Gutters and Downspouts 101

What are Gutters and Downspouts? [5" and 6" Gutters]
One of the most overlooked systems on the exterior of a home is the rain carrier system consisting of gutters and downspouts.  Gutters and downspouts are very important to every home because they are what catch the rain coming off the roof and direct all the water away from your  house.  If your house is not equipped with the proper rain carrier system, then water would be able to run freely down the side of your house, splash debris onto your siding, damage and crack your foundation, and erode your landscaping.  Gutters hang on the edge of your roof where water would drain.  They are slightly pitched to whichever side a downspout is to be installed.  Proper pitching ensures maximum water flow during precipitation.  There can be more than one downspout within a single gutter run.  The downspout is typically installed at the end of the gutter for performance and aesthetics. Downspouts are then ran from the gutter all the way to the finished grade into either a drain tile or onto the landscaping.  Drain tiles offer better performance because they direct the water farther away from the house without damming up and do not erode the landscaping.  Downspout extensions can also be installed at the last elbow to help redirect water away from the house.  It is very important to make sure both the gutters and downspouts are installed and working properly on your house, garage, or out building.

Types of Gutters and Downspouts.
There are several types of gutters and downspouts that can be installed on your home.  Today, the most popular type of gutter is a seamless gutter.  These start out as a large coil of aluminum that then get ran through a custom gutter machine.  The installer first measures the length of the gutter run, then makes the one piece gutter with the machine to the exact length.  If it is a really long run, it may take more than one person to put it up. Seamless gutters are ideal because there are no seams! This eliminates the chances of leaks or debris building up inside, and looks very clean.  Gutters come in either 5″ or 6″ sizes.  The bigger the gutter, the more water that can flow.   There are also copper gutters, galvanized steel gutters, and vinyl gutters.  Copper gutters are the most expensive, but add a nice custom touch to the home.  Galvanized steel gutters can commonly be found on commercial applications.  Vinyl gutters are nice because they are cheap, but do not come in seamless so they are prone to leaks.

Downspouts come in several different types also.  Most commonly there are 2″x3″ and 3″x4″ aluminum downspouts.  Again the larger the downspout, the more water that they can flow.  Colors are plentiful to match or compliment your home.

Leaf Protection
Leaf protection is always forgotten about until it rains and you notice your gutters are overflowing with water and your downspouts are clogged! Going on your roof to clean your gutters in the middle of a storm is NOT the best idea.  If you have any trees next to your house, or even nearby, then it is wise to have leaf protection on your rain carrier system.  Everyone knows that leaves don’t fall directly down to the ground always.  They have a tendency to blow around, especially in a storm, and find your gutters and downspouts quite conveniently.  When sticks, needles, leaves, or other foreign objects find your rain carrier system, they seem to make that home for quite a while.  Whenever a little blockage occurs in downspouts or gutters, it only gets worse over time.  Having a leaf protection system will ensure you never have to worry about cleaning your gutters again.  Contact your local gutter installer to see which leaf protection system would work best for your house.  Most leaf protectors can be retro-fitted to your existing gutters.  But if you have existing leaks or problems with your gutters and downspouts, it may be best to see if you need a whole new rain carrier system consisting of gutters, downspouts, and leaf protection.

Call Classic Gutter Co., Inc., at (708) 450-9666 for more information and installation regarding any of your rain carrier system needs.

How to Repair Leaking Rain Gutters

Rain gutters are a very important system to your home.  They carry rain off of your roof and direct it away from your house, foundation, and landscaping.  Gutters that leak can be a real hassle.  Leaking gutters can cause discoloration to your house because the water is running down the side of your house.  They can also be the source of water leaks inside of your house too.  Landscaping can also be harmed by leaking gutters and debris can be splashed back onto the side of your house.  All of these situations are less than ideal.


[Gutter Leaks]

Gutter Leaks

•What causes your gutters to leak?  Leaking gutters are only noticed during a heavy rain.  In order to pinpoint where the leak is originating from, you must pay attention during the rain storm to see exactly where the water is escaping your gutter system.  Once you find that, you will have a starting point to work from.  Pay attention:
•Is the water overflowing over the top of your gutters?
•Is it dripping behind the gutters on the fascia?
•Or is it dripping on the bottom of the gutter?

