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Choosing Your Gutter Material

Please, feel free to draw from my 30+ years of experience to help you decide which material to choose for your new rain gutter system. If you currently have steel rain gutters, stay with steel. I know what you're thinking "won't they just rust out. I don't want that to happen again' like my old gutters". The fact of it is the new seamless steel gutter systems are superior in every way to aluminum gutters. Steel gutter is much denser than aluminum gutter, i.e. one pound of aluminum coil will yield 2.2 feet of aluminum gutter. Where as one pound of steel coil will yield 9 inches of steel rain gutter. Steel Rain gutters are sturdy. Aluminum rain gutters are easily damaged. Also, aluminum rain gutters are susceptible to "galvanic corrosion".

Galvanic corrosion occurs when the granules of certain composition shingles collect in the bottom of aluminum rain gutter. In the presence of standing water a chemical reaction occurs. The copper in the granules of algae or stain resistant shingles cause an electric charge between the dissimilar metals. The heavier metal (copper), corrodes the lighter metal (aluminum). The best way to avoid Galvanic corrosion is to choose a material that is least reactive/most compatible with your roof shingles or to choose a shingle without granules saturated with metal compounds (copper, tin or zinc) copper being the most common.

If you don't know what kind of roof shingle you currently have we can have the granules tested for the presents of metals. If metals are detected in your shingles a seamless steel rain gutter is recommended. If you don't want to go to the expense of the test for peace of mind go with steel. Aluminum rain gutter systems are only recommended for houses without algae and stain resistant shingles.

Something else to consider is that if you currently have steel gutters and your desire is to switch to aluminum, keep in mind that you will more than likely need to add downspouts to properly drain off your new aluminum rain gutters. Aluminum being a lighter metal cannot bear the weight of water run off as well as steel gutter. The code for steel gutter is one downspout for every 50' of gutter, for aluminum it's one downspout for every 30' of gutter. If your desire is to avoid the extra cost of steel bear in mind you will likely incur extra costs if more downspouts are needed to drain off your rain gutters. We will be more than happy to give you a price for either so you can compare. One thing more to consider if you currently have steel rain gutters you may or may not be bothered by the drip of water falling down one or more of your downspouts after a rain or after the dew of the morning. This does not occur with aluminum downspouts.

However, I have been informed on many occasions by clients that the aluminum gutters howl in the wind and that the aluminum downspouts are rather loud with the rush of water. I actually had a customer contact me, after having experienced his first rainy season with his new aluminum rain gutters, and inquire what he might do to quiet the noise. He hadn't experienced this with his old steel rain gutters. I informed him that short of replacing his new aluminum gutters with steel rain gutters there was not much I could do for him. He actually considered it for a moment. These conditions, "galvanic corrosion" and the "noise factor" are rare occurrences but should be given weight. It is not my wish to give undo concern, only to lay out the facts to help make a decision.

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