Does Every House Need Gutters? 


 You’re house-hunting and you think you’ve found the perfect place. There’s just one thing that’s maybe not as perfect: the house has no gutters. That’s not a dealbreaker though, right? Do all homes need gutters?

Yes, a home should have gutters for the following reasons:

  • Reduce flooding potential
  • Maintain the foundation and siding of a home
  • Stop soil erosion

If you’re not quite convinced, we recommend you keep reading. In this article, we’ll talk further about why gutters are so crucial for most homes. Before you buy that gutter-free house, you’re going to want to keep reading! 

Does a House Need Gutters? The Benefits of Gutters

Have you ever toured a house and thought, “wow, those gutters take away from the exterior?” Then you might have had another thought. Wouldn’t it be better if homes didn’t have gutters at all? After all, what can gutters really do?

We’re glad you asked! Here are some very important functions of gutters.

Limit Flooding

The reason so many homes have gutters is that these plastic or metal structures catch rainwater and then redirect it. Without gutters, anytime it rained, your lawn would become a playground of puddles. 

Sure, your kids would be entertained, but the deep puddles aren’t good for your yard in the long run. What starts as puddles can progress to flooding in your front yard if you forego the gutters. 

If you have a small swimming pool worth of water sitting on your property, all sorts of bad things can happen. Standing water is a hotbed for mosquitoes, which will now be more prevalent around your home.

Grasses and flowers can be ruined. The roots of these plants are flooded with water, which leads to their death. Your landscaping will be damaged as well, which detracts from the curb appeal of your home. 

Worst of all, if the flooding is severe enough, water can seep into your basement, necessitating costly repairs. 

Maintain Your Home Exterior

Although gutters can’t prohibit all contact between the rain and your home’s siding, they do keep most of the rainfall from reaching it. The siding can maintain its color since rainwater can stain it through prolonged exposure.

Wood and water don’t mix, so if your siding is wood or wood-based, then it will rot if it’s saturated with rain often enough. What will follow is mold and/or mildew under the wood. The wood also becomes soft, so it’s no longer as functional as it once was.

You’d have to get most if not all your siding stripped and replaced. According to HomeAdvisor, you’d pay between $5,000 and $14,050 for new siding depending on the material and the size of your home. This price range does include installation as well as materials, but still, five figures for new siding is a lot for any homeowner to have to pay unless necessary. 

By the way, that’s not the only issue with your home’s exterior that can arise if you skip the gutters. Since there is no gutter to send water away from your home’s foundation, rainwater can pool up around the base. 

This might not do much after a rainstorm or two, but if it rains often enough, water can get into the foundation. This again can lead to leaks in the basement and other parts of the home. Angi,  formerly known as Angie’s List, states that slab leaks can cost $2,280 to $4,400 (or more) for repairs if the slab is moderately or severely damaged. 

Protect Against Erosion 

The last reason gutters are important is that they maintain the state of the soil. Running water is the leading cause of soil erosion, and no, we don’t mean running water in your sink or tub either. As rainwater travels through your yard, it can degrade the soil along with it. What’s left are valleys that weren’t there before.

Since the rainwater killed off the surrounding greenery, your yard could end up with these unappealing ruts throughout as carved by the rain. In some instances, grass might not grow back, leaving your yard a barren mess. 

If after reading that, you still don’t want gutters in your home, no rule or law requires that you have them. However, do be forewarned that within a matter of months or years, your yard will look bad, your home’s foundation might be falling apart, and you’ll likely have had to contend with several leaks.

Even if the value of your home was relatively high before, its value will plummet. No homebuyer wants to deal with the severe foundational, landscaping, and soil issues when everything could have been prevented had you used gutters.   

Do You Need Gutters Around the Perimeter of Your Home?

Honestly, you find gutters quite ugly, so if you had to have them, you wouldn’t want them around the entire home. Are you likely to come across a lot of properties with gutters that surround the perimeter?

That depends on several factors. If you live in an especially rainy city or town, then possibly. According to TripSavvy, the rainiest parts of the United States include:

  • Aberdeen Reservoir, Washington
  • New York, New York
  • Providence, Rhode Island
  • Virginia Beach, Virginia
  • Memphis, Tennessee
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Houston, Texas
  • Birmingham, Alabama
  • Miami, Florida
  • New Orleans, Louisiana

Even if you don’t live in any of the above locations, you might still come across some homes with encompassing gutters. The reason for this is to accommodate for a design flaw with the roof. 