Once the rain stops and everything is nice and dry, get your ladder out and start observing your entire gutter and downspouts.  Check to make sure everything looks nice and straight and secure.  If you have any gutters that are hanging freely or are damaged, then they will need further investigation by a professional.  That may require new hangers to be installed to securely fasten the gutter properly.  Be cautious because the gutters need to be pitched correctly.  Next, if the water was overflowing the tops of your gutters, then most likely you have a blockage in your system somewhere.  Check all of the gutter runs and downspouts and clear out any debris by hand, then run the hose down the system.  Check again to see if the water is flowing properly.  If the water is still damming up and overflowing the tops of your gutters, then the gutter is not pitched correctly.  Call a professional to have it re-pitched.  Keep flowing the water with your garden hose to continue to check for leaks.  If it is leaking behind the gutter on the fascia board, then there is probably a hole in the system or the gutter sealant is not sealing anymore.  It may be necessary to reseal any miters or seams in the system.  This is why seamless systems are preferred because they virtually eliminate leaks.  If the gutters are leaking on the bottom of the gutter, then you either have a leak in the gutter sealer or the gutter itself is punctured and damaged.  Some leaks can be fixed by adding more gutter sealant, but that is usually only a temporary fix.  It may be necessary to replace your gutters.

•For any of your professional gutter needs, call Classic Gutter @ (708) 450-9666 and you will receive a free evaluation on your rain carrying system.

Do I need Attic Ventilation?

Attic Ventilation has never been more important. Over the past decades, construction technologies and practices have impr [Roof and Soffit Vents] oved greatly resulting in more air tight homes which saves energy.  But this has created new issues with the importance of adequate attic ventilation.

•Why do I need to vent my attic?
Venting your attic is very important for several reasons.  Not venting your attic properly can result in moisture damage, mold buildup, and poor air quality. Without consistent air flow in your attic, moisture will linger and begin to rot the wood which can result in roof damage. Check inside your attic for mold stains and rusty nails.  If you find this, then you need to look further into improving your attic ventilation performance.

•Did you know that proper attic ventilation will reduce your energy costs dramatically?
In the summer time, it is obvious that the highest level of your house is the warmest and requires more effort to keep cool.  The first thing you should look at to improve cooling performance is the efficiency of your attic ventilation.  When the sun heats up your roof, the attic heats up just as quickly, unless you have adequate air flow to exhaust all of that hot air out of your attic.  The insulation between your attic and living quarters will provide enough barrier to keep things cool.  That is if you are flowing enough air through your attic.

•How do I know if I have proper attic ventilation?
Ventilation is a system of intake and exhaust. Air follows the path of least resistance.  Make sure your home has one consistent type of ventilation system.  If there are multiple systems, then the strongest system will rob the performance of the others, making the system not work properly.  The easiest way to check if you have proper attic ventilation is to first check to see how many vents you have in your soffit.  Ideally you want a 2 to 1 Ratio of intake to exhaust.  This means you want the intake to be able to flow twice as much air as the exhaust.  This allows for best performance in any weather situation.

•How do I tell if my soffit and roof vents are weather tight?
Some ridge vents without external baffles have been known to leak.  The wind blows up your roof into the ridge, forcing the water down the vent.  That is the opposite of how you want your roofing system to work.  Take a visual on all of your roof vents whether they are ridge vents or mushroom or static vents to see if it looks like they may be allowing precipitation in your attic.  Look for deformed vents, missing shingles, or missing baffles.  Check your soffits for leaks by making sure that they are securely fastened.  They should not sag or be easily moved.  Remember they can endure some strong wind driven rain and you don’t want them to allow rain in!

•What types of roof vents are the best for attic ventilation?
They are 2 basic types of roof vents.  The most common which is typically cheaper, but doesn’t look as ideal and doesn’t perform as well are mushroom, or static, vents.  However, for large roofs, they may be required for added ventilation capabilities.  Another vent type is ridge vents. They span all they way across the peak of your roof, allowing for maximum air flow.  They are almost invisible from the street as they blend right in with your roofing system. Ridge vents may not always be feasible so be sure to ask your professional. Powered attic vents may also be required.

