Learn All the Gutter Parts That Make up Your System

Gutters are very important parts of our home. They protect our home’s roof, siding and foundation from rainwater by collecting the water and moving it away from the home. Without properly installed gutters, water could invade our homes, causing a risk of mold or other water damage, flooding our basements and eroding our yards and landscaping. 

Parts of the Gutter System

Gutter systems are composed of several different parts that each have an important function. As homeowners, it’s important that we familiarize ourselves with the main parts of the gutter system and what they do. That way, if anything goes wrong or one of your gutter parts fails, you’ll know how to address it.

Let’s look at the 12 gutter parts that make up your system and their roles in the functionality of your gutter system as a whole. 

Gutter Sections

These are simply the gutters themselves. They are attached to run horizontally across your roofline, collecting rainwater. Gutters can be made of several different materials, including aluminum, vinyl, steel, zinc and copper. Your gutters may be seamed or seamless. Seamed or sectional gutters are usually sold in 10-foot sections. They work best for DIY installations and are the most budget friendly. Also, if one section leaks or fails, it can be removed and replaced without interfering with the rest of the gutter system. Seamless gutters are less likely to leak but cost more because they must be professionally installed.  

End Caps

End caps essentially cap off or close off the ends of the gutter. They have the very important job of keeping any water or debris from escaping the gutters and spilling out onto the ground. End caps may come with rubber seals or are sealed with a waterproof sealant to ensure it remains secure and watertight. 


Hangers or brackets attach the gutter to your home’s fascia. They not only keep the gutter securely in place, but they also provide support, preventing the gutter from sagging or pulling away from the house. As the name implies, hidden hangers are installed inside the gutter, so they’re hidden away from sight and add an extra layer of security.


Outlets are also commonly referred to as the gutter drop or the gutter outlet. This is an opening at the bottom of the gutter, where the gutter attaches to the downspout. 


Downspouts are a crucial component of any gutter system. They run vertically to the home and are usually attached at the corners. Downspouts are attached directly to the gutter and function by carrying the water down and away from the home. These may also be called downpipes or downspouts. Check your downspouts seasonally to make sure they don’t become clogged.


As its name implies, the elbow of a gutter system is the curved piece that connects to the end of the downspout, forcing the water to change direction. The elbow may be found at the top of the downspout where the gutter outlet or gutter drop is located. It may also be attached at the bottom, where it serves to help divert rainwater away from your home and its foundation. The elbow can bend forward or to the left or right. 


A miter is the fastener that connects two stretches of gutter together at the corners. These are also called miter joints or miter boxes. An outside miter box joins two sections together at an outside point, and slides into the sleeves, while an inside miter box does the same thing, but meets at an inside corner. 

Both inside and outside miter boxes must be sealed before installing. Strip miters can be used on the inside or outside corners. They perform the same job as box miters. The only difference is strip miters are small strips and not big boxes. 

Pipe Cleats

Pipe cleats, also known as downspout cleats or downspout straps, are pieces that connect the downspout to the side of your house. Pipe cleats are screwed directly into the brick or vinyl siding of your home. They give the downspouts more stability and keep them from moving when water rushes through them. 

Downspout Extensions

Downspout extensions or gutter extensions attach to the bottom of the downspout and help move water farther away from your home and its foundation in a controlled manner. Downspout extensions are very important. If they aren’t present and water is allowed to dispense very close to your home, you could have problems with mold, mildew, erosion, basement flooding and possibly foundation and structural issues.

Splash Blocks

Splash blocks divert water away from the home, preventing water from pooling near the home’s foundation. If your downspouts drain above ground and anywhere near your foundation, splash blocks are needed, as they offer an added level of water damage protection.

Splash Guards

Splash guards stop water from shooting over the gutters. Splash guards are installed in areas that get a lot of water and can potentially overflow during heavy rain— particularly in the valleys or corners where two sides of the roof meet. If you are regularly noticing water overshooting your splash guards, you may need a larger gutter that can accommodate a larger amount of water.

Gutter Guards

Gutter guards prevent your gutters from getting clogged up with leaves and other debris. Often referred to as gutter screens, gutter covers or gutter helmets, these are especially useful in areas of the country that get heavy rain and, in the Fall, when leaves are falling off the trees. By preventing debris from accumulating in your gutters, gutter guards help reduce your amount of gutter cleaning and can save you money in the long run.

Take care of your gutter system and it will continue to take care of you by protecting your home from water damage. And now that you know the main parts of the gutter system, you’re armed with the knowledge you need to know what you can fix yourself and when it’s time to call in a gutter pro.