If you are like many homeowners, you have probably wondered whether gutters are necessary. After all, they are prone to clogging, attract nesting birds, can only handle a limited volume of water, and can eventually pull away from your roof or tilt. Some roofers even advise against them.
Yes, rain gutters can be a controversial subject. They are generally not required by law in many jurisdictions and many new construction homes omit them even when they are beneficial. In order to decide for yourself whether rain gutters are necessary for your home, it is best to weigh the facts.
What Can Gutters Do That My Roof Can’t Do?
The short answer is that gutters and downspouts can divert rainwater away from your home and direct it to your home’s drainage system.
Why Is That Important?
Imagine pouring a bucket of water down your roof. Assuming you have a high quality roof installation you will see water run down the shingles and shed off the roof. But where does the water go from there? Much of it will drop to the ground. This seems harmless enough, but when the bucket of water becomes a heavy Lowcountry rain shower, you have water pooling all around the foundation of your home. This water soaks the foundation of your home, and some of it will find its way into your crawl space or concrete floor, and that’s where the trouble begins.
In South Carolina, summer comes with summer showers. And when it comes it can come down hard. Yes, South Carolina gets its fair share of rain. The average annual precipitation in Charleston is 51 inches, Hilton Head 51 inches, and Columbia 46 inches. Regions experiencing heavy rainfall are prone to flooding. Charleston, for example, has 29,000 properties at risk for flooding, which is a whopping 59% of the properties in the city. The best way to protect your home is to have an effective gutter system to move water away from your home. Not having gutters means rainwater will just cascade down your roof to your landscaping, garden, and foundations.
Can Rainwater Really Cause That Much Damage to Justify Making a Sizeable Investment in a Rain Gutter?
The answer is yes. Excess rainwater can damage your house in such a way that having rain gutters is absolutely worth it. Not installing gutters will bring an assortment of problems – the 5 most prevalent can be very expensive to recover from.
Garden Erosion If gardening is one of your passions, or if having nicely landscaped grounds is one of your goals, then rainwater may become an impediment if you don’t have a proper rain gutter system. Garden erosion is caused by excess water running over the soil, removing important layers of nutrients, and eventually turning your garden into a muddy mess. Not having rain gutters contributes to this situation because rainwater streaming from your roof carries enough force to wash away soil faster than just falling rainwater.
Damaged Exteriors During a rainstorm, a lot of water can run down your siding. Chipped or pealed paintwork, damp walls, and disheveled doors and windows are just some of the consequences of excess rainwater freely flowing down your walls. Damp walls should be taken seriously as they can develop mold infestations that may pose a risk for all people and pets occupying a property. Damp walls made of wood can also rot over time putting the property’s structural integrity at risk.
Flooding Basements One of many homeowners’ worst nightmares, and the single most common home problem in America according to the National Flood Insurance Program, is flooded basements. Many factors cause basements to flood like improper lot grading, damaged foundations and problems with the piping. Especially if the foundation is damaged and there isn’t a rain gutter system in place to redirect water away from the property, rainwater will seep through the cracks and other susceptible places leaving your basement a mess. Flooded basements can also lead to foundation damage and will also cause mold and pest infestations. While there aren’t too many lowcountry homes with a basement per se, that simply means that the potential flooding and damage can happen on the ground floor of your home or in the crawl space or beneath the pilings. It would be a mistake to think that simply because you don’t have a basement that you aren’t at risk of damage.
Foundation Damage The big one, you definitely don’t want this to happen to your home because repair costs can be astronomical. Rainwater can burden your house in many different ways and, yes, foundation issues are the most pressing outcome of having a property with no gutters to keep the water at bay. As you know, your foundations support the rest of your property, ensuring its continued stability and the proper alignment of each section of your home. Foundation damage endangers your house as a whole as well as the occupants and the land all around it. The main risk of a gutterless home comes, unsurprisingly, from water drainage. With no gutters to control the flow, there’s nothing impeding the way to your foundation. There are several consequences resulting from rainwater oozing into your foundation, each more dangerous than the last.
- Cracks on your foundation: Too much moisture will hasten the natural decline of your foundation. As a result, they will lose stability to support your home, likely growing uneven and ill fitting.
- Walls and roof damage: This might go from discoloration on your siding’s painting to deeper structural damage. You might start seeing more cracks on your siding and parts of your walls might start swelling up. Meanwhile your roof will take the full force of the damage caused by heavy rains, creating dents in the spaces where your ceilings and walls should connect.
- Leaks: Your walls and ceiling will corrode at a much faster pace after every storm. This will inevitably increase the number of leaks all over your home.