•Did you know that the snow on your roof should not melt during the winter?
So many people don’t realize that when it snows, you want the snow to stay on your roof!  If it melts, then you have attic ventilation or insulation problems.  With a properly vented attic that flows a lot of air, you will have snow on your roof all winter long.  This is because the attic is the same temperature as the outside. If your attic isn’t insulated properly, then you can lose heat from your home, which in turn heats up the attic, melting the snow.  This is the #1 reason why so many people have ice build up on their roofs and gutters!

•For any additional question about attic ventilation and insulation, please call Classic Gutter Co. at (708) 450-9666, your complete home improvements contractor.

What Size Gutters do I need?

•5″ Seamless Gutters

[5" K Style Gutter]

5" K Style Gutter

This is the most common size gutter used on residential homes. Of course seamless 5″ gutters are ideal for both appearance and performance.  There are several different styles of 5″ gutters, but the 5″ K style looks the best, is easy to install, and is durable.  They are secured to the house using hidden brackets that fastens to the fascia for added strength. There are 2 common sizes for gutter material thickness, standard .027″ gauge and heavy duty .032″ gauge.  Be sure to select a contractor that only uses heavy .032″ gauge aluminum because they are stronger and will hold up much longer. Standard 2″X3″ downspouts can be used with the 5″ gutters.  Oversized 3″X4″ downspouts can also be used with 5″ gutters for certain applications to flow more water.  Be sure to ask your contractor what they recommend for your house!

•6″ Seamless Gutters
6″ seamless gutters are becoming ever so popular today because homeowners are realizing the importance of properly working rain carrier systems. 6″ gutters are commonly found on commercial applications and are ideal for homes with large surface area roofs.  The 6″ seamless gutters are the same style as the 5″, K Style, but flow much more water.  They are larger in appearance, but not truly noticeable to the average person viewing from the street.  The performance however is very noticeable! The oversized 3″X4″ downspouts must be used with the 6″ gutters.

•Do you need 5″ Gutters or 6″ Gutters?
Most homes can be satisfied with 5″ gutters.  Houses with larger roofs may require 6″ gutters because they flow more water.  5″ gutters and 6″ gutters can both be used together for different areas.  Certain roof sections with different slopes, peaks, and valleys may require the 6″ gutters, and the rest of the house can utilize only 5″ gutters.  Using both 5″ gutters and 6″ gutters together does take design planning to make sure everything visually flows well and works well together. Using 6″ gutters with oversized 3″X4″ downspouts will flow twice as much water as a 5″ gutter system! Your gutter contractor can help you design the perfect rain carrying system.

•Do you need standard downspouts or oversized downspouts?
Standard 2″X3″ downspouts are the most common, however oversized 3″X4″ downspouts are becoming the new standard. The difference, other than the larger appearance, is that oversized 3″X4″ downspouts flow more water.  If you experience water overflowing with your current gutter and downspout system, then you need to reevaluate and possibly upgrade to a larger system.

•What you should look for when getting estimates on gutters and downspouts.
If you are in the market for a new rain carrier system, then there are a few things you should look for when receiving estimates.  Make sure they are specifying seamless aluminum gutters with heavy duty .032″ gauge aluminum.  Look for heavy duty hidden gutter brackets that are spaced closer together.  The more brackets used, the stronger the gutter system will be secured to your home. Does the contractor offer you the full list of colors? Make sure you discuss which colors will look best on your home.  How are they strapping the downspouts? It is important to know that the downspouts will be securely fastened with hidden mount straps for both appearance and durability.

•For more information on which size gutters and downspouts would best suit your needs, call Classic Gutter Co. at (708) 450-9666, your complete home improvement experts.

How to Clean Vinyl Siding

Cleaning Vinyl Siding
Cleaning the vinyl siding on your house is a task that should be completed once or twice a year. It typically only requires a few hours of your day to complete.  It can be simply cleaned with just the garden house and maybe a brush to scrub off some stubborn dirt.  If you put off cleaning your siding year after year, it may eventually stain.  Keeping your siding looking like new may be easier than you think.

How can I tell if I need to clean my siding?
Real simple, does your siding look dirty?  If so, then its time to clean it. If it doesn’t look dirty, then go up to it and inspect for dirt and grime that you may not be able to see from a distance.  Your siding typically gets the dirtiest towards ground level because rain can splash back up onto it.  Other areas that might get dirty are sides of your house that are subject to high winds or near large bushes and trees.

