Skip to Main Content

Speak Like A Home Improvement Pro: Common Gutter Terminology

Gutters seem pretty simple once they’re installed on your home. After all, they are just channels that direct rainwater away from your home. But there’s actually much more to know about the individual pieces that ensure your gutters function correctly to keep your home safe and dry.

When you know the terms for each piece that makes up your gutter system, it’s easier to understand the best option for your home when it’s time for gutter repair or replacement. Not to mention, you’ll experience a smoother project with your contractor or remodeler when you’re on the same page.

  • Downspout: The stretch of pipe that drains water down and away from roof gutters.
  • Drop Outlet: The portion of gutter that water travels through from the gutter troughs to the drainpipes.
  • Eaves gutter: Any gutter attached to the eave – the lower edge of a sloped roof.
  • End Cap: The form-fitting piece that is attached to the end of the gutter by crimping and sealing with silicone.
  • Elbow: Any curved section of the gutter that allows the gutter path to turn. These pieces are usually installed connecting the leader to the gutter and at the bottom of the leader to direct water away from the house.
  • Hanger: A bracket that attaches the gutter to the rafters and is not visible from the outside of the gutter.
  • Leader: Commonly known as the downspout, this section of pipe drains water from the gutter down the side of the house.
  • Leader Head: If you have a flat roof, you will likely see a leader head that catches water in place of gutters.
  • Miter: Gutters can appear seamless from the ground, but they cannot be bent to turn a corner, so a miter connects the two sections of the gutter to keep them watertight.
  • Ponding: When water pools up onto your roof, usually due to a blockage somewhere in the gutter system. If allowed to sit, this water can make its way under shingles creating roof leaks.
  • Soaker: A short stretch of gutter that is sometimes installed on the upper side of the chimney.
  • Sole: The bottom, inside portion of the gutter.
  • Spike and Ferrule: A system to hang gutters that consists of a spike, which looks like a nail, and a ferrule, a metal tube that prevents the gutter from bending where the spike is placed.
  • Splashblock: This sloped slab sits at the bottom of the leader directing water away from your home and ensuring that the soil below isn’t eroded. Double check that your splashblock is placed correctly with the wider and lower end facing away from your home.
  • Strap: The hangers that secure the downspout to the side of the house.

Now that you are familiar with the terms for your gutters, walk around your house – and get up on a ladder if you are comfortable doing so – to get a closer look and see if your gutters are in good condition. Make sure you clean out your gutters regularly, and if you notice any signs of cracks or holes, it could be time for a gutter replacement.

When it’s time to replace your gutters, schedule a no-pressure consultation with one of our gutter experts. Our consultants will take exact measurements of your home to find the best gutter solution for you, and our installers will bring machines to your home to custom fabricate the perfect sized gutters.