No gutter system on roof

How To Handle Roof Runoff Without Gutters

Coming home from a long workday, you park in the driveway. While walking towards the front door you start to notice a few water erosion spots in your yard and possibly some water damage to your foundation, caused by the recent rainstorm. The gutters could be clogging or just not allowing the flow of heavy rain quick enough. But, what if you don’t have any gutters, and this same amount of rainfall is just running off the roof and onto your perfectly manicured lawn? The thought now enters your mind. How do I handle my roof runoff without having gutters? Luckily there are many options such as a rain dispersal system, french drains, or even a rain barrel collection system.

Let’s take a look to see what solution best fits the specific problem that you are facing with roof runoff.

Roof runoff broken system.
Roof runoff broken system.

What Is Roof Runoff

Roof runoff can mean a combination of things depending upon which state you live in. For many, this simply means, where does the rainwater goes after it hits your roof? In many cases, it runs down the side of your home. For others, this means, where does the rainwater, snow, or ice go, after it hits your roof.? For the sake of simplicity, let’s consider where the water goes in general.

Roof runoff is simply the water cascading down your roof to the ground below it. It can cause a variety of damages to the foundation and erosion of the home of the soil so it is important to create solutions for this water to travel to if you do not have a gutter system.

Let’s take a look below as to some of those solutions and what might happen if we don’t have one of them.

Rain barrel solution to runoff.
Rain barrel solution to runoff.

Solutions To Handle Roof Runoff Without Gutters

Believe it or not, you do not necessarily need a gutter system to protect the foundation and yard of the home from erosion. There are other ways to divert the water from roof runoff. Let’s take a look at some of those options:

Rain Dispersal System

Rain dispersal systems are typically made of metal edging that can be installed onto various locations under the roof shingles. This allows you to direct the runoff to the areas of the yard most suited to handle the excess water. Not a good idea if you cannot determine the layout of the roof itself. Valleys and slopes in the roof have the potential for allowing water to pool up if it isn’t redirected properly.

Rain Chains

Rain chains are made of copper or aluminum metal and are created to slow down the fall of water so that it is less destructive if it splashes onto your lawn. They come in various designs and can even be directed to a rain barrel. The downside is that they are heavy and difficult to install. The larger the roof the more you will need to consider this as an added solution, not a sole solution.

Re-Grading of the Yard

Rototilling the yard around your home and ensure that the level of the soil drops 1 inch for every 1 foot around the home. This allows you to guarantee that the water will flow away from the home. If it flows towards the home or water pools up, then you have negative grading. This needs to be taken care of right away so make sure the grading is done properly with no low spots.

Ground gutter or French Drain

French drains or ground gutters are created when you dig a trench and install a drainpipe and cover the drainpipe with rock. The rock could be river rock purchased from a local hardware store. When installed properly, ground gutters or french drains require very low maintenance and do a great job keeping the water flowing away from your home. Trenching and making sure that the installed slope of the drain is correct will save you from future water damage.

Drip Edge

These flat sheets of metal sit under your shingles to redirect rainwater away from your house. This is great for ensuring water stays off the sides of your home. It prevents ice dams from forming and reinforces the shingles. The only concern is difficulty installing after the roof is built. If not done properly it could cause water back up into the home.

Drip Path

Spend some time determining how the water flows away from your home. Dig a trench around all sides of your home that’s 18 inches (46 cm) wide and 8 inches (20 cm) deep. Next, fill it with non-woven geotextile fabric. Finally, add crushed stone for an attractive way to collect water. This is an attractive way to keep water moving away from the home once it hits the ground. It is only successful if the yard slope is correct.

Built-in Gutters

Typically, a metal material that is similar to a regular gutter system. These will require less maintenance and blend in with the roof. Unfortunately, many people forget about the maintenance and then have issues with the roof leaking when it rains because of backup. The backup can also lead to future issues. Additionally, they also take a longer time to install. 

Problems If Roof Runoff Is Not Fixed

If the roof runoff issue is not taken care of the following areas are affected:

  1. Plants and grasses will die as they won’t be able to get the oxygen they need to survive.
  2. Mosquitoes love pooling water and will lay eggs, and then you will have another issue on your hands.
  3. Foundation and structural damage including a possible sinkhole may develop.
  4. If water gets into the home then it can lead to mold in the home and on the carpet.
  5. Mold in the basement can form (in houses that have a basement or crawlspace)
  6. Concrete will start to grow mold as the concrete becomes porous and will have the oxygen for mold growth.

When looking at the roof runoff issue, did you notice a crack in the stucco? A homeowner can fix a smaller crack and can get Quikkrete or a small repair kit at the local hardware store and patch it up. 

If the crack in the stucco is bigger than 1/8 inch then you will have a harder time filling in the crack with just Quikkrete. Take an old credit card and see if it fits in the crack. The larger crack will allow moisture intrusion from the water outside and this will lead to a plethora of issues such as mold.

Roof runoff system ideas

Other Maintenance Ideas

While you are working towards a solution to your roof runoff, it is also a great idea to take the time to maintain areas of the roof like the chimney. This is important to check in the summer and fall months. You want to make sure that it is not leaking, missing any shingles, and that the chimney is intact. This is a great roof inspection checklist you can use to start!

In addition, many homes have a roof cricket which is a sloped backing that is built onto the chimney to allow water to run down the roof.  Making sure that this is intact is also vital to your roof runoff solutions. Without it, water would pool on the roof and wear away the shingles and masonry. If your home doesn’t have one, you should be looking at the ceilings in your home to make sure you don’t have water leaking.

Lastly, focusing on your roofing needs is one of the many vital parts of the longevity of your home. You will want to look into the best ways to remove snow from your roof. You wouldn’t want the snow to collect too long and cause damage, in addition to preventing the melted snow from going into your new roof runoff solution.

Poor roof runoff system
Poor roof runoff system.

When Should I Hire A Professional

If you need help with the grading of the yard or are not sure what is causing the water to divert towards the home, contact a professional.  Not to mention, some people are very knowledgeable about how to keep water from intruding. Professional landscapers and licensed roofers are great points of contact. They can provide you with various solutions and ideas to solve your water runoff problems, without necessarily needing a gutter system.


Needing assistance to determine the best solution for your roof runoff issues is completely normal. Not everyone knows the best route to take when creating a solution for their home. Calling a professional landscaper and licensed roofer is a great start. You will also want to consider reaching out to your local home inspection team. Home inspection companies will be able to do a roof inspection as well as a home inspection to ensure that you are made aware of the best solution. Reach out to Colorado Inspection Team can take a look at your roof during a home inspection in Castlerock, CO, and the Front Range areas.

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