faithful gutters

Are Gutters Necessary?

May 4, 2023

TLDR: No. You do not NEED gutters in the literal sense that if you don't have them, your home will fail like it would without a roofing system. But homes greatly benefit from having them, and I'm going to let you weigh the pros and cons to determine if you WANT them or not.

You have likely had a visit from a gutter salesman who has told you in an apocalyptic voice that if you didn't get gutters for your house, you'd have a moat around your home, your slab descending into a sinkhole, and acquire some mold-related disease within the next year.

Not wanting to go back to medieval times, you may have felt that the best thing you could do is get gutters. However, a small voice within you probably wondered, does my house really need gutters? Let's break this down so you can find out.

How do gutters functionally help improve your home?

Gutters help protect your home and foundation from rainwater runoff. Instead of the rainwater falling from your roof to the ground, causing erosion (we'll talk more about this later) and unsightly splashing on your siding, it directs large volumes of water to specifically placed vertical downspouts that lead the water safely from your roof to the ground.

From there, you can further direct water to ditches and drains or collect it in rain barrels (if your area allows that sort of thing).

Gutters can help by:

  • Protecting your foundation from erosion
  • Protecting near-home landscaping that you labored so hard for
  • Preventing staining on the building's siding
  • Further protecting your fascia board
  • Collecting and diverting water away from your structure

Will my home's foundation really erode without gutters?

So I made a funny at the beginning of the article about the doomsday salesperson striking fear in your hearts about foundation erosion. Well, there is some truth in that. First off, you would have to live in a heavily rainy climate for this to apply. You dry climate people are in the clear.

If left to the elements for years and years, water is one of Earth's most powerful elements. If water can erode stone in the Grand Canyon to the extent that it did, imagine what it could do to dirt and clay over 20 years. 

Without gutters, rainwater will drip from the eave of your roof onto the exact same perimeter line around your home. Every time it rains, it will fall to the exact same spot over, and over, and over again, slowly deepening the divot around your home.

So get gutters, right? Well... unless your home is built on the loosest soil imaginable, it is unlikely that your slab will descend into an eroded pit. I said "unlikely" because it has happened before. So it isn't out of the question.

But even with gutters, you can still be irresponsible to your foundation. Those downspouts are diverting 100s of gallons of water at a fast rate. That much force can erode the entire section by the downspout exit.

So be the responsible gutter owner, put some stones, downspout splash blocks, or plan an above-ground or below-ground diversion route. 

What if I don't have dirt around my home?

Alright, you cheeky negotiator, you. Let's use the different possible scenarios other than dirt and clay: grass, rocks, and cement.

Grass will definitely prolong erosion but, unfortunately, will eventually give way to the forces of nature. And fairly quickly I might add (I speak from experience as there is a section of my home that doesn't have gutters, and it killed my grass and ate its way to the clay and gravel).

Rocks are a great erosion prevention method. But after you factor in a 2-foot perimeter around your entire home, you would be wishing you just paid someone to install gutters instead of forking up the money for a load or two of gravel and the back-breaking work to place them. Not to mention, the constant splash of water on the side of your building will eventually cause mildew to start growing. 

Cement obviously isn't going anywhere. Well... at least not in your lifetime. Two things:

  1. Not many homes are fully surrounded by concrete. Businesses and apartments typically, but not really residential homes.

  2. You've probably seen what I'm about to mention, that black mildew line around the entire building made from constant moisture in the same spot.

How can gutters improve my quality of life?

For me personally, it's four things.

  1. I'm in my forever home now, so I have peace of mind knowing my foundation will not erode over the 20+ years I am there. 

  2. I know my garden is not getting washed away by gallons of water being dumped on it. I have a water diversion system set up to clear my home and garden.

  3. I found out that the water running off a roof is significantly more volume than just regular rain falling from the sky. So if I have to run out to the shed to get the pizza out of the deep freezer, then I actually get more wet passing under that waterfall coming off my roof than I do from the rain as I sprint through my backyard.

  4. And lastly, gutters can look GOOD on a home. Gone are the days of standard manilla or white 5" gutters. You have options! I have seen some homes go from a nice house to a NICE house because they chose a beautiful contrasting color that just made their house pop! When looking at the before pictures, it kindas just looks crappy in comparison.

Let us help

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So do you NEED gutters? Meh... But I can assure you, you'd greatly benefit from having them. If you need help deciding on styles, colors, placements, DIY, etc. then just give us a call. We've helped thousands over the past 20 years install everything from standard k-style seamless gutters to beautiful half-round copper gutters. Contact us to schedule a free appointment.

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