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Learn About the Fascinating Gutter Systems of 3 Historic Buildings

Every time it rains, the gutter system on your home quietly directs water away from your home’s walls and foundation. But did you know that gutters have been around for centuries? While gutters’ appearance may have changed over the years, their purpose has remained the same. To explore why gutters are so important, let’s look at three historical buildings’ impressive and unique gutter systems.

The White Tower (The Tower of London)

Built around 1100 AD, the White Tower was an impressive fortress used both for military defense and to hold prisoners. One of its features was lead gutters that protected the tower from water damage.

In 1240, King Henry III ordered updates on the White Tower. One of those updates was to extend the gutters. The tower had just been whitewashed, and Henry wanted to protect the walls from “perishing or falling outwards through the trickling of the rain.”

Lead gutters like those found on the White Tower aren’t as common today. Today, more common gutter materials are cast aluminum, UPVC, and zinc.

Notre Dame de Paris

The construction of Notre Dame began in 1160 under the direction of Bishop Maurice de Sully. Notre Dame’s architecture is legendary. Perhaps the most recognizable features are its impressive gargoyles.

But the gargoyles on Notre Dame and other cathedrals aren’t merely for decoration. Like modern gutters, they are used to catch rainwater and direct it away from the building.

Each gargoyle contains a trough in its back where water enters. The water then flows through the gargoyle and pours out through its spout, which is shaped as an open mouth. The longer the gargoyle, the farther it can direct water away from the building.

The Notre Dame gargoyles are shaped like monsters. But gargoyles also come in many different forms, such as lions, dragons, and even human faces. Aside from protecting the building from water damage, gargoyles purportedly protect the building by warding off evil. Many cathedrals also have grotesques, which look like gargoyles but are merely decorative.

The Crystal Palace

Built in 1851 for London’s Great Exhibition, the Crystal Palace is built of plate-glass and cast-iron. The palace’s designer, Joseph Paxton, paid a lot of attention to the palace’s gutter system. He knew that without a good gutter system, rain buildup could cause the palace’s glass roof to shatter.

To address this problem, Paxton designed what are known as Paxton gutters. In his design, rain fell into cast-iron channels at the bottom of each roof section. The water flowed to the end of each channel and landed in a larger gutter. From each gutter, the water flowed into a cast-iron pillar which also functioned as a down-pipe. Finally, the water flowed down this down-pipe into the drains.

The Crystal Palace’s gutter system is brilliant because many of its parts have dual purposes. For example, the channels support the roof’s sections as well as acting as gutters. Also, the cast-iron pillars give the building stability along with functioning as down-pipes.

Modern Gutters

Looking back at these gutters in the past can help us appreciate the role gutters continue to play for our homes. Without gutters, rainwater would run down the walls of your home. This could cause your home’s walls to rot and grow mold.

Today’s gutters work in a similar fashion to these early gutters. Rain flows down the roof and lands into your gutter. It then flows horizontally through the gutter and exits through a downpipe and into a drain.

However, gutters can’t do their job if they constantly get clogged. That’s why you should replace your gutters with gutters from the Gutter Magician. Our gutters are designed with special hoods that prevent clogging.

Call us today for superior new gutters.

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