Why are Gutters Important?

Broken Gutter Storm DamageThe most damaging agent your house has to contend with is water. This water is usually in the form of rain. Good guttering makes the difference when it comes to keeping your home safe from the effects of rain water.

It is a shame that in too many cases homeowners do not appreciate the value of their gutters and allow them to become clogged with sticks and leaves, or to become rusted and leaky. The result is that their homes suffer substantial damage around the foundation and along the outer walls.

How can Something as Seemingly Insignificant as Guttering Make Such a Difference?

For one thing, water accumulating around the foundation causes a situation in which mold and mildew can grow. Water can seep into the basement or crawl space. Puddles create an even more damaging situation in the winter when they repeatedly freeze and thaw near the foundation.

The contracting and expanding of the water causes any cracks in the foundation to get worse. What's more, the runoff from the rain can cause erosion of the topsoil in the yard.

And this is not only the case at the foundation, but can also happen along the exterior walls when the eaves do not have enough overhang. Rain water runs over the outer wall where the guttering fails, and the result is damaged siding.

This is especially true when the siding is made from material that is not waterproof. Vinyl siding might hold up pretty well with water running over it, but hardboard lap siding or any sort of wood will suffer damage sooner than you think.

What to Do to Minimize Damage from Defective Guttering

First of all, have leaky, rusty gutters replaced. Make sure your downspouts take water far enough away from the house that it is not running back to the foundation. Pay attention to the slope of the land as you install these downspouts.

If possible, you can route the rainwater so that it can be useful by running it into a flower bed. Once good gutters are in place, it is important that you get on a regular maintenance schedule of cleaning out debris.


Cleaning gutters is even more crucial in a yard where large trees surround the house. Small sticks and leaves fall from the trees every time there is a wind storm, and much of the debris lands in the gutters. If you fail to clean them out, they will first clog up the gutters so that the water can no longer go down the downspouts.

The trapped water will cause the leaves and sticks to decay into fresh new humus. The next thing you know, you have a crop of baby trees growing in your gutters like a little row of vegetables in a garden. This looks bad and contributes to the eventual rundown of your home, so clean out those gutters.

Finally, if you are now building a home or an addition, think about the flow of the rain off the roof and plan your guttering accordingly. Overhanging eaves do a lot to protect the siding from the effects of rain.

Honestly, without eaves and with clogged or inefficient guttering, lap siding can rot and fall from the house within a year or two! It is definitely to your advantage to take care of your gutters before this happens.

Photo by Bart, Creative Commons Attribution License

See Also: Unclogging Clogged Gutters