Pros and cons of installing gutters

I have an old, 2-story house with a varied roofline (some long expanses, lots of in-and-out corners, big wrap-around porch, etc.) There are no gutters, and when I bought the house I assumed I would need to have them installed. However, I was surprised to learn that many people are very opposed to having gutters on a house. The most common reason I've been given is that they contribute to formation of ice dams. Water from the roof (which is about 4 years old) doesn't seem to run into the crawl space or erode the flower beds that surround the house (which are mulched with river rocks).
Would you more experienced homeowners and roofers discuss what you think are the reasons for and against having gutters installed to help me form a more educated opinion? Thanks in advance!
Jo Ann
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Gutters keep rain water from accumulating near the foundation. If you don't have to worry about this issue, then there is no need for gutters.
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remember that gutters should be cleaned occasionally.
I have an old, 2-story house with a varied roofline (some long expanses, lots of in-and-out corners, big wrap-around porch, etc.) There are no gutters, and when I bought the house I assumed I would need to have them installed. However, I was surprised to learn that many people are very opposed to having gutters on a house. The most common reason I've been given is that they contribute to formation of ice dams. Water from the roof (which is about 4 years old) doesn't seem to run into the crawl space or erode the flower beds that surround the house (which are mulched with river rocks).
Would you more experienced homeowners and roofers discuss what you think are the reasons for and against having gutters installed to help me form a more educated opinion? Thanks in advance!
Jo Ann
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote: <snip>

Gutters, etc. also help to keep rainwater from splashing back (maybe carrying some solids) onto lower part of siding.
AFAICT, ice dams generally result from improperly insulated/ventilated attic. Dependent on location too- latitude and which side of house.
HTH, J
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One house I owned had a front door that did not have good place to stand for protection during a heavy rain. A single section of gutter provided a little protection from getting drenched while trying to get the key into the lock. With this you did not bother with downspouts or end caps so leaves got flushed out and were never a problem.
Charlie
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Again, Ice Dams are a function of the roof system, NOT the gutters. Proper insulation and attic construction techniques will cure that problem. See www.buildingscience.com for more info on roof/attic construction in cold climates.
Gutters carry water away from the foundation, helping to keep basements dry, helping to keep siding dry, helping to keep termites away. Gutters will help prevent mold spotting on sidewalks/concrete.
Downside to gutters is that they need to be cleaned out, annually is a very good practice, even when trees do not overhang the roof. Sand from roofing shingles will fall off and accumulate in the gutters, promoting the rapid deterioration of the gutter. They need to be replaced periodically, 20 years or so is not uncommon.
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I just removed gutter from one side of my cabin to install a new metal roof. The gutter was hanging on that 35' side, and ice dams that stayed all winter were soaking the facia board.
I now am going to make hangers that extend up to the rafter truss ends to support the weight of the gutter and ensuing ice buildup.
My question: I want to put heating strips on the two 35' runs of gutters I am going to install. I don't see any other way except letting the ice dams sit there, and that can be substantial weight hanging there. I am a welder, and can make quality 1" x 1" hanging supports that will drill into the rafters on one side, and the roof beams on the other. They WILL support the weight, but I anticipate that when the gutters get full, it will start melting into the fascia which is what I want to avoid. Not a big problem about leaves, as the gutters are high up where few leaves blow in.
Does anyone here use heat strips in their gutters? Any tips or advice appreciated.
Steve
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Steve B wrote:

Steve, I would recommend re-posting with a new subject line rather than asking where it would be seen as an answer to another poster.
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Steve B wrote:

Your comment is typically called high jacking a thread. Why don't you start a new thread to ask your question?
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Why don't you pay attention, see that I have already been corrected/chastised, and started a separate thread on that exact question?
Have another snort/puff/hit/drink there, Georgie.
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Steve B wrote:

Thanks Stevie,
Most people write comments as they read the messages not when they get through all of them, and I read them in the order they arrive, not by threads.
So sorry, I irritated you, but now you know what hijacking a thread is. A little reinforcement usually helps.
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wrote:

It's not actually the gutters that do that but whatever is at the bottom of the downspouts. Although my house came with 16?" cement troughs to move the water away from the basement wall, the end of one trough near the house keeps sinking into the ground so that the trough tips backwards pouring the water into that corner of the ground. Twice I've had to pile rocks under one end of the cement. Maybe I should use something other than rocks?
Even if the trough tips the right direction, I can imagine soil conditions where much of the water would end up back by the foundation. Does anyone know anything to support or contradict this idea?
I guess I would like to dig a trench and bury some of that 4" black corrugated plastic pipe, to the side of the hill near me to the stream bed, about 25 or 30 feet away. Is it worth the effort?

