Q. My old victorian house has wooden gutters. They're too shallow, and clog easily. Should I replace them with aluminum or is there some better way to care for them?
- R.C., Milton, Mass.
A. Aluminum outlasts wood from a materials standpoint, but when properly installed, wooden gutters perform longer than aluminum, according to Howard Clark, a licensed construction supervisor in Hopkinton, Mass. He explains that the drawback to wood is cost; the material alone is about $7 per linear foot, about three times the cost of aluminum, and wood takes more know-how to install.
But they may be worth the expense: Wooden gutters are very strong and rigid. As gutters must tilt toward the downspouts, wood staves off the cumulative effects of heavy ice, snow, and trapped water, maintaining this proper pitch years longer than aluminum. Wood will also support the weight of a ladder while aluminum tends to bend or dent, so wooden gutters are actually easier to clean.
Never paint the insides of wooden gutters, and trim back trees so that air and sun dry them out, aiding the natural rot-resistance of the cedar.
By the sound of it, your gutters have run their course, and it's time for new ones. You may find that the wooden gutters available today are deeper than the ones you have.
I learned long ago that the answer to moths in winter woolies is cheap candles. I break off short pieces and place them randomly in our clothes and unused blankets.
- S.T.-R., South Africa
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Compiled by April Austin