Integral Gutters, Yankee Gutters

By
Home Inspector with King of the House Home Inspection, Inc

Integral gutters go by different names. Yankee gutters is probably the best known of the terms, although in my area I also hear them called Dutch gutters.

The photo below gives a good example of what they look like. 

Unfortunately, this photo also shows a common problem with them -- all clogged. These gutters, often nothing more than a curl in the eave with tar paper as a membrane, can be real problems. At some installations, the gutter is right above the wall of the home -- not out at the edge like with a normal gutter. When they get full, or leak for any other reason, that leads to water going down into the soffit, the wall or adjacent structure. The photo below is structural damage caused by rot around an overflowing integral gutter, same property shown above.

 I would like to say that this is uncommon. Problem is, I almost always find damage, in varying degrees, when I find integral gutters. They might be fine in areas with light rain but they sure are not ideal in the Pacific NorthWET. A common repair, that makes sense, is to modify the roof and put in standard gutters that still require cleaning, but they keep leakage and water farther away from key parts of the home.

 

Steven L. Smith

Bellingham WA Home Inspections

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Show All Comments
Ambassador
1,069,799
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Steve, I SO agree with you on this.  Integral gutters are, sooner or later, like putting little swimming pools or bird baths on your roof and are very difficult to maintain and keep from damaging the roof structure.  They are almost always lined with materials that don't last as long as the roofing materials that laps over them.

August 28, 2008 09:05 AM #1
Rainer
406,157
Sean Allen
International Financing Solutions - Fort Myers, FL
International Financing Solutions

hhhmmm, most houses down here don't have gutters.

Sean Allen

August 28, 2008 09:15 AM #2
Rainer
11,315
Lynda Bloom
Weichert, Realtors - Rockville, MD

Wow, the damage in that photo is scary.  I love having home inspectors on AR!

Lynda K. Bloom, Selling Rockville Maryland Real Estate and Surrounding Areas

August 28, 2008 09:15 AM #3
Rainmaker
578,916
Robert Rauf
HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ) - Toms River, NJ

Wood and water just do not mix well! Looks pretty for the first year, then it becomes a nightmare!

August 28, 2008 09:23 AM #4
Rainmaker
76,119
Randall Schrader
Competitive Insurance of Dundee - Dundee, FL

Plus the weight of the water is something to think about.  What a silly design.  They need a screen on top, at the very least.

August 28, 2008 10:00 AM #5
Rainmaker
1,178,387
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Integral gutters are a silly design. They are probably worse than zero gutters, which is not great in a wert area either.

August 28, 2008 05:30 PM #6
Rainmaker
714,012
Barbara S. Duncan
RE/MAX Advantage - Searcy, AR
CRS, GRI, e-PRO, Searcy AR

Never heard of those gutters here but your pictures show them nicely.  We'll just let you keep them.

August 29, 2008 09:46 AM #7
Rainmaker
1,178,387
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Barbara,

What if I don't want them?

August 29, 2008 10:23 AM #8
Anonymous
Anonymous
Anonymous

The coolest gutters I ever saw were the wood gutters at the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California. Of course, everything else about the house was a home inspector's nightmare: stairs to nowhere, windows in the floor, etc. Well worth a trip to San Jose just to spend the day at the WMH.

September 02, 2008 01:32 AM #9
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Rainmaker
1,178,387

Steven L. Smith

Bellingham WA Home Inspector
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