How do I clean my vinyl siding?
Most commonly the easiest way to clean your siding is with a garden hose and a telescoping brush. First make sure all of our windows and doors are closed before washing your siding.  Next make sure any landscaping items that you don’t want damaged are moved out of the way to give yourself plenty of room to work.  Then just spray down a section of the siding, scrub, then rinse!  It’s best to work from the top to bottom.  If you encounter stubborn dirt, it may require some glass cleaner or multi-surface cleaner.  Vinegar is also a nice alternative as it is not harmful to the siding.  You do not want to use any harsh chemicals on the siding because it can damage and discolor the siding.  Then you would be replacing siding instead of just washing it!  Make sure you work in only small sections at a time.  This allows you to keep track of what you have cleaned, and prevents dirt from re-drying back onto the siding. Thoroughly rinsing the washed sections is key.

Can I power wash my vinyl siding?
Absolutely you can power wash your vinyl siding.  In fact, this seems to do the best job.  There are some things to keep in mind when power washing your vinyl siding though.  Use the broadest nozzle tip you can to prevent “etching” in the vinyl.  Keep the wand a safe enough distance away from the siding to prevent damage.  Try not to power wash aiming the wand up vertically against the siding as water can sneak back behind the siding.  This may cause some water leaks in your house that you do not need. Working your way from the top to the bottom, aiming the wand downwards, is the best technique when power washing siding.

Can I use chemicals to clean my siding?
The only “chemicals” we recommend using on your siding are traditional glass cleaners, multi-surface cleaners, vinegar, laundry detergent, and bleach. Mix about 1/3 cup of laundry detergent with 32 ounces of bleach in with 1 gallon of water to tackle the dirtiest of your siding.  Be sure to rinse the areas you are working on immediately to prevent further staining.  Remember the more chemicals you use, the more of a chance you have of damaging your siding.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact us!

For any additonal comments or questions, please call Classic Gutter Co. at (708) 450-9666, your complete home improvement specialists.

Hail Damage Insurance Claims

•When will insurance pay to fix the hail damage on your home?
Getting your insurance to pay for hail damage on your home is very important to save you money.  Getting the most out of your claim requires some strategic planning.  Contacting your insurance agent, getting quotes from local, reputable contractors, and being persistent will ensure your home gets repaired under your policy. The insurance adjuster will be the person to determine if and how much of the hail damage will be repaired under insurance.

•First, inspect your home.
If you feel your home’s siding, roof, or gutters and downspouts, have been damaged by hail, then you need to thoroughly inspect your home.  First, take a look at where the downspouts dump rain water onto the ground. If you notice a large amount of shingle material that looks like sand but is the color of your roof, then you may have some hail damage on your roof.  Take a visual of your roof and look for broken off shingles.  Next check your gutters for golf ball size dents and dings.  Be sure the downspouts are all fastened securely still.  Look on the front side of your gutters as well as inside at the bottom of the gutters for dents. Check your siding for dents and dings also.  Aluminum siding will show the most signs of hail damage.  You will notice the same size dents and dings on your siding as on your gutters and downspouts.  These are all signs that your house has been a victim of hail damage.

•Call a local, professional contractor.
The best thing to do if you suspect hail damage is to contact your local, professional contractor, such as Classic Gutter Company, Inc. at (708) 450-9666.  A professional will go over your entire house to determine what has been damaged by hail, and what needs to be replaced.  They can provide a formal estimate on how much it will cost to repair and replace the damaged items.

•Contact your home owner’s insurance agent.
After you have inspected your home, had a professional inspect your home and provide a written estimate, contact your insurance agent to start a claim.  Most claims will cover the full amount for the hail damage on your home whether it is roofing, siding, gutters, and downspouts.  The insurance adjuster may require to see your home in person to also give an estimate on how much of the damage will be covered and for how much.

•Get a few estimates.
It is always best, no matter what type of project or trade, to get multiple estimates on the repairs for your home.  This helps you get a fair price, allows you to choose the best, most qualified professional, and saves you money in the end.  We always recommend contacting a locally owned and operated company to conduct work.  The “storm chasers” or “fly by night” companies are in it ONLY for the money.  Those types of people usually do a poor job, collect the money, and are never heard from again.  If you ever have a warranty claim on your recent work, then you may be out of luck.  Check to see how long a company has been in business.  If they have been in business only a few years, there is a good chance they probably won’t be in business in another few years.

