The damage to gutters associated with debris buildup such as pooling water, standing water and overflowing gutters doesn’t just impact a gutter system’s ability to function. Gutters, excluding ones made of copper, are subject to rusting or corroding once moisture and oxygen react with metals like aluminum and steel. It’s not just about appearance; corrosion is a sign that the metal is deteriorating, and the gutters will be susceptible to leaks and other types of breakage.
Scrapes and Scratches
Whether you intend to install the gutter system yourself, or you’re hiring a gutter professional, gutters must be transported and handled with care. Any scrapes or scratches, no matter how small, can contribute to future corrosion by creating a place for moisture to collect.
A good contractor will make certain that the gutters are handled in a way to minimize bumps and scrapes. He or she will also ensure any hardware is properly attached to gutter sections and downspouts. If not installed correctly, brackets, screws, and fasteners can penetrate the surface of the gutter or downpipe section, causing damage to the protective finish which might speed up the rusting process.
To avoid galvanic corrosion, the process where one metal interacts with another, a professional gutter installer will also make sure that all parts of the gutter system are manufactured from the same type of material (aluminum brackets paired with aluminum gutter sections).
The method you use when cleaning gutters can be harmful to your gutter system. For example, using a power washer on aluminum gutters might dent them. Any cleaning tools such as scrapers and brushes should be blunt-edged and soft-bristled. Cleaning solutions containing solvents, ammonia or abrasive granules can remove or weaken the gutters’ protective coating. Even the simple act of leaning a ladder against a gutter system made of metal can dent or scratch the surface.
Because gutters are exposed to the elements, it’s important to understand the role environmental impact has on gutter corrosion. Is your property close to the ocean? Is there a factory where nearby? Factors like commercial activity and sea air dictate the amount of acidity or alkalinity in the water that falls on and into your gutters.
Preventing Gutter Corrosion
While preventing gutter corrosion might seem like tilting at windmills, the best prevention starts with gutters that are manufactured from quality materials and are installed correctly. Reducing environmental impact can be managed with scheduled cleanings and careful gutter cleaning methods.