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Why Do Houses Have Gutters?

Why Do Houses Have Gutters?

Gutters are a common feature on almost every home, but have you ever wondered what exactly gutters are for?

Gutters are installed on houses to guide the flow of water from the roof away from the foundation.

Foundations are built to be waterproof to an extent, but all effort needs to be made to limit the amount of water that pools around the foundation. Gutters assist in directing water away from your home.  

Would you like to know more about why gutters are installed in most homes, and why some houses don’t have them? Well, keep reading and we will go into detail about everything you should know.

Do You Really Need Gutters on Your House?

Should you add gutters to your home? It depends.

If your roof slopes on many sides, then you will likely need gutters to ensure that the water doesn’t flow off of the roof and slide down onto your soil. If this happens, it will slowly erode the soil from your landscape a small amount at a time. 

If you have certain areas of the roof where water often falls when it rains, then this would be an ideal area to have a gutter installed. So, instead of the water pouring over the edge of the roof and onto the ground, it will be caught in the gutter. 

The gutter works to move the collected water across the roof and away from the foundation and landscape of the grounds. This will keep your land from getting corroded and causing issues with the foundation of the home. 

However, some homes do not have a sloped roof, which means that the water runoff is not as severe. Because of this, the house does not come with gutters, though they can be added on if you like. 

Why Do Some Houses Not Have Gutters?

Well, as we just mentioned, not all homes will come with gutters installed. In fact, some don’t necessarily need to have them.

It all comes down to the shape of the roof and how sloped it is. If you have a roof that slopes at a tight angle, then you will likely need gutters to ensure that your land is not compromised. 

If you don’t have much a slope and don’t often see runoff when it rains, then you may be okay not having any gutters. Perhaps a rain chain could be a suitable option.

If you see some runoff and would like to make sure that your home’s foundation won’t be affected, then you can choose to install gutters as a precaution. Having gutters will not hurt your home, but not having them could.

What Happens if You Don’t Have Gutters?

If you were wondering what would happen if you choose to leave your home without gutters, then there are some serious effects that you should know about. Though gutters don’t seem like a very important part of the home, they do keep your foundation protected from soil erosion and excessive settling.

When your foundation settles, this means that it sinks into the soil. This can happen over time with poor weather conditions, or just because of natural corrosion over a long period of time. Some settling is expected.

If your foundation settles, this can cause damage to your home in several ways. If the foundation begins to crack and separate, then you could see cracks along the floors, driveway, or walls of your home because one section of the foundation is sinking faster than the others.

You might also start to see cracks forming around your windows and doors, which is caused by the pressure from an uneven foundation. This will continue and worsen over time, so if you begin to see this and patch the cracks up, they will eventually come undone again. 

The basement is one of the first areas to show foundation issues. If you notice cracks above the basement, your foundation issues may be severe.  

It is recommended to call in professionals to assess the situation at this point because there will likely be some repairs that you will not be able to handle yourself.

Also, having a professional opinion can help for insurance purposes if you intend to pay for work that needs to be done, some of the amounts might be covered.

Having a professional take a look first can speed up that process and hopefully get your money to you sooner. 

What Can I Use instead of Gutters?

If you need some way to direct the water off your roof when it rains, but you don’t want or can’t afford gutters then what are your options?

There are several choices to pick from when you want to install a water catching system for your roof. Here are some of the most common solutions.

Rain Chains 

Rain chains are the most elegant-looking option for those who want something that stands out in a good way. These can replace bulky gutters and give you a well-designed option that does more than just look good. 

These chains come in all different designs and styles, but they all do the same thing. They look similar to bowls attached to a string, which allows the water to flow off the roof and into each bowl.

This not only keeps the water from flowing toward the foundation, but it also slows the water down so that it won’t do as much damage when it does hit the soil. 

Drip Edges 

If you want something natural that seems like it is part of the original home’s build, then adding a drop edge could be your best solution. These edges are more subtle than a gutter but are usually kept in the same spots around the edge of the roof.

These edges are shaped so that they allow the water to drip off of the roof in a slow pattern rather than rushing down to a single point and having runoff. This can help protect the foundation, and it is also fairly easy to install. 

These drip edges also add some extra protection to the shingles since they will keep water and moisture from getting under them. 

Ground Gutter 

This option is one that many homeowners like because it does not show when on your home. Once this gutter is installed, you won’t need to do much routine maintenance, like with regular gutters. 

Ground gutters work like a french drain. They are installed on the ground and are used to move the water away from the foundation.

They can be used instead of traditional gutters or with traditional gutters.

No more getting onto a ladder and scooping out piles of leaves from a gutter. Also, you don’t have to deal with freezing with a ground gutter either, which makes it ideal for those with homes in colder areas. 

Final Thoughts 

Gutters are a part of a home that most people don’t think about, but if you don’t have any when you need them, then you could be in for a nasty surprise down the line. Keeping your foundation protected is a big job, but having gutters on your home will make a big difference. 

So, take a look at your roof to see if you need them. Or, if you already have them but want to opt for a better-looking solution, then choose the alternative options that will keep your home’s foundation from settling and add some flair to your home.

Lindsay Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! I created this website to be a resource for everyone who wants to make the best home possible.