Roofing with Gutters and Leaders: Purpose, Installation and Cleaning

Roofing with Gutters and Leaders
  • Author: Amanda Arnold
  • Posted On: June 6, 2022
  • Updated On: August 21, 2023

Leader heads and gutter heads are some of the most commern terms that roofing contractors use. Examining your eaves troughs, you’ll notice funnel-shaped metal pieces connecting them to your downspouts. These are known as leader’s heads, and they play a crucial function in ensuring the safety of your roof. 

Whereas, downspouts and leaders are vertical pipes that convey rainfall from gutters to the ground, sewers, or wells. The quality of gutter leaders and downspouts determines the performance of a gutter system.

All components, including the gutter leader heads, must be properly placed especially if you are renovating or constructing a new house. 

In this blog, we will look closer at what is a gutter leader. gutter leaders and downspouts, gutter and leaders cleaning, the purpose of gutter leader heads, and gutter and leader installation steps. 

What is a Gutter Leader

A gutter leader is also known as downspouts – a collection box or head. It helps protect against the overflow of rainwater at the roofline. 

A leader is a basic or vital component of downspouts or gutters. Mostly gutter leaders are installed at the top of downspouts. So, it works as a funnel.

Gutter leaders and gutter leader heads are made up of the same material. However,  it is possible to make the gutter leader heads with decorative material to match your home style. On the other hand, it will also help improve your home’s curb appeal. Therefore homeowners must choose right gutter system

Purpose of Gutter Leaderheads

A gutter leader head uses as a catch basin to help properly flow water from the roofline to the drainage system or downspout. Because of locating under the soffit, gutter leader heads allow air into the line, preventing vacuum locking and gutter gurgling.

Every roofing requires a lot more than just covering the top of the house. we can divide the purpose of gutter leaderhead into following categories. 

Aesthetic Appeal 

Most homeowners install gutter leader heads to enhance the aesthetic appeal of their homes. However, there are endless benefits and purposes of gutter and leader installation. As a homeowner, you must install a gutter leader head if your downspout is making an overflowing rainwater sound during a rainy season.

Water Overflow Handling

The basic reason behind the gutter and leader installation is handling the water overflow. So, you can see a huge demand for gutters and leader heads in the construction industry. Homeowners can undoubtedly tackle water overflow issues with several other methods. But still, gutter leader heads are the basic consideration to save your roofline from unavoidable damage.

A letterhead helps to make a smooth connection between your gutter and downspout to get better flow and proper drainage of the roofline.

Increase Gutter’s Lifespan

Undoubtedly, gutter leader heads comprise the same material as downspouts and gutters. But leaders heads have protection against UV rays because of their protective coating. So, this protection coating is the main reason to increase the lifespan of gutters.

The life span of gutters and downspouts matters because it is not easy and affordable again and again to install a new gutter system. On the other hand, it might be difficult to find a durable gutter system to replace your old gutter or downspout system.

3 Key Factors to Consider for Gutter And Leader Installation

Gutter And Leader Installation

Gutter leader heads help to channel the rainwater directly from the gutters to the downspout system without any blockage or gurgling issues. Before rain gutters installation takes place, keep the following factors in mind. 

Size Of Roof

Ensure to choose a gutter system after measuring the accurate size of your home’s roof. If you have already installed gutters and know you are looking for gutter leader heads, you still need to measure your gutter size.

In case of a large roof area with a great opportunity for rainwater storage, you might need to install 6-7 inches gutters and a leader’s system. You can still decide after consulting a local contractor.

Leader Pipe Placement

No matter the size of your home’s roof or gutter system, you must place the leader pipe away from the house. Indeed, keeping your home, especially driveways, basements, or deck areas, safe from rainwater is essential.

On the other hand, the appropriate placement of leader’s pipes is also necessary to enhance your home value. If you have placed a leader pipe in front of your home or walkways, it will surely compromise your home’s aesthetics.

Leader Pipe Size

Like the gutter or downspout’s system size, leader pipe size also matters greatly. If your home has a large and wide roofline, it would be best to use a large outlet leader pipe. You can also install multiple leader pipes to improve water flow toward the downspouts.

