Conventional wisdom dictates that a well-built home would include a gutter system to divert rain from the house. But in Southern California, the dry climate of cities like Los Angeles can make homeowners wonder if they need rain gutters. The purpose of a gutter and downspout system is to channel rainwater that falls on the roof away from the foundation. If a home is surrounded by patios, sidewalks, or concrete entrances that lean away from the foundation, a gutter system really isn't necessary.
Most homes in Southern California have aluminum or galvanized gutters that have been installed in sections or without problems. Both are reputed to be portable, and a practical owner can install sectional gutters with some common tools. As with vinyl gutters, the weak points of aluminum or galvanized sectional gutters are the joints, which can leak or bend if improperly installed. Because we live in such a dry climate, people don't usually think of gutters as a major concern that necessarily needs attention.
This is far from being the case. In fact, because of the extremely dry climates here in SoCal, especially in light of the conditions experienced during prolonged droughts, gutters often require even more attention than in wetter areas. Most homes here don't have basements, most areas don't have to worry about having enough water to damage eaves or foundations, and many homeowners simply don't see the point of investing in a gutter system when it rarely rains. While it's true that you'll more often see high-end homes with gutter systems than without them, even some newer, more exclusive homes don't have gutters.
One of the most common mistakes homeowners make when installing their own gutters is not leaving enough “incline”, the angle at which the gutter points to the downspout. Another practical use of a gutter is to trap water that comes out of a roof over a door and channel it so that rain that falls on the roof doesn't fall on your head when you enter or leave the house. When installing a gutter system, it is imperative to ensure that it is done correctly so that, when the rain finally arrives, your home is properly protected. Occasionally, if gutters aren't cleaned regularly, leaves and debris build up and trap water and, over time, the bottom of a metal gutter rusts.
However, just because you don't need a roof gutter system most days in Southern California, you may want to consider installing one if your home doesn't currently have gutters. In many parts of the country, rain gutters are essential and are essential for keeping water out of basements and preventing damage to homes. An important general rule regarding rain gutters is to “do it right or not do it at all”.