Now is the time for some real gutter talk. We have been accused of always having our minds in the gutter, and we want you to join us. The primary purpose of gutters is protect your home from water damage. We know first hand the benefits of a properly installed gutter system and always been interested in when and the history of gutters and downspouts. Gutters have been used since antiquity and while the materials and construction of gutters have improved over the years, their fundamental purpose to channel and direct water has not.
Gutters were not attached to buildings until many years after their first appearance in society. The first recorded use of gutters dates back to 1500 BC when gutters were used to as an ancient toilet, directing waste away from living facilities. Advancing from there, Greeks and Egyptians used gutters to divert rainwater. Romans built their roads with an elevated center to direct the flow of water into the gutters dug alongside the road. As societies progressed, gutters became recognized as a functional way to direct water and protect structures. During the Middle Ages architectural styles changed and gargoyle statues were added to roofs. The statues were designed to collect and project water away from the buildings. The use of the gargoyles became the first attached structures designed to channel water. In the 1200s, the Tower of London added the first known downspout to their building in order to protect its white-wash finish. In Europe, gutters were becoming more common on the homes of the very wealthy and on public buildings.
In the 1700s wooded gutters were carved from logs and pieces of wood and attached to homes and other buildings with iron brackets. In order to improve effectiveness, downspouts were added. Gutters not only served an important function for property owners in the 1700s but they were also viewed as an architectural enhancement throughout the world.
As American colonist faced the challenges of establishing a new society and establishing independence, they still had to deal with the practical consequences of rain runoff, ice and snow build up on their homes and buildings. According to the Gutters and Downspouts section of the History of Roofing gutters gained their popularity in the United States with the colonists in the mid 1700s. Can you imagine colonial men in their great coats and breeches knocking the icicles from their roofs and getting a shower from the rain run off? “Built-in gutters were introduced into the American vocabulary with high-style 18th century buildings. Characterized by its integration with a cornice (either open or closed), built-in gutters preserved the architectural detail of the cornice while providing a practical solution to stormwater drainage. Historically these were boxes made of wood, the bottom of which was sloped, and, where possible, lined with metal, usually lead. As buildings grew in height and complexity in the 19th century, cast iron or tile internal downspouts or leaders were introduced to invisibly move water away from the roof and into subterranean drainage systems.”, according the History of Roofing.
During World War II, lead was needed for ammunition and supplies, and so other materials were used to construct the gutters. The materials replacing wood and lead were terne, copper, and galvanized steel, iron, and aluminum; plastic gutters were also used. By the 1960s the seamless gutter machine was introduced and transformed both the materials and fabrication of the gutters. Development of new products and installation techniques continue to advance, even though the fundamental use of gutters and downspouts has not changed.
Today, we know that the construction of the residence or commercial building, the roofline, landscape of the property, and weather conditions all influence the type of gutters needed to properly channel and direct rainwater and we have the ability to create a custom gutter and downspout system designed to fit your specific needs. Advancements in manufacturing have provided a more effective product in a variety of shapes, sizes, materials, and styles. A gutter professional can provide a thorough inspection of your home and buildings to ensure you have efficient and effective gutter system in place in order to avoid the negative and costly consequences of water damage.
To add gutters to your home for water damage protection or to have your gutter system inspected, call or schedule an appointment with the Gutterman of TN for a free gutter evaluation.