Collapsed Gutter Leader

If your gutter’s leader heads are continuously collapsing, ensure no blockage, such as leaves or debris in leader pipes or gutters. The entire gutter or downspout system will surely collapse if your letterhead is stressed with trash.

Most gutter leader heads start overflowing, especially during heavy rainfall. It is not normal and surely indicates that there is an issue in your gutters. This issue occurs if your gutter leader’s head’s pipe is far away from the gutter. So, it would be best to relocate the pipe to tackle this issue.

Ensure to replace or repair of the collaged gutters and leaders immediately. A cracked or collapsing gutter system might lead the water to your home, even in your living space.

4 Easy Maintenance Tips for Gutter And Leader Cleaning

4 Easy Maintenance Tips for Gutter And Leader Cleaning

Even after installing a durable and well-maintained gutter and leaders’ system, it cannot retain its beauty or worth without proper cleaning and maintenance. Don’t worry; maintaining and cleaning gutter leader heads is like maintaining gutters or downspout systems. 

However, you have to follow professional cleaning practices to increase the gutter leader head’s life span.

1. Remove Debris From Gutters

When we talk about DIY gutter cleaning, it involves the removal of debris, such as leaves and twigs from the gutters. Ensure to clean this debris after or before every heavy rainfall session. If you are not doing so, it might lead to gutters system failure, blockage, and collapse in severe conditions.

2. Scheduled Inspections Of Gutters

We all know that prevention is always better than cure. Similarly, you must focus on the time-to-time inspection of your gutters and leaders. Even if yours are newly installed gutters or well-maintained or  you still need to inspect them to measure cleaning and repairing needs timely.

If you cannot inspect any issue in your gutter system, you can hire a professional inspection team to get a better examination. Timely inspection is essential to save yourself from a high cost or huge damage because gutters replacement costs are higher than gutter repair costs. So, make a decision wisely.

3. Install Gutters Guards

If homeowners don’t have time for proper gutter and leader cleaning and maintenance, installing gutter guards is the best solution. Gutter guards will prevent debris such as twigs, branches, and leaves from entering the gutters.

So, one of the benefits of gutters guards is to improve the overall performance of gutters and leaders. On the other hand, it will also increase the life span of your gutters and downspouts systems.

4. Call A Professional

Because of a busy schedule or any other issues, if you, as a homeowner, cannot clean, repair or maintain your gutters, it’s time to get a professional assistant! No doubt, professional gutters cleanings will cost you more than DIY cleaning. But professional gutter cleaning and repairing cost is still lower than new gutters installation costs. you must do your research to find the best company for roof gutter installation. 

So, think wisely and save some pennies!

Let the Rain Fall, You’re Coming Clean!

Gutters and leaders cleaning plays a vital role in the appropriate functioning of gutter leader heads. If you are not maintaining or cleaning your gutters systems timely, the debris in leader pipes or even heads might cause water overflow. 

Above all, please don’t decide to replace your gutters system simply based on their appearance. If you still find things confusing, contacting a professional contractor is always a great solution!


  • How Do I know if Gutter Leaders are not Working?
    If the gutter leaders are clogged or drainage is slow long after the rain stops, it’s a telltale sign that it requires cleaning or repair. 
  • What is Meant by Gutter in Building?
    Gutter or guttering is part of the water disposal system in a building. The perimeter runs around the roof, collecting rain water into downpipes towards drainage system. 
  • When Do I need to Replace Gutters and Leaders?
    The average lifespan of Galvanized steel and aluminum gutters is up to 20 years. Whereas copper gutters are durable up to 50 years. 
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Author: Amanda Arnold

Amanda has been working with ConstructionHow since 2021. Her experience spans over 5 years in the creative niche such as home decor and trends, landscaping, renovations, and custom architectural values. As a home designer expert, she has a keen eye for the latest home improvement trends with accurate facts that readers find impossible to ignore. Being invested in home-building trends is how she has gained her lucrative expertise exploring more to bring a positive ambiance for all homeowners (and even tenants!). Currently, she lives in a beautiful beach home, a source of fascination for her.