The Importance of Rain Gutters: Why They’re a Good Investment

What Are Rain Gutters?

A rain gutter is a component of a water discharge system for a building. Water from a pitched roof flows down into a gutter. This is an attempt to control where the water runoff will end up. Guttering in its earliest form consisted of lined wooden or stone troughs. 

Dangers of Not Owning Rain Gutters

Garden Erosion

If gardening is a personal hobby of yours and having a beautiful garden is one of your aspirations, rainwater may become a hurdle. If you don't have a proper rain gutter system.

Garden erosion is caused by excess water running over the soil. Which results in removing important layers of nutrients and eventually turning your garden into a muddy mess. Not having rain gutters contributes to this phenomenon. Rainwater cascading from your roof carries enough force to wash away soil faster than just falling rainwater. Garden erosion can result in extensive damage, which will need expensive treatments to make the soil fertile.

Damaged Exteriors

During a rainstorm, a lot of water can run down your siding. Chipped or pealed paintwork, damp walls, and disheveled doors and windows are just some of the consequences of excess rainwater freely flowing down your walls.

Damp walls should be taken seriously as they can develop mold infestations. These infestations may pose a health risk for all people and pets occupying a property. Damp walls made of wood can also rot over time, putting the property's structural integrity at risk.

Flooding Basements

One of many homeowners' worst nightmares and single most common home problem, according to the National Flood Insurance Program, is flooded basements. Many factors cause basements to flood, like improper lot grading, damaged foundation, and problems with the piping. Especially if the foundation is damaged and there isn't a rain gutter system in place to redirect water away from the property. Rainwater will percolate through the cracks and other vulnerable places, leaving your basement a mess. Flooded basements also contribute to foundation damage and will also cause mold and pest infestations.

Foundation Damage

The big one; you definitely don't want this to happen to your home because repair costs can skyrocket pretty fast. Foundation damage happens when excess water fails to redirect away from your property and permeates through your foundations. This process causes weakening to the concrete and compromises the structural integrity of your home or commercial property. In fact, this is the main reason rain gutters exist: to impede water damage by preventing cascading rainwater from flooding your foundation.

Decreased Property Lifespan

With all the problems water damage can bring, you should think about how this may affect your property after several rainy seasons. Severe water damage can render a property inhabitable. After all, rotting walls and cracking foundations aren't traits of a long-lasting property.

Benefits of Having Rain Gutters

Keep People Dry

Obviously, you don’t want to enter or exit your home and get soaked by a waterfall coming from above. Gutters collect rain from your roof and transfer it to the ground without pouring all over the place. Their purpose is to divert the rain away from your roof and onto the ground in a controlled way.

Create a Neater Look

Water flowing against your home can get sloppy, as it splashes dirt and residue against the siding. Over time, this will cause your home’s appearance to look dirty, forcing you to clean up the mess often. It can also make paint chip away, which calls for the eventual repainting of your exterior. Gutters consolidate rain, keeping your home looking like new without extra effort. Keep your gutters themselves looking neat too by learning how to clean them easily.

Prevents Decay

Your home’s exterior and roof may be lined with tar paper and plywood, which are not completely waterproof. Since siding and shingles are installed in pieces over these materials, they might have gaps and shift over time. These gaps may allow water to eventually sneak under them. As water leaks in, siding and roofs soaked with excessive water can begin to deteriorate and even rot. Materials can eventually break down and crack, causing your home to essentially fall apart over time. Rain gutters funnel the water away from your home, avoiding these problems and keeping your home intact.

Eliminate Insects

Mosquitoes, termites and other pests are attracted to damp areas and standing water. Without gutters directing water away from your home, it can become very attractive for bugs. Insects surrounding your home can be unpleasant and annoying. What’s more, they can even start to eat away at your home’s exterior. As the gutters and enclosed downspouts divert water away from the roof and home, you reduce the risk of standing water and increased amounts of pests.

Protect Landscaping

Pools of water landing on your roof are likely to run off into your yard, damaging landscaping from heavy flows. Furthermore, large amounts of water can erode soil, causing your home’s foundation to weaken. Rain gutters can control the amount of water passed into your yard. This is better for your grass, plants, and vegetation. You can redirect water away from your foundation by installing a gutter system that forces water to pass away from, rather than onto your landscaping.

