How To Look At A House
McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
site-built, mobile/manfuactured and modular homes
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:
- 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,
- 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?
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To learn more about roofs and attics, see these other blog posts:
• Why is my roof sheathing sagging between the trusses?
• Why is granule loss a problem for an asphalt shingle roof?
• What are the mistakes to avoid when doing attic improvements?
• What causes roof shingles to curl up at corners?
• What causes shingles to buckle along a line on the roof?
• What causes leaks at a fake roof dormer?
• What causes a sagging roof ridge line?
• What causes bubble-like blisters in a built-up and gravel roof?
• Why does it cost so much more to replace a steep roof than a low slope roof?
• What is "ponding" on a flat roof?
• Is an attic required to have a light by the building code?
• How can I inspect my roof for hurricane damage?
• Why is premature curl of roof shingles a problem?
• How can I tell if a roof has more than one layer of shingles?
• What are the common problems with attic insulation?
• What is the life expectancy of an asbestos cement shingle roof?
• What's the average lifespan of a roof?
• Why is it a mistake to replace a roof and not replace its flashings?
• Why is there no attic access hatch in the house?
• What is the building code requirement for an attic access hatch, scuttle, or door?
• Does a roof with multiple layers of shingles last longer?
• What can I do to prevent roof leaks?
• Are roof trusses better than roof rafters (stick framing)?
• Why is a popped nail in a shingle roof a problem? How do I fix it?
• What are the most common problems with wood roof trusses?
• What causes a lump or dip in the roof?
• If my roof is not leaking, why does it need to be replaced?
• How can I be sure my roofing contractor got a permit?
• How many layers of roofing are allowed on a home?
• What are the dark lines running parallel to shingles on my roof?
• Can metal roofing be used on a low slope/pitch roof?
• How can I make my roof last longer?
• What are the warning signs of a dangerous attic pull-down ladder?
• How can I find out the age of a roof?
• Should I buy a house that needs a new roof?
• Should I buy a house with an old roof?
• What are those metal boxes on the roof?
• What does "lack of tab adhesion" in an asphalt shingle roof mean?
• Why do my dormer windows leak?
• Do home inspectors go on the roof? Do they get in the attic?
• Should I put gutters on the house?
• How much of a roof truss can I cut out to make a storage platform in the attic?
• What's the difference between an "architectural" and a regular shingle roof?
• What does a home inspector look for when examining a roof?
• Do stains on the ceiling mean the roof is leaking?
• How can I tell if the house needs a new roof?
• Why does my homeowner's insurance want a roof inspection?
• What are the hazards to avoid when going into an attic?
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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