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What is a Gutter Hanger?

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  • Written By: Michael Swartz
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 09 September 2016
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A gutter hanger is the most common method of gutter attachment to a roof drainage system. It supplies external support for both gutters and downspouts. Gutter hangers come in a variety of materials, such as aluminum, copper, steel, and vinyl. Matching colors typically are available for aluminum, steel, and vinyl, although color-matching is subjective if the hanger is hidden. Copper gutter hangers are generally unfinished since designers typically value the patina the metal eventually develops.

On older buildings, gutter hangers were generally visible since they bracketed the outside of the gutter and were nailed to either the fascia or the roof surface. The fastened portion of the hanger was usually hidden by the shingles or other surface that covered the roof deck. While this style of gutter hanger remains commonly available, it has generally fallen out of favor with designers.

Many architects prefer the clean look of a seamless gutter system. To that end, roofing designers developed hidden brackets — commonly known as K-style gutter hangers. They use a relatively similar method of fastening to the fascia with nails or screws, however some models integrate the fastener into the design. Hidden gutter hangers fasten to the gutter itself via a metal lip that secures to a corresponding lip at the front of the gutter. In some colored metal roofs, the gutter hanger is color-coordinated and visible over the top of the gutter, depending on the slope of the roof itself.

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Both hidden and visible gutter hangers typically are available for people who choose to use polyvinyl chloride (PVC) gutter and downspout materials. They are based on the same structural principles as aluminum, copper, or other metal gutter materials. Each of these items typically is available in most standard colors.

One obvious but often overlooked aspect of gutter hanger installation is making sure that the hanger is placed in a manner that promotes drainage. Gutters need to gently slope toward downspouts, otherwise water can pond at a certain point and cause the gutter hanger to fail when the fasteners come loose. A well-maintained external roof drainage system requires not just the cleaning of debris and dirt that collects in gutters or gutter screens, but also an occasional inspection of gutter hangers to make sure they are still secure and maintaining the necessary slope for water to drain toward the downspouts.

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