The need to collect rainwater for drinking and channel water for irrigation dates back to ancient times. Wooden gutters and downspouts, were developed in recently. Rainwater captured in barrels was used for bathing and washing. The original wood gutters were made from old growth cedar, a product that became rarely available, and was substituted with new cedar or hemlock wood, lined with zinc to help them last longer.
In the twentieth century, steel became a popular material for rain gutters because of its resistance to rotting and its strength. After World War II when aluminum became available for industrial uses, it became the popular choice for gutters because of its light weight and durability.
In the 1960’s, the invention of seamless aluminum gutters changed the situation completely. A machine was developed that holds a roll of aluminum, called gutter coil, at one end, and extrudes a formed gutter at the other end. The formed gutter can be cut to any length desired and custom fit to the home on site. This method of creating gutters without seams, makes the gutters stronger and leak proof.
Today over 70% of residential gutters are seamless aluminum gutters, also known as roll-formed gutters, (OG or K-style gutters.) Seamless gutters come in a wide choice of colors, painted and baked on to the metal when it is made. Seamless aluminum gutters are custom fit to your home on site.
All gutters are troughs that collect rain running off a roof and channel it, with proper slopes, to downspouts that carry the rain water to the ground and away from your siding, windows, doors and foundation. The most commonly used gutter – open gutters – should be regularly cleaned of leaves and debris in order to function properly.
In the course of collecting water, open rain gutters also collect leaves, acorns, pine needles, and other debris which can cause clogs anywhere in the gutter itself or sometimes in the downspouts. In dry conditions clogged gutters are a fire hazard; and during heavy rains, clogged gutters and downspouts can cause rainwater to overflow, potentially causing substantial damage to your building, landscaping and basement.
Covers for gutters, gutter guards and screens to keep debris out, can reduce or eliminate these problems and lengthen the life of your gutters. (See more about these in our section on gutter covers, gutter guards and gutter screens).