If you’ve ever stared out the window during a downpour and watched the negative influence that uncontrolled water has on your soil’s erosion, wood rot, etc., you may have wondered “should I have gutters installed?”

In this week’s column, we will look at the pros and cons of gutters and whether you should try to install them yourself or have a professional gutter company install them.

There are quite a few choices of styles and types of guttering to choose from. I see many do-it-yourselfers hauling sections of gutter in the back of their truck or strapped to the roof of their car as they head home to begin their weekend project.

This past week I saw sections of aluminum gutters extending beyond the tailgate of a pick-up truck mixed with plastic miters and elbows and wondered how those various parts would fit together when they arrived home.

Surely these folks chose the parts and pieces independently from the help available by the home improvement stores from which they were purchased.

One of the most common gutter types available to do-it-yourselfers are the plastic gutter sections with plastic miters, elbows, couplings, downspouts, installation brackets and other miscellaneous parts and pieces to complete the gutter system.

This type of gutter has many parts that are visible from the ground that can “take away” from the finished product because of the interrupted “visual flow” of the system.

The sheer number of parts to complete the installation can be overwhelming. Even when the best attention to detail is applied to the installation of all the plastic parts, it is difficult not to notice the uneven connections from the various fittings of the gutter sections.

The plastic parts expand and contract quite a bit as well during temperature extremes, and the volume of water the gutters can handle are quite limited.

Aluminum gutters are also available at home stores. Since these are sold in sections, they, too, will be assembled with couplings that are less desirable than seamless guttering. However, the “visual flow” is not quite as unsightly as the plastic version.

The fastening brackets are hidden from the ground, which is a positive. The aluminum gutter handles more water flow than its plastic counterpart.

Aluminum gutters are available in 5-inch and 6-inch gutter sizes, while downspouts are available in 2-inch by 3-inch and 3-inch by 4-inch.

The 3-inch by 4-inch downspout size is recommended over the smaller size as the smaller size is more prone to clogging with leaves and debris.

If climbing on ladders and stretching over high altitudes seem too daunting of a task for your short weekends or if you prefer the seamless gutter look, this may be a task you might prefer to consider passing on to a professional. There are several gutter installation companies in our area to choose from.

One of the biggest complaints against gutters is the task of cleaning them when they get full of leaves and pine straw.

There are many forms of gutter guards to help prevent this, also available at home improvement stores.

These consist of either plastic or aluminum sections of various designs in 3- to 4-foot lengths that you snap or click or secure with screws to the gutter. Also available in the sleeker looking design, as well as more effective design, would be the choices available from the professionals.

These would include solutions that go by the name of “K-gard” and “Clearwater,” to name two.

These types create a solid color matching aluminum “cap” that secures to the main gutter and allows water to enter through capillary action via a thin horizontal opening, the full length of the gutter.

As far as effectiveness, K-gard even has a lifetime warranty against clogging with debris.

The sizing of the gutter and the amount of downspouts needed for your specific home is determined by the pitch of the roof and the length of the gutter with the overall surface area of the roof considered.

So the next time you’re looking out your window during a downpour, you can relax with a cup of your favorite brew and know you have your water issue under control.

You may email your questions or concerns to jdn.dm@comcast.net.

JD Norris is the owner/operator of DreamMaker Bath&Kitchen and a certified S.C. Master Builder, certified “Aging in Place” Specialist and certified Green Professional.