Ok, I’m warming up for a good gutter cleaning again this morning, and I’ve always wondered what good, exactly, do rain gutters do on a house?
The stock answer is “Well, it’s for drainage, see… All the water is bad for the foundation.”
Thinking about it, I don’t think this is really the case at all. Everywhere I’ve lived, the gutters are only on the two sides of the house where the pitch of the roof would guide the water into them. On the other two, the rainwater just falls on the ground right next to the foundation. Clearly there’s no big deal with letting the ground next to the house get wet in principle.
The two sides with the gutters concentrate the water out on the corners. There is much more water here since half the roof’s worth ends up on each side. But the downspout + splashblock only spits it out about as far as the eaves hang over anyway, it doesn’t run off from the house in any magical way once it hits the ground.
So why not just skip the stupid ugly gutters and let it spill over the edge of the eaves? I can’t see that this is any worse; arguably it’s better to distribute the water along the side rather than concentrate it in puddles at the corners.
This randomly selected link is sort of what my house looks like.
Typical single story, slab built. Ours has quite generous eaves - enough to sit under in a chair and enjoy the “rain smell” without getting wet. I measured them just now at 2 feet 6 inches.
So what gives? It can’t be to protect the fascia board and roofing material, there’s no seal where the gutters meet the roof so a little water dribbles in there anyway from surface tension and the occacional “sideways rain” - plus the spikes that hold the gutters on in the first place…
Everybody has them, it seems, and nowhere I can find on the web do people question the justification. What gives? Is there a secret rain gutter cabal? Is it just so fundamental that “everyone knows” they’re necessary?
For what it’s worth I’m in the Seattle area of the US. We get a lot of rain, but seldom is it very heavy.