation of your home, but it can also cause soil erosion. The build up of water that is not absorbed or directed away will cause your foundation to compress and compact, as it carries the topsoil down through any limestone draining material laid during your homes construction, leading to more back ups.

A good gutter system can save you a lot of expense in the long run.

So what is involved in selecting your gutter system? There are some basics to begin with. The size of your roof area, how many places there are that you can channel the water through a downspout, as well as aesthetics and the maintenance involved in their upkeep.

Gutters can be either seamless - formed to custom lengths and offer joints that won't leak, but must be installed by a contractor. Zip hangers, spike, and ferrule hangers are common but continuous hangers are also available to ensure the gutters are free floating and not attached rigidly to your home. Sectional gutters, cut to specific sizes, are easier to install and are generally less expensive. However they can develop leaks over time, where the sections meet.

Downspouts come in different sizes and shapes, with a smooth or fluted face. Placement of them will depend on your home, roof size and drainage opportunities. If you live in an area with a lot of trees, wildlife, or wind-borne debris, a good gutter protection system will help ensure they do not get clogged, with the added benefit of lessening maintenance requirements.

You will want your downspouts to drain at least five feet away from your home. If you use outlet tubes, you will want to ensure that they are matched in size.

Another factor to consider is your roof pitch, especially if the pitch is steep or so low that it causes your roofing materials to significantly overhang the gutters and can cause overshooting.

Creating proper drainage is done by a good gutter system that involves the gutters and the downspouts. The gutters collect the water, the downspouts carry or direct it away from your home. Avoid diverting run-off into streets and sewer systems, which can further deplete ground water supplies, overtax city sewer systems and dumps lawn fertilizers, pesticides and pollution into rivers, lakes and oceans. Try greener solutions, like directing the water into your garden, or a rain barrel that can allow you to use it later, when drier temperatures require additional lawn watering.

If you live in an area where the climate gets cold, or there are frequent rainstorms, a lot of trees, or other conditions that can affect your gutter system will play a part in choosing your gutters.

Using an Ice Shield, usually a sticky tarpaper that goes under the first few layers of shingles, or flashing, can minimize ice build-up and ensure that there is no leakage when the wind presses the water back against the edge of your roof for any length of time. You can also help avoid Ice Dams by making sure you have proper insulation in your attic. This occurs when the heat inside your home rises, melting the snow and ice on your roof. If the ice build up is heavy enough it can actually cause your gutters to become loose or detach from your home.

A drip edge, a sheet of metal that fits under your shingles and guides the water away from your roof, is also an option.

Iossi is always glad to inspect your current gutter system and make recommendations based on their knowledge of the area and their experience with products that have worked well.

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Gutter System Care & Maintenance

Gutters will periodically need to be cleaned and downspouts checked for blockages. This can be a time consuming, not to mention the percentage of falls from ladders that send a lot of business to local emergency rooms.

One way to limit these is by having a gutter protection system properly installed.

If you are cleaning your gutters yourself, please read any of the cleaning solution manufacturer's instructions carefully to avoid doing harm to yourself, your gutters or the environment. Never use an abrasive cleaner or strong solvents and always test the cleaning solution on a small section before applying it to larger areas.

You can minimize streaking by cleaning from the bottom to the top and then rinsing well with plain water.

If you are using a pressure washer, be sure to read all the instructions and hold the power washer straight at eye level. Do not aim the washer upward which can cause water to collect behind the siding and cause leaks, streaks, or water build up and decay. Set the pressure at a minimum of 1,500 PSI or a maximum of 2,400 using a 40-degree tip. Before using a pressure washer, check the gutter manufacturer's guidelines to see if they recommend that a pressure washer not be used.

If you only have moderate dirt build up, wash with clear water from a garden hose and a soft-bristled brush (a long handled car washing brush is a good choice).

For heavier dirt build up, wash as you would for lighter dirt, using a solution of mild detergent, usually 1/3 cup mixed with 1 gallon of water, or a tri-sodium phosphate solution (use recommended measurements from the manufacturer).

The presence of mildew can be eliminated using a mild detergent, tri-sodium phosphate, or sodium hypochlorite (5%) solution. Follow all solution instructions.

Caulking, tar and other substances: use mineral spirits in reasonable amounts and rinse immediately after with water.

Always employ correct safety measures when using a ladder.

To minimize the number of times per year that you need to clean your gutters, ask Iossi for a free quote on installing a gutter protection system for your home, or the home of a loved one that is not able, or should not be expected to undertake the task of gutter cleaning and maintenance..

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