Rain Gutters – What They Do

If you’ve ever grabbed a ladder and climbed up to the roof of your house, then you’ve probably noticed the huge amount of buildup and debris clogging your gutter system. From leaves and branches to dirt and dead bugs, gutters are a collection point for way more than just the rainwater they are designed to catch.

With the high cost and constant maintenance of a gutter system, it begs the question: Does your house really need rain gutters?

First off, to understand the importance of rain gutters you must first understand what rain gutters do.

Rain gutters catch and redirect fallen rainwater away from the base of your house. Without gutters, rainwater would hit your roof and fall like a curtain directly down to the foundation of your house. This collection of rainwater so close to the foundation can be damaging to the structure of your house, and cause problems like basement flooding. The collection of moisture can also cause slow acting damage that might not be apparent initially, but can weaken your home later.

Gutters also have the small, but convenient effect of protecting you from a downpour of rain as you enter and exit your house. The gutters reroute the water so it doesn’t bombard you like a waterfall as you embark on your daily activities.

If your house is equipped with a wide roof overhang, then gutters might not be essential for protecting the foundation of your home. Similarly, if you live in a place with little yearly rainfall, then you can probably pass on the gutter system as well.

However, for the majority of people who live in places with frequent precipitation, gutters actually are an essential addition. The good news is that despite the annoyance of blocked or clogged gutters, maintenance is fairly easy and inexpensive. Much more inexpensive, in fact, then the kinds of foundation problems and flooding that can come with the absence of an adequate gutter system.

Gutters should ideally be cleaned twice a year by removing any buildup or debris that have collected and may be blocking the passage of rainwater. You can use a ladder and simply remove the debris by hand, or you can invest in a simple gutter cleaning tool, like this one.

If you find that your gutters collect debris more frequently, perhaps from an abundance of trees surrounding your house, then you can install a simple gutter screen to block objects from entering the gutter. Gutter guards are inexpensive and are at most home improvement stores, but the effectiveness of them is highly controversial.  Many gutter cleaning companies complain that they never do the job properly and cost way too much to be worth it for the home owner.

It’s possible that over time your gutters may separate from the house, sag, or become punctured. This wear and tear is normal, and like other gutter maintenance, easy to deal with. The materials used in gutter construction are not rare or expensive. You can easily patch any holes that appear, or replace section of the gutter system as needed. All replacement products can be found online or at your local home improvement store. Sagging gutters can be replaced if they are beyond repair, or simply reattached to the home if in good working condition.