Before a homeowner or property manager can decide upon the purchase of a metal gutter system (or understand how prepare an existing one for a longer life) it is essential to understand the metal gutter’s natural born enemy – corrosion.
Corrosion, by definition, is the following:
“A natural process, which converts refined metal to their more stable oxide. It is the gradual destruction of materials by chemical reaction with their environment. In the most common use of the word, this means electrochemical oxidation of metal in reaction with an oxidant such as oxygen.” (Wikipedia)
Corrosion will not only impact the appearance of your gutters, the process will result in leaks, breakage, and consequently impact the system’s ability to properly funnel rainwater through to the downspouts. The result is increased potential for exterior property damage. Below we will look at scenarios that can contribute to gutter corrosion, from the more obvious ones to the seemingly mundane, all of which helping you avoid a chemical reaction that leads to the downfall of your gutters.
What Makes Metal Gutters Corrode and How to Prevent it from Occurring
This concern is relevant to homeowners (those purchasing and/or installing the system on their own) on a smaller scale, yet much more notable to property managers and developers. Once gutters are in your (or a contractor’s) possession the transport of the system must be handled with care. Any dent or scrape in-transit makes the respective metal section more susceptible to future corrosion. Ensure that once you take possession of your gutters that they are properly protected from point A to B.
Continuing from above, pre-installation storage is also an arena that can leave your gutters at the mercy of the elements, both natural and manmade. Pay close attention to the storage process. For starters, gutter sections should be stored in a flat/horizontal manner, never placed vertical or diagonal allowing gravity and a lack of balance to bend the aluminum (or steel/zinc). If the gutters are out of manufacturer cradles/packing, then layer any stacked sections with padding (cardboard if there is nothing else available), covering them at the top for added protection. Keep all hazardous chemicals used in a property construction project stored separately from your gutters.
This is one of the biggest impediments to the prevention of metal gutter corrosion. Of course simple actions such as banging or scraping of gutters when attempting a DIY installation can be avoided with close attention, but others are less obvious. For instance, when installing gutters you will need to secure them in place with fixing brackets. This is often where things begin to unravel. At the point of contact, an improperly attached bracket can penetrate the surface of the gutter and damage the coating which will speed up corrosion. If the bracket material and aluminum, copper, steel, or zinc gutters are incompatible metals galvanic or bimetallic corrosion can occur. Thus, it is extremely important that all bracket fixings and screws used in installation are completely compatible. This rule does not only apply to metal to metal contact, if your gutters will come in direct contact with roof/wall plastics, wood, or concrete you must still exercise the same level of care as these materials too can release corrosive elements that result in metal corrosion. Take note – the installation of your gutter system should comply with the statements detailed in the technical specifications provided by the gutter system manufacturer, supplier or the contractor responsible for the project. In short, have a professional gutter installation specialist manage…the installation.
Natural / Environmental Causes
There is no need to repeat the entire definition of corrosion noted at the introduction of this article, but it is worth repeating the “natural process” part. Your gutters hang from the exterior of your property and by nature become a target of the environmental elements surrounding you. Your proximity to the ocean or industrial sectors can have a big impact on the corrosion process. The varying levels of acidity or alkalinity in rainwater will dictate other unanticipated corrosive entities, all of which can expedite the chemical reaction. Unless you are a part of the region land development process at the grand genesis of the project you have little control over where your property is located. Thus, there seems to be little you can do about these natural/environmental causes. However, you can do all that you can to keep from igniting the corrosive flame. Atmospheric corrosion is more likely when your metal gutter surface is covered with deposits of dirt, chloride and sulphate deposits so simply cleaning the system on a strictly scheduled basis (weekly or monthly depending upon your climate/environment) will have a direct and positive impact.
Corrosion prevention is quite manageable in some instances (handling, storage, and even installation) yet challenging when your environment deals the most impactful hand. Your greatest ally in preventing corrosion comes from the careful selection of a premium gutter system that has been manufactured with high-quality aluminum/zinc/copper/steel and treated with a high-grade corrosive-combative coating. If your property or properties are located within the Greater Vancouver area contact WeatherGuard for gutters that not only eliminate your corrosion concerns, but back it up with a full 10-year warranty.