From Gargoyles To Aluminum: A History Of Rain Gutters
Rain gutters are an essential structural component in protecting your home against water damage. But where exactly did this architectural element originate?
Rain Gutters in Ancient History
The earliest forms of gutters date back to the Indus Valley civilization between 3000 BC and 1500 BC.
Constructed from bricks made out of burnt clay, these ancient gutters would serve less than modern purposes, as they were fashioned into a water-based toilet system. In ancient Egypt and Greece, gargoyles resembling a lion’s head were used to divert water from structures by acting as water spouts.
The Romans also engaged in early forms of guttering between 27 BC – 14 AD. During the Roman Empire, the Romans transformed road development through the creation of crowns, slightly higher elevation in the middle of the street, to create a runoff of water into gutters. However, the turning point in gutter history came when the Romans brought the technology to Britain in 47 AD.
Rain Gutters in the Middle Ages
The spread of the Norman Empire between the 10th and 13th centuries caused a shift in architecture with the introduction of stone roofs and parapets. Due to the changes in roof styles, gargoyles become the dominant and sole gutter system.
Rain Gutters in the 18th Century
The early 1700s, cast iron became a very plentiful and cheap material. The material quickly gained popularity and eventually replaced lead as the main metal used in gutter creation. As the century progressed, wooden gutters began to be placed on to public buildings and wealthy homes.
Due to the aesthetically pleasing nature of the wooden V-shaped gutter, combined with functionality, this style continued well into the 20th century.
Rain Gutters in the 20th Century
The 20th century showcased how to implement new technologies and materials in gutter systems. The invention of metal rolling machines led to half-round steel gutters being installed on buildings.
During the World War II era, plastic was developed and this material became the dominant ingredient for creating gutters. In the 1960s, the gutter industry was completely revolutionized by the invention of the seamless aluminum gutter machine. Stronger and lighter than other metals used to create gutters, it is no surprise that aluminum continues to be the dominant metal used in guttering today.
When in Rome, do what the Romans do and maintain your system through regular gutter cleanings. With the evolution of gutters explained, it is important to note that all of these systems have one thing in common, the ability to clog up and cease working.