Classic Gutter Company, Inc. has been in business for 33 years.  Call us at (708) 450-9666 for more information regarding roof hail damage, hail damage repair, hail damaged shingles, or general hail storm damage.

Energy Saving Tips

How do you save energy in your house?
Saving energy has never been so important.  Energy costs are higher than ever and continue to increase.  That is why it is important to learn how to make your house as efficient as possible. Components that help make your house efficient include, light bulbs, general electricity consumption, water consumption, heating & cooling, windows & doors, siding, roofs, and attic insulation. Being conscious of all of these items will greatly reduce energy costs in your home.

Energy Efficiency

•How do you save on electricity costs?
Electricity usage may be the largest cost of utility bills for many people.  Reducing, or eliminating, the usage of grid electricity can save you hundreds of dollars each year. Changing your incandescent light bulbs for fluorescent or LEDs will save you between 75% to 90% just on lighting costs! It is more important to reduce the usage of any electric motors as they draw the most power.  These include your air conditioner, furnace, refrigerators, and freezers.  Keep you thermostat higher in the summer and lower in the winter.  This will reduce the time your A/C and furnace run.  If you aren’t using an electronic device such as a cell phone charger, then unplug it because they still draw power even though your device isn’t plugged in! Be conscious about turning lights off every time you leave a room.  You’ll be surprised how much extra energy you use when you aren’t in there. Don’t leave the water running when you aren’t using it and consider taking shorter showers.  This will help reduce water consumption and costs.

•How do you save energy with windows and doors?
Replacing your windows and doors with new are one of the best ways to start saving on energy costs.  Replacement windows and doors are much more efficient because they are virtually air tight, well insulated, and require less maintenance.  This will help reduce the usage of your A/C and furnace because your home is better insulated.  Call a professional such as Classic Gutter Co., Inc. for a free estimate to see how much energy is going out your windows and doors!

•How do you save energy with siding, roofs, and insulation?
A lot of your heating and cooling energy can be lost through your siding, roof, and attic because they are poorly insulated.  Newer homes are being sided with insulated siding that greatly reduces energy costs.  If you have an older home, it may be wise to consider residing your home with premium insulated siding that is low maintenance and very energy efficient. Insulating your attic is also a crucial component to energy efficiency.  Attic insulation creates a barrier from the outdoor temperature in both the winter and summer.  Inspect your attic for sufficient insulation.  The more the insulation, the more efficient your attic will perform.  Call a professional for a free inspection and estimate.

If you have any questions, comments, or would like to receive a free estimate on energy saving components, please call Classic Gutter Co., Inc. at (708) 450-9666 today!

Home Improvement Safety Tips

Whether you hire a professional or perform work yourself, it is extremely important to work safely and know the dangers when working on your house. Almost all accidents that occur on job sites are preventable. Taking time to dress appropriately, prepare materials, setup equipment, use tools and materials correctly, and clean up are all crucial.  If you are a homeowner who choose to hire a professional to perform work on your house, these tips will help make sure you know what to look for in terms of safety to ensure no accidents occur at your job site.

•Proper Work Attire
Many accidents can be prevented by wearing the proper work attire.  It is always recommended to wear long pants, long sleeves, work boots, safety glasses, and even a hard hat when working overhead.  Be sure you are comfortable in your attire. If you are not comfortable when working, you may use different body movements that you are not used to and cause an accident. When working on possible lead or asbestos exposure jobs, be sure you follow all safety requirements that require you to wear Tyvek suits, booties, and hats.

•Material Preparation
No matter what trade, there are materials to be used to perform work.  Setting up materials on the job site should be out of the way of the work area and should always be organized.  Choose a dedicated area that is out of the way of foot traffic, gives you plenty of room to setup material, and is easy to clean up.  This will also help prevent accidents that may damage your materials from inadvertent actions that may occur from others.

•Setup Equipment and Tools Safely
Setting up equipment incorrectly and using tools carelessly are where most accidents happen.  Take the extra time to put up your ladder safely, making sure the legs correctly set.  Read and follow all safety warnings on your equipment and tools; they are there for a reason! If you are using power tools, always use caution for yourself and surroundings.  Make sure you are using power cords that are in correct working condition without any exposed wires. Be courteous of the job site and be sure not to damage the property.  This is achieved by simply taking your time to perform any work. When working, make sure there are not any bystanders that may be injured by being to close to your work area.  It may be necessary to post signs, place cones, and verbally alert anyone that may be near the job site.

