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History of Rain Gutters

Nowadays, every property has rain gutters to help divert rain away from it, stopping issues where water collects on the roof or near the property’s foundations. As such, rain gutters are an essential part of your home’s drainage system. However, it’s something that we perhaps take for granted. Rain gutters didn’t always exist, and they have a rather interesting history.

The first rain gutters

Travel back in time to the period between 3000 and 1500 BC, and you’ll see the first iterations of what became known as rain gutters. While modern guttering is predominantly made of aluminum or PVC, these ones were formed using bricks of burnt clay. They were popularized in the Indus Valley civilization, but it wasn’t until the peak of the Roman Empire where rain gutters really started to become common.

The Romans & the Norman Empire

The Romans were still using a form of guttering similar to that in the Indus Valley civilization, but slightly more advanced. They took this over to Britain, where it slowly gained popularity. In truth, it wasn’t until the birth of the Norman Empire where gutters started to be a common thing in Britain. This was due to a shift in the way houses were built, with stone roofs becoming the sought-after options. 

As a result, gutter systems were developed with gargoyles on the roofs. That’s right, you thought the gargoyles were simply a style choice, but they helped drain water off the stone roofs that were popular in the 13th Century. Many speculate that, if it wasn’t for the Romans bringing the idea of gutters to Britain all those years ago, this wouldn’t have happened.

Metal rain gutters

During the Norman Empire, and the subsequent centuries, lead was the key material used in making gutters. Obviously, we now know this has some serious pros and cons. But, nobody could find anything that was affordable and better back in those days. Fast forward to the 18th Century, and cast iron suddenly became easier to obtain. As a result, rain gutters underwent a dramatic transformation, turning from lead to metal.  

Ironically, this decision didn’t last as long as people expected. Towards the end of the 18th Century, wooden gutters were popularized. So much so that they took over and stayed in fashion until the 20th Century – which wasn’t that long ago! Still, there was another twist in the tale, with metal guttering coming back into flashing during this century. Between 1900 and 1925, metal rolling machines were invented, changing the way gutters were produced. This was the first time we saw the typical half-rolled steel rain gutters that still exist on some older houses to this day.

Modern rain gutters

After this groundbreaking moment in the rain gutters world, another massive discovery was made. After WW2, people realized how useful and diverse PVC was. In turn, it became the material of choice for rain gutters around the world. While the US might not favor this material, it is seen in abundance across Britain and other European countries. 

Speaking of the US, we stumbled upon yet another crucial invention in the 1960s. Seamless aluminum rain gutter machines were created, changing the way that our gutters were produced. Now, the majority of gutters in the US are made using aluminum, which proved to be a popular material for numerous reasons. Firstly, it is incredibly strong, meaning it can withstand decades of abuse. Secondly, it’s very lightweight, making it easy to install on different properties. With the introduction of these new rain gutter machines, it made it easy to construct guttering systems at low costs. 

And that is where the history of rain gutters ends. We haven’t seen any dramatic changes in guttering design or installation since the 70s. During this decade, portable rain gutter machines were made, which let you take gutters to a site and install them there. This was different from previously, where gutters had to be made in a factory and then transported to the site. It made life more convenient for builders, but the materials and design were still the same as they’d previously been.

Of course, as the decades wound on, we learned more about gutter maintenance. It became increasingly obvious that regular gutter cleaning was essential to maintain the durability and effectiveness of rain gutter systems. As such, it’s now recommended that you clean your gutters at least twice a year. If you need assistance with this, please don’t hesitate to give Top Care Cleaning a call. As gutter cleaning experts, we’ll provide a professional job that leaves your gutters as good as new.

Learn more about our gutter cleaning service here!

Continue reading on the Top 5 reasons to clean your rain gutters.

Learn more about gutter maintenance: 

Regular gutter maintenance is vital for your home’s health, especially in tree-rich areas to prevent water damage and structural problems. Recognizing the signs of a clogged gutter, such as mold growth, sagging, or birds nesting, is crucial for timely cleaning. Moreover, keeping gutters clean helps avoid pest and animal infestations, which can cause additional damage. Understanding these aspects of gutter care is essential, as highlighted in the reasons for regular gutter cleaning.

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