I think my gutters are plastic. Is that possible? They feel like plastic, although the downspouts are metal.
I was up there a week ago, and I had so much sand from the new roof 2 summers ago that I now understand why they were overflowing in the middle, lengthwise, of the gutter. I thought it was because the gutter sagged in the middle, I don't think so now. There was no sand in the right hand half of the 20 foot gutter, but big piles of it just the left of the middle, maybe half as high as the gutter, enough I think to make surf in heavy rains.
OTOH, the townhouse that adjoins mine, which had a new roof put on the same day I had mine put on, using the same shingles by the same crew, has almost no sand. Figure that out?
He also had a few leaves, but I, who have trees to the rear of my house, like him, but also all along the side of my house and my little townhouse back yard, had no leaves at all. Even though the trees are 50 feet tall and only 15 to 30 feet from a standard two story house. I've wondered about this for a long time, why I have no leaves in the gutters.
One more thing. My deck is 27 years old and I've repaired it a few times and I've been intending to replace it for 4 years now. The actual deck of the deck must have been made from treated wood, because it has been in good condition the whole time.
But since the gutters have been overflowing something different seems to have happened. The second floor of the house overhangs about a foot and and the eaves are about a foot, so the gutters overhang about 2 and a half feet, and that's where the water hits the deck when the gutters overflow. And it was the part of the deck beyond 2 1/2 feet where the wood started to bend up in the middle, to rip out the nails that held it down in the middle, and to crack lengthwise. The wood that is protected by the overhang is still in much better condition.
My recollection is that there was no difference in the condition of the deck before the gutters started to overflow, even counting the part of the 4 foot deep deck that was rained on, that not under the overhang of the second floor or the eaves. It's only one case and my observations may not be perfect, but if overflow from the gutters could damage the wood, so could water off the roof with no gutters.
OTOH, the house isn't new, so he should be able to find such damage if there is any.
They need to be replaced

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Yes, its worth the effort.
--
Jim McLaughlin

Reply address is deliberately munged.
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com says...

Not necessarily. We often get *lots* of snow. Snow tends to build up in the gutters back onto the roof so I don't have gutters on the flat part (shed dormer - 2/12 pitch) of the roof. This backup sometimes happens on the front (9/12 pitch), but not often bad enough to worry about.

Helping, sure. No termites here though (yet).

I have to clean mine twice a year. Maple "helicopters" in the spring and leaves in the fall.
--
Keith

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wrote:

You don't say where you live, how high up you live, and what the weather is like where you live, how much snow, how long until it melts, etc. Is this stuff a secret?

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Upper Midwest, lots of snowfall, lots of freeze and thaw in the early and late months of winter. First snow usually in late October, last snow usually in late March, not unusual to receive snow in April.
Now that it's not a secret, I guess I'm wondering what snowfall has to do with the need for gutters. I'm not worried about ice dams -- just noting that some believe gutters contribute to their formation.
Jo Ann
mm wrote:

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I'm taking a case by case approach, the south side of my 2 story addition dumps onto the roof of the one story portion of the house. It is sort of a T with the ridge of the 2 story E and W while the 1 story is N and S. I need a gutter on the south side of the 2 story to keep from overwhelming the lower roof, but the north side would just be a hazard to clean as no occupant will go up there. So I built a brick walk in the drip area, and this keeps the splash from discoloring the siding and foundation
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Jo Ann:
Think of gutters as a water management equipment. Most of the repair that I've done this season in NE was repairing rotted siding, fascia, house / windows trim. The root cause - no gutters or failed gutters. Consider installing them. Also, consider installing PVC trim, instead of wood.
handyal
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

One of the oldest cogent comments was from either Thomas Jefferson or Benjamin Franklin who said that gutters are stupid (used a bit more erudite speech). The purpose of gutters is to move the water away from the foundations (in modern times to keep water from accumulating next to basement walls) and to keep drips or streams off people. From your description it sounds like you don't have a problem, so why not heed sage advice.
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wrote:

A lot depends on your specific climate and the frequency of rain. If you are getting good drainage, water is not standing, there is no erosion issues, people are not getting dripped on, the foundation is secure, then don't put on gutters. When gutters are needed they can be costly, require periodic maintenance, and protect the house foundation. If you decide to install gutters, run the downspouts 10+ feet away the house.
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