What You Should Know About Gutter Placement on Steep Roofs

What You Should Know About Gutter Placement on Steep Roofs

You might think that steep roofs would be excellent for preventing moisture problems in a structure. They quickly divert rainfall and don’t encourage pooling. While there are many benefits to a steep roof, this architectural feature can overwhelm your gutters. Therefore, it’s important to understand gutter placement on steep roofs. In addition to their positioning, the size and quality of the gutters make a difference.

Benefits of Steep Roofs

Steep roofs have their advantages. They look impressive and add charm to your home. One of the reasons that they’re so attractive is that they don’t attract debris. Everything slides easily off of a steep pitch, and your roof will always have its best face forward.

With a steep roof, your home has plenty of attic space. This can provide extra storage for you and your family.

It also helps with ventilation. Combined with the fact that the roof is unlikely to collect water, its airy interior reduces the risk of moisture problems in the roof and ceilings.

A steep incline also allows snow to fall off of the roof. Therefore, you’re less likely to deal with ice dams and moisture problems in the winter.

Disadvantages of Steep Roofs

Although steep roofs have advantages for property owners in areas with high rainfall, tall trees near the home and abundant snowfall, they have some downsides. However, many of the disadvantages of steep roofs can be solved with proper gutter placement.

Fast and Heavy Water Flow

When the roof is getting pelted with rain, it does a great job of diverting it toward the ground. In fact, water flows quickly and heavily off of steep roofs. Without gutters, you might feel like you’re taking a shower if you stand under the eaves in a storm. 

The rushing water can erode the foundation of your home, carving a trench around the perimeter of the structure. This allows water to pool around the building, which can create moisture problems in the basement and compromise the foundation.

Clogged Gutters

As the rain and wind sweep leaves, dirt and branches off of  your roof, the debris ends up in your gutters. In fact, one storm can fill up your gutters with organic material faster than you can imagine. This can cause frequent clogging if you don’t have the right gutter placement on steep roofs.

Clogged gutters prevent water from flowing freely. If your gutters are clogged, you lose most of the benefits of a steep roof. Water will begin to pool, especially around the eaves. You could experience moisture problems inside the home. In the winter, water can freeze in clogged gutters, causing them to crack or sag. Frozen gutters also increase the risk that snow and ice will damage your home’s structure.

Difficult to Walk On

Unless you’re a licensed and insured professional roofer, you should never attempt to walk on a steeply pitched roof. But if you can’t walk on your roof, you may not be able to inspect it as frequently as you’d like. 

Hire a professional to inspect and clean your gutters at least twice a year. You may be able to tackle this job from below using a tall ladder. If you take on the task, follow safety precautions. Use a stabilizer on your ladder to keep it securely in place without damaging the gutter.

Considerations When Installing Gutters on Steep Roofs

Because they’re less likely to accumulate debris and moisture, steep roofs often have a longer lifespan than flat ones. Here are some considerations for gutter placement on steep roofs to maximize their protective qualities.

Add Extra Downspouts

Because the water flows so quickly down a steep roof, the torrents can quickly overwhelm the gutters. Place enough downspouts to handle the volume and speed of the rain flow. If water can’t escape quickly enough, it can create puddles beneath the gutters or fill them up, creating soft rot in the eaves.

Use Large Enough Gutters

Standard 5-inch gutters may not be wide enough for a pitched roof. Upgrade to 6-inch box gutters for the extra steep areas. These can handle up to 40% more runoff than 5-inch gutters and accommodate larger downspouts.

Bigger box gutters are also essential if your steep roof pushes a lot of debris to the bottom. These larger variations are less likely to clog. You might not be able to find the larger gutter sizes at the hardware store, but a professional should be able to custom make them for you.

Avoid half-round gutters for steep roofs that see heavy downfalls. These don’t hold as much water as K-style or box gutters. Large gutters are especially important for steep metal roofs, which move water particularly quickly.

Think About Roof Valleys

Valleys where two steep roof pitches come together transfer a great deal of water. In heavy storms, the rainflow down a valley can overshoot the gutter. 

Avoid this by adding an L-shaped deflector at the end of the valley. This will divert the flow of rain into the gutter. For especially long, steep valleys, add additional deflectors to its length. These will slow the water as it careens down the valley, giving it time to end up safely in the gutter.

You should also verify that your roof underlayment is installed properly near a steep valley. The water flow from one pitch to the other could creep under the shingles. If the waterproof underlayment doesn’t extend far enough, the porous roofing materials can get wet.

Signs That the Gutter Placement on a Steep Roof is Inadequate

Do you have the right gutters for your steep roof? Hire a professional to inspect the roof and gutters if you experience the following problems:

  • A trench forms around the foundation
  • Soil near the home becomes thinner over time
  • Your yard begins to dip near the perimeter of the building
  • Your landscaping is getting wiped out
  • Grass doesn’t grow well or grows too abundantly near the house
  • Mold or mildew is growing around the foundation
  • Flooding in the basement
  • Grass and soil are stuck to your siding from the aftersplash


Here are some common questions about gutter placement on steep roofs.

Will snow and ice rip them off in the winter? 

If you have a steep roof, you probably won’t get much heavy snow accumulating around the gutters. However, pay attention to areas around dormers or with multiple angles and valleys. These can trap snow and ice. But the frozen precipitation here shouldn’t affect your gutters.

If your gutters are clogged, however, they can fill up with rain and melted snow. As this refreezes, it can pull the gutters off of your home.

Do you need a gutter on an A-frame house?

If your A-frame roof meets the ground, you may need a non-traditional drainage system that consists of in-ground gutters. However, some A-frame structures have elevated roofs. In this case, you should consult a professional about the proper gutter size and placement.

Do gutter guards work on steep roofs?

Gutter guards stop debris from collecting inside the gutter. They act as screens, allowing water to flow where it’s supposed to while preventing clogs. Most gutter guards work well with steep inclines. In fact, the heavy rain flow should push the debris free of the gutter guards completely, leaving them clean and looking nice.

If you have questions about gutter placement on steep roofs, contact us. We offer free estimates and plenty of experience protecting homes with this impressive architectural detail.

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