The gutters of your home are only one part of a standard gutter system. An optimally functioning gutter system is not complete without downpipes and elbows, mitres and end caps and some type of drainage. Knowing how each part works separately will give you a better understanding of what to look for when buying or maintaining gutters.
Gutter Section: The gutter sections that channel water from the roof to the downpipe are typically made of vinyl or some kind of metal such as aluminum, copper or steel. The shape of the gutter, also referred to as the gutter profile, controls how much water flows through the system. Popular gutter profiles include K-style and half-round gutters.
Downpipes and Elbows: The downpipe is the part of the gutter system that directs the water from the gutters sections to the ground or drain. Depending on the size of your home and the roof’s configuration, the gutter system might need more than one downspout to direct water away from the foundation. The downpipes should match the water capacity of the gutter sections. If you have wide gutters and the select a narrower-sized downspout, you will be compromising the functionality of the gutter system and limiting how it handles water capacity.
An elbow is used when the downpipe needs to be diverted around an object or change direction. It is commonly used to extend the length of the downspout so that water is deposited as far from the foundation as possible.
Mitres and End Caps: Every roof has a corner or two. The corner piece of a gutter that forms an angle of 90° is called a mitre. End caps, securely fastened and then sealed to prevent leaks, close off the outside end of a length of gutter.
Drainage: Often downpipes drain water from a gutter system into a flower bed or some type of landscaped area. When this is not an option, water from the gutters must be routed properly into some sort of storm drain to protect your home from flooding.