A rain gutter’s main purpose is to funnel water off the roof and away from the home. Too much water falling too close to your home can erode the soil around it, compromise the home’s foundation and wreak havoc if you have a basement.
Additionally, if your roof doesn’t have enough clearance, rainwater that drips directly off your roof can potentially find its way into your home through doors and windows. Rain gutters collect the water and direct it to the downspout, allowing gravity to do its job by letting it flow harmlessly away.
But rain gutters also have their downsides. Branches, leaves and other droppings from overhead trees can clog the gutters, even if you have gutter guards, and cleaning rain gutters can be a colossal time-consumer. Gutters should be cleaned once or twice a year (more often if you’re in a heavily wooded area).
And if you live in a colder climate, debris in the rain gutter can freeze. This extra weight can potentially cause serious damage to the gutters and exterior walls.
Another potential downside of rain gutters is the noise. If the gutter isn’t totally clear, water can trickle its way through the debris and drip incessantly throughout the night while rain falls.
So, if you’re looking to improve on the look and functionality of your rain gutters, you have plenty of options.
Rain chain: This current trend allows you to keep the functional rain gutter, while swapping the downspout for something more decorative. The look and sound of a rain chain is a huge upgrade.
Rain barrel: This balances form and function, and does its part to preserve rainwater. The rain barrel (which works with a downspout or rain chain) collects the water, which can then be dispersed to a garden bed or stored for later use anywhere around the outside of the home.
Eliminate rain gutters: Or, just 86 them altogether. If you wonder whether this is a viable option, consider that many new homes are built without them, and that including them on homes is, to some extent, a regional thing.
Homes in the arid and dry Southwest can lack rain gutters completely, and homes in the Northeast and other areas where sub-freezing temperatures are an annual thing don’t have them due to snow and ice buildup.