•Job Site Cleanup
Do not forget that even though the job may be complete, you still need to clean up safely.  This includes taking down ladders, scaffolds, equipment, and tools.  Take your time to inspect the job site for dropped materials, tools, and debris.  It is obvious when someone takes the extra time to clean up the job site thoroughly.  Not only is it safer, but makes the job look that much better. You should always leave the job site cleaner than when you started.

If you have any questions, comments, or would like to receive a free estimate on any home improvements, please call Classic Gutter Co., Inc. at (708) 450-9666 today!

Ladder Safety

Many work site injuries are caused by accidents involving ladders that are not placed or used safely. Following these safety guidelines can help prevent ladder accidents.

Before using any ladder, check its condition. Make sure there are no broken, cracked, or missing rails and that rungs are not slippery from grease or oil. Check for damage or corrosion on metal ladders. If a ladder is in poor condition, don’t use it. Report the problem so it can be tagged and repaired. A competent person should periodically inspect all ladders and remove damaged ladders from use until they are repaired.

When choosing and using a ladder, keep the following in mind:

Choose the appropriate type and size ladder for the job, including correct fittings, and safety feet.
Near electrical conductors or equipment, use only ladders with non-conductive side rails.
Set the ladder on solid footing, against a solid support.
Place the base of a straight ladder out away from the wall or edge of the upper level about one foot for every four feet of vertical height.
Be sure straight ladders are long enough so that the side rails extend above the top support point by at least 36 inches.
Single cleat job-made ladders should be 15 to 20 inches wide with ladder cleats uniformly spaced 12 inches apart.
Never try to increase the height of a ladder by standing it on other objects, such as boxes or barrels, or by splicing two ladders together.
Portable ladders should be tied, blocked or otherwise secured against movement.
Keep ladders away from doorways or walkways, unless they can be protected by barriers.
Keep the area around the top and base of the ladder clear. Don’t run hoses, extension cords, or ropes on a ladder; these may create obstructions.
To avoid slipping on a ladder, check your shoes for oil, grease, or mud and wipe it off before climbing.
Climb the ladder carefully, facing it and using both hands. Use a tool belt or hand line to carry materials.
Most ladders are designed to hold only one person at a time. Two persons may cause the ladder to fail or be thrown off balance.
Don’t lean out to the side when you’re on a ladder. If something is out of reach, get down and move the ladder.
Ladders should never be used sideways as platforms, runways or scaffolds.

Rain Barrels

Rain barrels provide you with fresh rain water that can be used to irrigate plants around your house.  This is ideal because you are using clean fresh water, saving energy by not using city water or well water, and managing your gutter system better. Using rain barrels will add to the look of your home and promote green living!

How Do Rain Barrels Work?
Rain barrels are used in conjunction with your gutter system.  They sit directly below a downspout that is usually piped in with a diverter.  A diverter allows you to select where the rain gets carried to; either into the rain barrel or your regular gutter system. When directing the flow of water into the rain barrel, you are capturing fresh, clean rain water that has not been contaminated by the ground.  You are also not using any energy to collect this water!  A typical 55 gallon rain barrel is used.  You can use as many rain barrels as you have room for at your house.  Once the barrel fills up, you will have maximum pressure at the water spicket on the barrel.  Then you simply hookup your garden hose to it, and start irrigating your plants.

Why should I buy a rain barrel?
You can save a substantial amount of energy costs if you use a rain barrel regularly.  The more plants and rain barrels you have, the more you will save.  Rain barrels are great because they require minimal maintenance and cost nothing to operate to collect water.  Whether you live on city water or have a well, imagine paying nothing in energy costs to water your plants!  Keep in mind it does have to rain for the rain barrels to work.

Rain barrels help reduce energy usage, water runoff waste, and allow you to hold onto water during droughts.  If it rains a total of 1 inch, then for a 1000 square foot house, you could potentially collect up to 621 gallons of water!  It does not take much rain to fill up a 55 gallon rain barrel.

If you have any questions or comments about rain barrels, call Classic Gutter Company, Inc. at (708) 450-9666 today!