Downpipe or downspout (leader) – The vertical pipe that drains water out of a gutter.
Diverter – An L-shaped piece of metal located at an angle on the roof of a house to divert rain runoff into a gutter.
Drip edge – Metal placed over the back of a gutter to prevent water and wet leaf debris from falling between the gutter and the fascia board that it is attached to. If water is often trapped behind a gutter, the fascia, if it is made out of wood will rot, or if made out of cement-board, will crumble over time.
Elbows (A & B) – The curved ‘knees’ usually attached to downspout to span the distance between the downspout and the bottom of a gutter and also to direct the outflow of water at the end of the downspout so that it moves away from the house.
End cap – A vertical piece of metal molded to the end profile of a gutter. End caps keep water from pouring out of the 2 ends of a gutter.
Extension tubing – A piping that is attached to the bottom elbow of a downspout to carry water away from the foundation of a structure.
Gutter – An essential component of a building that captures the water running off of a roof.
Gutter guard, helmet, cover, leaf guard – Products designed to prevent leaves from clogging gutters and downspouts. There are literally hundreds of different brands of guards on the market today.
Hanger – The bracket that, along with a screw, holds a gutter onto a structure’s fascia.
Jumper (ledge jumper, 30s) – Elbows with less than the usual 90-degree curvature.
Micro burst – An extremely intense downpour which sometimes dumps twice as much water as a hard rain might in the same period of time. Fortunately a micro burst usually only lasts 5-10-15 minutes and then dissipates, and a more normal volume of water resumes falling. Virtually no guttering system is built to handle a micro burst without overflowing because the very, very large size of the gutters needed and the oversized downpipes and the large number of them needed to handle such exceptionally heavy but short-lived rains would make such a system cost-prohibitive.
A guttering system is built to deal with the usual and prevailing amounts of water that fall and not for exceptions like micro bursts, or hurricanes. This is similar to the fact that most homes for example are not built to withstand 200 mph winds – because a home that can deal with that needs a much stronger than average foundation, much stronger walls, a much stronger roof, etc., etc., and all of this results in a major increase in the cost of such a home, putting it beyond the reach of far too many buyers. Therefore, homes are rarely built to handle worst case scenarios like this, sometimes referred to as a ‘once every 100 year storm’, or a ‘once every 500 year storm.’
Mitres – Corners of a gutter where it turns 90 degrees or 45 degrees or some other angle.
Outlet – Also called a drop, or a basket, an outlet can be rectangular, oval, round or another shape. It is a part that is screwed into the gutter and also screwed into the downspout to join them and to hold them together. Most residential gutter installations simplify the work by cutting 4 tabs into the bottom of a new gutter and then bending the tabs downward, so they can be screwed into the top of the downspout.
Return – A section of gutter (a run) that is perpendicular to a structure’s foundation walls and which ends close to the roof.
Saddle – A very seldom used custom-made part which is V-shaped and which is located over the ends of 2 separate gutters which end next to one another. The saddle diverts water from the roof into one gutter or the other, so that water does not fall between the end caps of the 2 gutters.
Spike (nails) and ferrule – A bad way of hanging gutters onto a structure that fosters gutters problems such as tilting, bowing, etc. Spike holes frequently cause water damage to the fascia and/or other parts of a building.
Splash block – A piece of heavy plastic, or cement, that slows the outflow of water from a downspout, to help prevent erosion.
Splash guard or shield – A piece of flat metal screwed vertically into the top edge of a gutter to help prevent heavy rain from overshooting a gutter and cascading onto the ground.
Strap – A metal band that holds a downspout onto a structure.
Parts of a house related to gutters and downspouts
Brick molding – A piece of vertical window trim. Windows usually have 2-brick molds, one on each side. Although called a “brick molding,” these vertical trim elements are typically made of wood and are often seen on homes with facades other than brick.
Chase – A surround typically made out of siding material (not out of brick) that encases a hot flue pipe.
Corner boards – Vertical trim elements at house corners where the siding boards terminate.
Fascia – A non-structural board that the back of a gutter rests on.
Hip roof – Roof design such that a structure has a fascia on all of its sides.
Kick out (not a kick plate which is part of a door) – A small vertical piece of metal mounted to roofing material and located just above a gutter’s end cap if the end cap terminates against a wall. The kick out is angled to divert roof runoff into a gutter and to prevent water from falling between the end cap and the wall, which, if the wall is made of Masonite for instance, will rot the siding out over time.
Shingle molding – A molding strip found directly under the bottom edge of shingles on the gable end of a structure.
Soffit – A horizontal element located under and behind the fascia and at a 90-degree angle to it. Soffits often have louvers in them to help ventilate a house.
Sub-fascia – A piece of heavy-duty lumber located directly behind the fascia and to which the fascia is attached. The sub-fascia is therefore not visible in a finished structure. If a fascia rots badly enough however, the water damage may have also have compromised or destroyed the sub-fascia as well. Typically, damage to a sub-fascia cannot be seen until both a gutter and fascia have been removed. Such damage is often termed “hidden damage” in the building industry.
Valley – The juncture of 2 sections of the roof that meet at different angles. Valleys usually collect large volumes of runoff water because they drain 2 areas of a roof. Water funneled down the center of a roof valley often builds up speed and momentum and may overshoot a gutter, unless a splash guard has been installed on the top edge of the gutter’s inside mitre.