The angle of a home’s roof is intended to send water downward. The water then enters the downspout and travels to the gutter. Most roofs have a single slope, but some feature more than one. For those multi-sloped roofs, the home will likely have more than one gutter, but it again depends.

On what? The other features of the roof, mostly. For instance, let’s say a roof has a front and a back slope. Yet in the center, there’s a peak. In such a situation, you could forego gutters on the sides of this house, but both the front and the back would need gutters due to the slopes of the roof. 

How Much Do New Gutters Cost?

You’re starting to realize that a home really should have gutters. If you decide to buy the gutter-less home you’re looking at now and you get gutters installed later, how much would this endeavor cost you?

A sufficient water redirection system includes not only a gutter (or several) but downspouts as well. Thus, you’ll have to factor in the cost of the downspouts into your overall tally.

According to HomeAdvisor and their most recent data, per linear foot, gutters cost between $3 and $40. That puts the national average at about $1,065, with the typical range between $585 and $1,546. Yet gutters can cost as much as $9,000, says HomeAdvisor.

The material of the gutter matters if you’re trying to save some cash. Copper gutters are among the most expensive, costing $25 to $40 and up for each piece. Stainless steel gutters are still pricy at $9 to $20.

An aluminum gutter shaves the costs at $6 to $12 while vinyl is the cheapest gutter material. Each piece of a vinyl gutter is $3 to $5. 

For a home without any gutters, HomeAdvisor quotes the average price of installation and materials at $1,750. That’s not inexpensive, per se, but it’s not terribly costly either. 

As we said before, you need downspouts too, so what would you pay for one of those? If your downspout is aluminum, then per foot, the price is between $5 and $8. 

Steel downspouts are more durable and thus are recommended if you get severe hot and/or cold weather. Per foot, you’d pay about $10. Copper downspouts, like gutters, are quite pricy, as they’re valued at $17 per foot.  

Gutter Maintenance Tips 

Once you have gutters, you must take care of them so they can keep protecting your home and landscaping from erosion and other damage. Here are some gutter maintenance tips to institute today.

Clean Your Gutters

Although gutters stay relatively clean thanks to the steady supply of rainwater, clumped-together, soaked leaves and other debris can get in there that backs the gutters up. Then the gutter is as good as useless. 

At least twice annually, clean your gutters. The first time of year to do this is in late fall before winter begins, then clean a second time in the spring ahead of summer rains. 

Inspect Your Gutters

Just because you won’t be out there cleaning your gutters every month doesn’t mean you can’t give them a thorough once-over. You should especially prioritize doing this if you just had a bad storm. 

You’re checking for backups and damage to the gutters themselves. They should work relatively quietly, so if something is clanging around in there, that’s a bad sign.

Look for Leaks

Gutters and downspouts themselves can be damaged by wear and tear, creating openings in the seals or seams that let in water. You can fix these openings easily enough with some caulk, but make sure the gutter or downspout is completely dry before you begin.

Check for Corrosion

For those homeowners who opted for aluminum, stainless steel, or copper gutters, these materials are not corrosion-proof. If you see any signs of rusting or corrosion, and especially if it’s severe, then it might be time to think about buying new gutters.  

Final Thoughts 

Although there are no laws that insist a home must have gutters, it’s for the home’s own good. Gutters can prevent exterior home damage, soil erosion, and yard flooding, all of which are catastrophic damage. The costs of new gutters and downspouts is usually less than repairing the above issues.

We hope this article has inspired you to add gutters to your home if they weren’t there already! 

Geoff

Geoff Southworth is the creator of RealEstateInfoGuide.com, the site that helps new homeowners, investors, and homeowners-to-be successfully navigate the complex world of property ownership. Geoff is a real estate investor of 8 years has had experience as a manager of a debt-free, private real estate equity fund, as well as a Registered Nurse in Emergency Trauma and Cardiac Cath Lab Care. As a result, he has developed a unique “people first, business second” approach to real estate.

Recent Posts