Rain gutter can be constructed from a variety of materials, including galvanised steel, painted steel, copper, painted aluminium (also known as Seamless Aluminium), PVC (and other plastics), concrete, stone and wood.
Water collected by a rain gutter is fed, usually via a downspout, into a collection system. A collection system can be either a rainwater tank, a storm water main, or a sewer main (depending upon local codes). In some locations where collection to a main is not feasible, the water is dispersed into a storm water pit or cistern.
Different styles of gutter are available to suit the design of the roof and house. Exterior rain gutter is available in a variety of profiles to suit the appearance of the building. Exterior rain gutter is fixed to the fascia board, which in turn is fixed to the ends of the rafters. A fascia gutter incorporates a rain gutter with a fascia. Box gutter is a deep gutter which is concealed within the structure of the roof. A box gutter is usually applied when the rainwater is to be collected from points within the boundary walls of the building. Water collected by a box gutter is fed to the downpipe via a rainhead.
One of the most popular forms of rain gutter is "Seamless". This is a method by which long lengths of gutter can be made on site and therefore avoiding seaming of sectional gutters. Seamless gutters are available in a variety of metals, shapes, sizes, and finishes.
Rain gutters can be equipped with gutter screens, louvres or solid hoods to allow water from the roof to flow through, but block leaves and other debris from entering and building up in the gutter.
Rain gutters can have their drains directed to rain collection systems that allows the saving of the rain water for use later, or into an underground pipe system the leads to the street or other collection areas.
A possible origin of the word "gutter" can be traced to the latin word gutta, which means drop or droplet.
Clogged gutters can cause water leakage into the house as the water backs up. Clogged gutters can also lead to stagnant water build up which allows mosquitoes to breed and also allow grasses and weeds to grow in the gutter. However, there are many different gutter leaf guards, or trays to keep leaves out of your gutters. Be careful though not all of them work. Check with your gutter installer for the truth about leaf guards.
Gutters in colder climates also suffer the effects of freezing. However this can be mitigated through the use of heating cables placed in the trays that become activated in freezing weather.