Every year as the spring season rolls around, I’m reminded of the adage that “April showers bring May flowers.” And like the countless drops of water in each April shower, there are just as many opinions when it comes to rain gutters.
A few years back, Katahdin Cedar Log Homes in Oakfield, Maine, published a concise but comprehensive article reviewing the pros and cons of getting, keeping, or replacing rain gutters.
While a few points are specific to log homes, most are applicable to virtually any home. In fact, the article notes that the decision to use rain gutters completely—or on certain rooflines—depends on a number of factors:
House location, foundation and grading. If the home is situated on level or downwardly sloping land, proper drainage may occur naturally. However, if topography is not naturally well drained, gutters may keep excess moisture away from the foundation.
Surrounding vegetation. If the home is in a wooded area, particularly with pine needles, gutters may add an extra and time-consuming maintenance task to seasonal cleaning.
Average precipitation. In regions that get heavy rain, gutters and downspouts may be a necessity. For homes located in areas with heavy snowfall, gutters may be more of a hindrance when clearing snow off the roof and avoiding damaging ice dams.
Gutter maintenance. Aluminum or vinyl gutters can be painted or purchased in a variety of colors to minimize the visual impact. If you’re interested in wooden gutters, be sure to keep in mind that they need to be painted, cleaned and maintained both inside and outside.
For homeowners who want to go without gutters:
– Make sure you have at least six inches of roof overhang to keep water away from walls.
– Install directional V-shaped guides over doors, entry areas and walkways so people can pass underneath without getting drenched.
– Ensure drainage around the house, including the base of your foundation, is sufficient to carry water away from your home.
– Consider installing a gravel perimeter to the foundation under the drip line to help dissipate water flow.
– Allow enough space for plantings to be out of the direct stream of water, and more importantly, to protect woody bushes from snowfall falling from the roof.