Alternatives to Rain Gutters

Copper Gutters

If the reason for choosing an alternative is the poor appearance of the gutter, then one can opt for a copper gutter. It has several advantages over traditional gutters, such as being rust-proof, low-maintenance, and having a much better appearance. In fact, copper gutters may last anywhere between 30 to even 100 years in any weather, depending on how well they are installed. Also, they have an attractive appearance which can complement almost all house designs.

Rain Chains

Rain chains, called 'kusari doi' in Japanese, have been used for hundreds of years in Japan. And are an attractive substitute for traditional gutter-downspout systems. This technique involves collecting rainwater from the roof and transferring it to underground barrels or reservoirs. This is done by using a series of chains or attractive cup systems, which break down the force of the water. The collected water can be used for watering plants, or even for a birdbath.

Rain Dispersal Systems

Several rainwater dispersal systems are available in the market, which serves as a good replacement for a rain gutter. These systems work by breaking up the rainwater flow into either smaller streams or drops. Smaller drops equal less force on impact. The most popular system is undeniably the Rainhandler. This system works by splitting up a stream of water using an angled-louver system, and directing the water in a 2- or 3-foot band. The system also claims to reduce the need to continuously clean clogged gutters or ice dams and makes climbing up unnecessary. Another dispersal system is the Rain Breakerz, which works by splitting up each water drop into 19 smaller droplets.

Grading

Inspect the grading around your house. Ideally, the house should be built on a height, with the surrounding ground at a lower level. The layout should be in the form of a constant slope. The grade should also avoid low spots that may collect water or any high spots that might block its flow. If the house is not at a height, then concrete 'aprons' can be built around the foundations to provide the required slope.

Drip Edge

This is a metallic attachment at the roof edge, which provides an additional barrier to falling water. Additionally, it can further help keep the water from falling very close to the house. The drip edge is a metal strip that is installed between the roof decking and the shingle to prevent water from seeping into the wood below the shingle. Along with protecting the foundation, this also reduces chances of water splashing on the siding and damaging it. The drip edge can also be used along with a rain gutter to properly channel runoff water from the roof into the gutter. 

Ground Gutter

A ground gutter can help protect the house foundation and siding from rainwater, without being too conspicuous. This just consists of digging a V-shaped trench at the drip-line. The trench is lined with waterproof material like polyethylene, and a perforated pipe is placed at the bottom. Once lined the trench is filled with gravel. This gutter is also called a French drain and allows a network of pipes to be laid all around the house. 

Care is taken to ensure that the trench is angled away from the house to direct water away. When it rains, runoff falling over the roof enters the trench and is carried by the pipe to an underwater drain for collection. The path can even be covered with mulch, and shrubs can be grown on it. An advantage of this system is that it needs little to no maintenance.

Drip Path

In this method, the rainwater falling off the roof is trapped by a paved path placed directly under the roof edge. This path is constructed by fixing blocks or bricks in the soil to provide a hard surface to the falling water. The bricks are placed in a sloping manner to channel the water away from the house. A concrete apron poured at least 6 inches around the foundation. This apron will also drain away the rainwater if it is constructed in a sloping manner. A path made with large pebbles or stones can also be laid all around the house. 

Hidden Gutters

Built-in gutters also called box or hidden gutters, are actually a type of rain gutter. Box gutters are valley-like troughs at the edges of roofs. They are concealed in appearance and don't draw attention from the beauty of the house design. They are not cylindrical like ordinary rain gutters, do not suffer from the problem of clogging, and require lesser maintenance. However, since they are hidden from view, any problem like corrosion or blockage might become severe before it attracts someone's attention.

Conclusion

If your home already has rain gutters, consider yourself lucky and make sure you take care of them. And if your home currently does not have rain gutters, considering some of the ideas that were listed above. As we have learned, the consequences of not having rain gutters greatly outweigh the general price of installing rain gutters. But if you not able to pull the financial trigger at this time, consider some cheaper alternatives that we mentioned above. 

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Tyler Farr
 

Tyler is an energetic nature enthusiast who is currently considering moving into a tiny house. Tyler and his wife enjoy hiking, mountain biking, camping, and doing anything in the great outdoors. He hopes that the articles he writes will help others learn how important it is to take care of the environment.

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