Rain gutters last as long as they can on the side of your house. Their lifespan greatly depends on the type of rain gutters you have installed, who installed them, the weather conditions where you live, and how you maintain them.
Each material comes with its pros and cons in terms of price, durability, and aesthetics. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of each gutter type.
Vinyl Gutters Life Expectancy: 10 years
Vinyl gutters are the cheapest on the market. You can get vinyl gutters in a broad array of colors or easily paint them to match your house better.
These rain gutters are an excellent option for those looking to give their house a fresh look without breaking the bank. The materials used to make this gutter are much lighter than other materials, making them easier to install.
Do you need a gutter option that will last? Vinyl gutters aren’t as hearty as their metal counterparts. Their material may be lighter but is more susceptible to physical damage, especially damage resulting from the impact of other objects.
Aluminum Gutters Life Expectancy: 20 years
The majority of homes in the United States feature aluminum gutters. Although far from being the perfect material to make gutters from, aluminum gives you the most value for the price.
Aluminum is lightweight and reasonably durable. These qualities make it an attractive option for home construction. When exposed to oxygen, aluminum will form aluminum oxide, a stiff and flakey material that will coat any exposed metal.
Aluminum oxide doesn’t deteriorate the same way iron oxide does. When iron oxide decomposes, it exposes more layers of iron to rust and deterioration. The chemical properties of aluminum make it an excellent material for exterior structures.
Aluminum’s light and flexible structure may make it an excellent option for your home’s exterior, but there are downsides. Aluminum tends to bend easier than sturdier metals. These gutters may be more resistant to impact than vinyl gutters, but they can still bend, bow and break under enough stress.
Galvanized Steel Gutters Life Expectancy: 20 years
Steel is a classic material when strength is preferred. Manufacturers make steel gutters for punishment. If you don’t like how fragile other building materials seem, steel is an excellent choice.
Gutters made from steel don’t dent, bend, or break as easily as other materials. Steel can also hold up better at the seams. After years of use, aluminum and vinyl gutters may leak from connecting sections. As steel is much more durable than aluminum and vinyl over the same time, it is much less likely to be leaky or need repair.
Unlike other materials, galvanized steel gutters are susceptible to rust, a metallic cancer that can cause leaks and further structural damage. Zinc, a metal impervious to rusting, coats galvanized steel, strengthening it against the elements. When that layer is damaged or scratched, the exposed steel is in danger of rusting away.
Copper Gutters Life Expectancy: 50 years
The best material you can get for your roof is copper.
The best of both worlds come together in copper gutters, the strength to withstand forceful impacts, and the longevity of a product that doesn’t rust away. Copper gutters will last an estimated 50 plus years! That is twice as long as any other material!
Like aluminum, copper doesn’t rust the same way iron does, with metal layers constantly eroding and exposing new layers to rust. Copper forms a resilient oxidized layer that won’t flake away to reveal underlying layers.
Upgrading your home to copper may break the bank. The investment will long outlast other upgrades to your house, such as new shingles, but the investment comes at a much higher cost than purchasing gutters made from inferior materials.
Though copper makes the best material for gutters, second-rate materials like galvanized steel and aluminum are adequate even if they don’t compare to copper’s longevity.
Reasons Your Gutter May Wear Out
Our climate can inflict vast amounts of damage to your gutters. Every gust of wind and impact from debris will wear down your gutters. Ignorant negligence or small creatures may also impose structural harm.
There are several circumstances where consistent exposure may wear out your gutters quicker.
Those who do not regularly work with gutters may not realize how much their day-to-day activities affect wear. Improperly placing equipment against your gutters or adding any sort of weight to them is likely to put stress on the gutter hangers.
Avoid leaning ladders or hanging lights, bird feeders, or other objects from your gutters.
The most significant amount of wear will come from the forces of nature. High winds, ice or snowstorms, leaves and sticks, and shingle materials can all pull at and weigh down your gutters.
If you notice spots in your gutter where water pools or the gutter is pulling away from the house, address these issues quickly and restore your gutters so that water flows naturally out through a drainage system.
Procrastinating these small things will compound into far more significant problems.
Although a bird’s nest may make a pleasing addition to your house, the extra weight could also decrease your gutters’ lifespan.
Other critters, such as possums or raccoons, can damage the physical structure of your gutters by climbing and hanging from them.
As the saying goes: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
How to Help Your Gutters
Gutters play an essential role in protecting the foundation of your home. Preserving them is of the utmost importance for the longevity of your home.
Gutters protect your foundation and also protect the plants and landscaping next to your house. If left unchecked, a faulty gutter system can erode the soil and kill your plants.
Inspect and clean your gutters regularly, especially after the winter snows have cleared.
If you want professionals to take a look, we at M&M Gutters & Exteriors would be thrilled to help.