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Does a Homeowner Really Need Gutters?

You may have heard someone complain incessantly about the problems they are having with their gutters. (Maybe that someone is the person in the mirror.) You hear tales of woe that include aesthetically-displeasing rust spots or holes, misshapen or separated gutter sections, ice dams, unwanted animal habitats, and runoff water that trickles, pours, and gushes where it isn’t supposed to. Why, it’s almost enough to make you want to rip down the gutters altogether and put them out of their misery!

Here’s a proper response to that wanton desire: you can live without gutters. And you may also be able to survive quite nicely without home insurance, obeying speed limits, or reporting income on your tax forms.

But why tempt fate?


You could shatter your mirror to test out that “seven years bad luck” theory. But why?

Fixes for Common Gutter Problems

Here is a brief rundown of frequently-reported gutter issues, along with the proper way to address them.

    • Unsightly exterior appearance. Most aluminum gutters can be painted to match your home’s trim or siding. Or you can purchase ornamental gutters made of copper to bolster your home’s curb appeal.
    • Presence of animals. Birds, bugs, rodents, and other critters won’t move in if your gutters are kept clean of moisture and debris. So clean the gutters out regularly.
    • Buckling, crumpling, or separated gutters. Add extra fasteners to the gutters, and make sure they are attached to roof studs instead of just fascia boards. (Keeping gutters clean will help, too.)
    • Ice dams. Gutters have nothing to do with ice dams; they’re caused by a warm roof that allows snow and ice to melt and freeze. So thoroughly insulate your roof and attic to solve this problem.
    • Snowpack in gutters. Consider running a heating cable inside your gutters and/or underneath your roof shingles near the roofline. There are several products available that can melt snowpack and turn it into runoff water.


Or, you could move to Hawaii. That works too.

But, If You Insist…

If for some reason you are unable or unwilling to make these adjustments and still want to jettison your gutters entirely, there are a few other things to consider.

First and foremost, the problem may not be with the gutters themselves, but with their positioning. Gutters that are placed too far forward allow water to run down behind them, rotting the fascia boards and seeping into your attic or home. Conversely, gutters that are recessed too far under your roofline permit water to overflow the outer edge and leak into your basement or foundation.

But, if you are staunchly determined to tear down gutters, check to see if your roof overhang is at least six inches long to let trickling or flowing water clear the house. Also, make sure that the ground next to the house is either concrete which is sloped to funnel the water away from the foundation, or crushed stone to absorb the water into the ground.

An Alternative Proposal

Finally, there’s one more option you may wish to consider before starting your gutter tear-down: installing a gutter guard. They can keep animals and debris out of your gutters, thus helping to preserve your gutters’ structural integrity. And they help eliminate the problem of snowpack sitting inside your gutters. Plus, you won’t have to worry about cleaning your gutters again.

It is possible for a healthy home to exist without gutters. But why roll the dice when it comes to potentially costly repairs?


Snake eyes! That’s 15 grand for foundation repair!