Does My Roof Need Gutters?

Rain gutters can be a hassle and a pain to maintain, as any homeowner who has spent a grueling weekend cleaning them out can tell you. So it’s not surprising that some homeowners wonder if rain gutters are really necessary.

To understand the answer and some potential alternatives, it’s important to first understand the purpose of gutters and why their job is so important.


The whole point of rain gutters is to direct water away from your house and its foundation. Here in the Lowcountry, we can get a generous amount of rain, not to mention the occasional hurricane. Properly installed, cleaned and well-maintained, rain gutters direct water away to prevent all kinds of expensive and dangerous water damage. If your foundation suffers water damage, for example, it can cause dangerous stability issues for your entire home. It’s very costly and even hazardous to repair.

In addition, rain gutters can direct water away from places around your home that could erode the soil and cause lower level and yard flooding. Functional gutters can also extend the life of your roof and siding by keeping water away from them.

If gutters are allowed to become clogged with leaves, birds’ nests, or other debris, their ability to keep water flowing away from your home decreases, which can increase the risk of all these problems you would likely rather avoid. So, if you don’t have gutters on your home, you had better have some other system for guiding water away from your home to prevent foundation damage, wood rot, and other types of water damage issues and flooding that could occur.


Does that mean that your house must have rain gutters? That depends. There are some other systems that guide water away from your home and foundation without gutters, with varying degrees of success, expense, and maintenance. In any case, your home does need some method for keeping the water draining away.

Some people then ask, “Why is it that some homes seem to get along fine without rain gutters?”

Sometimes, homes situated on hills that slope away from the house can get away without gutters because the landscape directs water away on its own. Also, in drier areas of the country where rain isn’t as much of an issue as it is here in Hilton Head and Bluffton, people may not have gutters. Of course, a regular home inspection would be needed to ensure that these homes still did not have some form of water damage occurring without the gutters. Homes surrounded by concrete sometimes have success without rain gutters as well, but to varying degrees.

Living here in the Lowcountry, however, we do get a lot of rain. So, whether you are building a new home or renovating an older one, it’s a critical matter to direct the inevitable rain away from your home. In the vast majority of cases, this means installing and maintaining rain gutters.


Because rain gutters can be a hassle to maintain, a lot of homeowners want to know if there are easier ways to direct water away from the house. Often, an extended roof can also help direct water away from the home as long as there is good drainage and grading around the home as well.

The following solutions can work in some situations, but it largely depends on how much money you want to spend and whether or not the solution will work on your home without significant remodeling:

1. Rain Chains

For areas without a lot of rain (not the Lowcountry), rain chains come in a wide variety of designs. They attach to the roof and guide water away from the foundation and slow the momentum of the water so that it’s less damaging to the landscape around it. They can be very heavy, however, and depending on the size of your roof, you may need so many of them that they become a burden on the roof and become a distraction from the aesthetic of your home.

2. Grading

If you are just building your home, selecting a spot on a rise is a good idea. That way, water naturally runs down the slope of the grade away from your home. It may not be enough here in Hilton Head, however, what with the sheer amount of water we can get in a typical coastal storm. Also, if you already live in a home without a reasonable slope away from the home, creating a grade can ruin your landscaping.

3. Rain Dispersal Systems

A rain dispersal system involves installing “louvres” on your roof that split the water into several channels that fall away from your house as a finer mist over your landscape instead of a concentrated stream. They don’t collect leaves or large debris, so they don’t usually need to be cleaned. Rain dispersal systems still require ground gutters to catch water and lead it away from the house, and some roofs have shapes that are incompatible or difficult to fit with these systems.

4.Ground Gutters

Also called French drains, these can be added inconspicuously within your landscape to drain water away from your foundation. They can be expensive and complicated to install within an existing landscape, however.

5. Drip Edges

These pieces of aluminum flashing are installed all around the eave edges of a roof to protect the roof from water, and they can direct water away from the home as well. Drip edges can be one aspect of an overall roof and home water-protection system.


Although there are alternatives to rain gutters, they still generally provide the best protection against water getting into your home and foundation here in the Lowcountry.

For rain gutter installation, maintenance, cleaning, and any roof repairs or upgrades, contact BB Roofing in Bluffton, and protect your home from water damage.

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