Integral Gutters, Yankee Gutters

By
Home Inspector with King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. Home Inspector Lic #207

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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Steven L. Smith

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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.

Aug 28, 2008 02:05 AM #1
Rainer
407,121
Sean Allen
International Financing Solutions - Fort Myers, FL
International Financing Solutions

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

Sean Allen

Aug 28, 2008 02:15 AM #2
Rainer
12,765
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

Aug 28, 2008 02:15 AM #3
Rainmaker
676,636
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!

Aug 28, 2008 02:23 AM #4
Rainmaker
76,269
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.

Aug 28, 2008 03:00 AM #5
Rainmaker
1,235,451
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.

Aug 28, 2008 10:30 AM #6
Rainmaker
922,842
Barbara S. Duncan
RE/MAX Advantage - Searcy, AR
CRS, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR

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

Aug 29, 2008 02:46 AM #7
Rainmaker
1,235,451
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Barbara,

What if I don't want them?

Aug 29, 2008 03:23 AM #8
Rainer
478,183
Not a real person
San Diego, CA

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.

Sep 01, 2008 06:32 PM #9
Anonymous
Linda A. Hawthorne

It is time to replace our roof on our Dutch Colonial house built in the 20's. On the top section of the roof are built-in gutters. How do we replace them without hurting the character and integrity of the house and roof?

Aug 10, 2017 09:21 AM #10
Rainmaker
1,235,451
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Linda, usually they cut them off and put on real gutters. It is not necessarily cheap to do. But if you want to keep it as is, I would make sure the integral gutter areas are covered with one of the new vinyl or TPO membranes that are much better than typical tar paper that I see.

Aug 10, 2017 08:34 PM #11
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Steven L. Smith

Bellingham WA Home Inspector
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