Gutters: are they necessary?
Roof gutters and downspouts(down pipes) are usually seen on government and corporate buildings and rarely on residential homes in Zimbabwe. And for most gutters are usually seen as an extra unnecessary expense by most. So why gutters?
Essentially if you a) live in an area with high rainfall b) haven’t specifically designed your roof to have a wide overhang to deposit water further away from foundation c) want your building to last for a very long time, you will benefit from having gutters.
Benefits of Gutters.
Properly installed and maintained gutters are essential to protecting your property from rainwater in several ways
Prevent Foundation Saturation
Gutters capture and downpipes divert water which otherwise would have pooled close to the building. Excess water can cause foundations to settle, causing cracks in walls and chimneys. Also excess humidity due to moisture seeping in from foundation will cause mold problems which can cause respiratory problems.
Water flowing off roofs will cause erosion of your landscape with every rainfall this can damage your turf/lawn. Even if you have added a pavement, especially concrete pavements around your building, water coming of the roof can damage your pavement over time leaving holes in it and causing green discolouration from algae.
Protects your Siding
Siding is the protective material on the outside of your wall be it pain, plaster, rough cast etc. Rainwater coming off roofs and the excessive splash of it falling on the ground will cause your siding to discolour. This will make your building look old and dreary in record time. More importantly trying to fix the damage costs money.
As a bonus you could collect the water from gutters to be used later as have been done by some schools for non-potable use.
Things to consider
If you wish to opt for gutters you should get a reputable and experienced company/handyman to install them and be prepared to see that they are maintained and cleaned yearly before the rains. Blocked gutters and down pipes will cause water to pool in them causing them to sag,tear off their supports and spill water leading to worse problems than not having gutters at all.
Water from downpipes comes out at a high speed so it is necessary to install extensions or Splash blocks to dissipate the energy without causing damage.
If you cannot afford gutters or otherwise don’t like them remember to opt for a roof with a wide overhang, invest in a pavement that’s not susceptible to damage and design proper drainage to protect your building.