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I saw the strangest thing in northern New York State in an area that gets a lot of snow.

Gutters were installed on top of the roof, maybe over the 4th or 5th row of shingles up from the bottom.

This couldn't possibly be up to code or even a good idea could it?

enter image description here

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    Perhaps what you saw were not gutters but snow guards,devices that stop the snow from sliding off of the roof onto walkways. – Alaska Man Jan 17 at 23:25
  • @AlaskaMan Make this an answer and I’d upvote it. – Lee Sam Jan 17 at 23:33
  • Definitely sounds like snow guards. If you saw this as a one-off occurrence on a ramshackle cottage, maybe it was a gutter. But it would serve no legitimate purpose. – daneb Jan 18 at 0:58
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    @AlaskaMan Pretty sure they were gutters. There were no gutters elsewhere and the were downspouts connected to them. I added a picture. – OrganicLawnDIY Jan 18 at 1:21
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Sometimes the stars align and answers are provided.

After i posted my comment this morning I was watching a previous episode of This old house in which they are restoring a New England Victorian house that is regulated by the local historic commission. One of the requirements needed to be met was the restoration of the Yankee Gutters.

A web search led me to oldhouseguy.com where i found an article about gutters of all kinds including Yankee gutters for old houses.

More about Yankee Gutters at InspectAPedia.

More than you want to know about the history of gutters.

credit oldhouseguy.com Credit oldhouseguy.com

enter image description here

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  • Ha! Just watched that episode myself. It's not that old an episode, just a couple of weeks ago. As a matter of fact, one can watch it right here. – FreeMan Jan 18 at 12:44
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What a great photo! Well done. It has a downspout, so it is a gutter. And look at the adjoining building. The gutter there has a downspout that connects to the funky midroof gutter.

Here is my guess. The gutter was installed by a person much like myself - aware of the fact that water runs downhill and unconstrained by any gutter customs. Needing to have the gutter slope towards the middle of the house where the downspout is (and probably a sewer access, so unmoveable) the gutter starts high enough on the roof that it was easy to get the gutter to slope down towards the center.

The sewer access is the only one around, which is why the adjoining building needs to drain its own gutter into this one.

You will see that my doppelganger in Buffalo has also installed a charming gutter and downspout just for the cover over the front door. Possibly the cover was catching runoff from the roof where the roof gutter was high up and missed it. There is a little green and white wall around the top edge of the door cover to keep the water from going off the front and landing on the steps and freezing.

I love this guy. Dad, is that you?

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  • It's like that on both roofs. There houses next door have similar installations on their roofs. – OrganicLawnDIY Jan 18 at 5:37
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    This isn't some DIY hack by someone who didn't have a clue. This is a "Yankee Gutter" and was commonly installed in the 1800's in the Northeast US. See Alaska Man's answer. – FreeMan Jan 18 at 12:46

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