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Do I really need rain gutters?

 

Determining home maintenance needs can be a daunting task for any homeowner. There can be a litany of items on a to-do list ranging from superficial accessories to urgent necessities. Nothing seems to help prioritize these needs, however, like a good rainstorm. Since the number one function of a home is to protect you and your family from the elements, rainwater can be a good test to see exactly where you stand.

Rain affects our homes in many different ways. Surface level effects can include water infiltration into doors and windows, dirt and grime splashed up on the walls and even rotting fascia that is constantly exposed. More insidious effects can include excess seepage into the surrounding soil. This seepage could cause topsoil erosion, triggering grass and plant removal, but also eventual foundation problems if left unchecked.

Gutters could be the answer to water issues, but definitively establishing if you need them is key. In order to do this, pros and cons of having gutters must be weighed. If a decision is then made to install gutters, it is also helpful to examine certain factors to consider when choosing the right gutters for your home.

Let’s start with the bad first, just to get that out of the way.
 
 
Cons of Having Gutters(along with counter-points)

  • Aesthetics – Gutters change the look of your home, often dramatically. While some people think gutters diminish appearance, the good news is that styles, materials, and installation techniques have evolved rapidly over the years and homeowners have never before had as many options as there are available today.

  • Continued Maintenance – Because gutters are usually left open, in their base configuration, leaves, small branches, insects and occasionally even small animals can accumulate or nest over time. These obstructions can sometimes cause water backups or even a breaking away of the gutter system from the home. Optimistically, however, it is a lot less inexpensive to clean out your gutters than it is to have foundation or roof repairs due to water damage.

  • Now let’s focus on the benefits of installing gutters on your home, which are many.
     
     
    Pros of Having Gutters(no counter-points here)

  • Peace of Mind – Having a gutter system gives an extra layer of protection against the damage caused by rainwater. Foundation issues can be considerably reduced because the gutter system is designed to disperse water out and away from the home, instead of letting it fall and pool at the base.

  • Keeping Your Home Clean – Aside from greatly reducing the chances of erosion and foundation issues, gutters also help maintain appearance by keeping mud and debris from splashing up onto the baseline of the exterior walls.

  • Helping the Environment – Gutters reduce runoff that can be harmful to plants and grass in its path through soil erosion.

  • After considering the pros and cons, even if you are convinced that gutters are the way to go, there are still a few more factors to keep in mind when you are ready to move forward.
     
     
    Climate
    Like all things, gutters come in many shapes and sizes. To figure out which type is best for you, the climate must be considered. Some things to keep in mind when picking the right sized gutters are the frequency of rain, the possibility of substantial icing, and even average wind shear in your area.
     
    Location
    Closely tied with climate is location. Soil types heavily depend on where your home is located. For instance, in large parts of Texas, the soil can be very dry and prone to swelling and shrinking due to fluctuating moisture levels. In Southeastern parts of the United States, the soil can be very damp and compacted – leading to reduced absorption.
     
    Budget
    Gutters come in literally all shapes and sizes. In addition, they also come in a plethora of material types from basic vinyl to copper. Some gutter types are more suitable for certain locations, but most systems can be installed from as little as $2 or $3 a foot to as much as you would like to invest.

    There is certainly a lot to think about when determining if you need gutters. While the short answer is “probably yes” in almost every instance – sometimes simply not wanting them because you abhor the look could be enough. There are solutions to not having gutters, such as concrete aprons or advanced architectural designs, but gutters are a far more cost-effective solution and can offer a variety of customization options.

     
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