How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

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Should I put gutters on the house?

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Gutters are an excellent investment for protecting your home. They prevent two recurring problems we see in homes that don’t have them:

  1. When the rain runs directly off the roof edge, splash-back bouncing off the ground or paved areas onto the walls leads to deterioration of paint finishes and wood-rot damaged siding, doors, and trim within the first few feet above the ground,
  2. The rain water digs a trench below the drip edge of the roof, and pours excess water into the ground next to the foundation, which contributes to soil erosion.

   By managing roof rain water and routing it away from the home, gutters eliminate these problems. But simply having gutters installed on your home is not enough. They have to be maintained. Leaf debris needs to be cleaned out of the gutters regularly, because clogged gutters are worse than having no gutters at all. Gutters clogged with leaves (like in the photo above) will back up into the base of the roof sheathing, causing wood rot at the edge of the roof. Gutter guards can eliminate the gutter-cleaning chore but, even with gutter guards, leaves can collect in the roof valleys above the gutters and have to be cleaned out occasionally.

   Also, gutters need extensions to get the rain water at least four feet away from the house, and a splash block at the end. Otherwise, you end up with a concentration of water being dumped at the corners of the foundation.

    And be sure to get your gutter system installed by a licensed contractor. A semi-professional installation by a handyman can hand you a headache like the gutter shown below, which is set too low, secured to the fascia too far apart, inadequately sloped, and is pulling away from the mounting. A good portion of the rainwater falling off this roof is going behind the gutter.

   We sometimes get asked by homebuyers why brand-new luxury houses don’t have gutters. The answer is simple: any builder will tell you that no one ever walked away from a house because it didn’t have gutters. They are not something that is noticed, and it’s not possible for a builder to get boost in the sale price because of gutters, which typically cost $2,000 to $4,000. 

   Although we highly recommend gutters for protecting your house investment, it may not be a great idea if you are planning on selling within a few years, because you will essentially give them away when you sell, and someone else will get the long-term reward for your investment.

    Also, see our blog post Why do roof edges start leaking?

     Visit our ROOF AND ATTIC page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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