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Gutters: Why Exactly Does a Home Need Them in the First Place?

June 10, 2018

To an ordinary homeowner, it may seem strange that gutters are necessary. What do gutters do except collect rain water and carry it away from the house? Many homeowners may find themselves asking why they need gutters, and whether or not their gutters need to be maintained. This post will cover the many benefits of gutters and discuss the function of gutters on an ordinary home. 

How Rain Gutters Work

Gutters are an important part of the home’s drainage system. Gutters are positioned at the edge of the roof line to collect rain water as it runs over the shingles. Gutters can be made of aluminum, copper or other metals. They are caulked so they can hold water without leaking.

Once rain rolls into the gutters, it flows to the downspout, where it is carried away from the home’s foundation. Some downspouts carry water down to the ground, where it flows out over a drainage tray. Other downspouts carry water under the ground to a place farther from the home. 

Benefits and Why This Is Important

A good set of gutters will prevent problems like standing water on the ground around the house. Water is the enemy of traditional building materials like metal, wood and even brick. Standing water can rot and warp wood, cause metal to rust, and can break apart brick during freeze/thaw cycles. Homes that are not properly protected from water can suffer a variety of structural problems, costing homeowners hundreds or thousands of dollars in repairs. 

In addition to protecting the home from structural damage, gutters can serve many other functions around the house. 

Protect Garden Beds

Without gutters to direct water away from the house, garden beds just beneath the roof’s overhang would be constantly saturated on a regular basis. Flowers and shrubs that don’t like “wet feet” would quickly suffer from root rot. Over time, lack of gutters could make landscaping around the property much more difficult, which is something that can affect the long term value of a home.

Prevent Soil Erosion

Homes are traditionally built on a shallow slope, so rain water that hits the ground around the home will trickle away to lower parts of the yard. Without gutters, rain water on the house would simply roll off the roof and onto the ground below, where it would cause the soil on the property to erode. Over time, this could cause the landscape around the house to change dramatically. In addition, soil erosion causes nutrient-rich topsoil to wash away, which can make it difficult to grow plants on the property. 

Prevent Leaks and Mold Growth

Standing water around the foundation of the home can eventually lead to leaks in the basement. During rain storms, water that saturates the soil around the foundation can cause cracks in the foundation walls, floods in the basement and mold. In homes without basements, standing water around the home can still lead to foundation trouble. 

In parts of the country where the winters are cold, dysfunctional gutters can also cause “ice dams” wherein ice to backs up under the shingles at the edge of the roof line. When the water melts, this causes leaks in the attic, upper floors and walls of the home. 

Water intrusion in the house can also cause mold growth. If this problem is not fixed, people living on the premises can suffer from health problems.

Prevent Annoying Puddles

Gutters that malfunction can cause large puddles to form in driveways and on walkways, which makes it difficult to walk around the house during and after a rain storm. In parts of the country with cold winters, this can also cause the pavement around the house to be very slippery. 

At the end of the day, gutters protect your home and everything around it despite being such a small part of the structure. Treat them with the same respect as other parts of the home, and you’ll be thanking yourself years down the line.

Content provided by guest blogger Kris Lindahl who is passionate about sharing her experiences working in the real estate industry. She is the owner of, which shows off great properties for sale in the great state of Minnesota.