- Pests: Moisture will attract all sorts of insects and rodents towards your foundation. The pools of water left around your home represent an ideal breeding space for mosquitos, rats, bees, bugs, etc. This obviously can create health problems for the people living inside the house. The longer you leave these pests to their own devices, the harder it will be to eradicate them once they start reproducing.
- Foundation damage caused by changes in the soil: The soil around your home will be more subject to shifting due to weather and temperature changes. This will not only increase the risks of soil erosion, but it will also deprive your foundations of their main line of support, possibly causing cracks and issues in your foundation’s alignment.
Decreases Property Lifespan With all the problems water damage can bring, you should think about how this may affect your property after several rainy seasons. Severe water damage can render a property uninhabitable. After all, rotting and cracking foundations aren’t traits of a long-lasting property.
Do Slab Homes Need Gutters?
Many people believe that they do not need gutters installed in their homes if they have a slab foundation. This is because they believe that since there is no basement to protect from water damage there’s simply no need for gutters. There’s nothing that needs protection, it’s just solid ground, right? This is not true at all.
Slab Homes and Rain Gutters
When we talk about slab homes, we refer to houses built on a slab foundation. A slab foundation is meant to sustain a home’s weight and improve a building’s drainage system, while also serving as a sort of cushion that leaves no space below the floor to crawl through. To that end, slab foundations are generally 4” to 6” thick in the center and 24” around the edges. They are generally made of concrete but can be built with other materials in areas prone to freezing temperatures. Since slab foundations are placed directly on the ground and leave no crawl space in between, these types of homes have no basement that could risk flooding during a storm.
So with no basement, do slab homes need gutters? The short answer is an emphatic yes! Rain gutters have many purposes and slab homes are no less vulnerable to damage. A slab foundation on its own will do nothing to prevent flooding, corrosion, soil erosion and other types of structural problems. A proper rain guttering system is the most effective way to protect slab foundations and save you money down the line.
Slab Foundation Issues
Most of the problems you will encounter become evident through cracks in your slab foundation. Foundation damage can occur from any of the following reasons:
- Water eating away the concrete: This is the most obvious cause of cracks in your foundations. The water accumulated during each rainstorm will cause mixture buildup around your foundation and gradually wear it down.
- Soil erosion: One thing that both slab foundations and basements have in common is that they’re both built from the ground level, and the lack of gutters will affect the ground below and around them in equal measure. As more and more water seeps into the soil, the ground will grow softer and less stable. In turn, your foundations will become uneven to the point of causing a potential collapse.
- Expansion and contraction: These issues result from combining the moisture caused by rainwater with high temperatures that are bound to expand your foundations until they crack. While you can’t prevent the temperature variations in your soil, you can keep the dampness away from your foundations by directing the water to a safe area.
Slab foundations provide various benefits in terms of functionality and affordability, but many of their signature qualities are also what makes them so prone to cracking when there is no rain guttering system in place. Rain gutters are the best way to protect your slab foundation and prevent major structural damage.
Rain Gutters Are the Ultimate Solution
There’s a reason why rain gutters have become so popular. Even with moderate rains, the potential damages caused by rainwater remain the same and, depending how old your property is, your foundation might be more prone to deterioration. A professional rain guttering system will catch the rainwater falling around your house, so no water will accumulate on your foundations or seep into your siding. There will be no danger of overflowing or spilling because a proper rain gutter system will be able to sustain the amount of water flowing through, even during cases of intense rainstorms. These are main advantages of installing a rain guttering system:
- Rain gutters will prevent damage to your home. Beyond protecting the concrete slab at the base of your home, your rain gutters will also be beneficial to your walls, doors, windows, fascia, and floors.
- They will prevent water from getting stuck on your roof after each instance of rain.
- Reduced moisture will reduce the possibility of mold and mildew. It will also keep paint from peeling off walls.
- From color to size, rain gutters can be customized to match your home’s structure. On top of adding a visual appeal, this ensures that no water slips between the gutters and the roof.
- Professionally installed gutters are made with the most durable materials to ensure a long lifespan. This way you can keep your home protected from the effects of rainwater from 10+ to 30+ years.
- They can be installed by a professional contractor very quickly, which saves you from potential risks and reduces the chances of improper installation if you attempt a DIY.
- In the event of gutter malfunction, rain gutters are easier to replace when compared to the expenses you would incur from roof or foundation damage.
The problems left by rain storms tend to stay hidden in plain sight until it’s too late to find a solution without spending thousands of dollars in the process. You can secure the best protection for your home with the most durable rain gutters in the Lowcountry. Contact us by calling or filling out a contact form. Our installation specialists will help you secure the perfect rain guttering system to protect your home through decades of storms. Trust Jimmy’s Gutter Services and leave all concerns behind.