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Gutters are part of your home's drainage system. These are the long channels that hang from your eaves, connect to your downspouts and aid in moving rain water and melting snow away from your dwelling. Gutters are usually made of aluminum, but can also be made of copper, galvanized steel, wood or PVC (plastic).
Without gutters, rain water simply accumulates at the lowest point, which is usually near your home's foundation. If you have a gabled roof, as many houses do, the rain running off of the roof will eventually form a rut where it hits the ground. This can compromise your foundation and allow water to seep into your basement and walls.
Gutters need to be cleaned at least annually to be effective. Clogged gutters can lead to water overflowing and backing up under the eaves, as well as be a breeding ground for mosquitoes and a convenient home for weeds and saplings. Clogged gutters can also exacerbate winter ice dams, another cause of water leaking in a home.