Introduction: Rain Gutters That Don't Clog
Common ¢ents #1 - rain gutters
1) Making the gutter: Living in the woods where leaves and branches clog rain gutters caused me to try (and fail a few times) to discover a solution to the problem. Finally, I came upon the idea to use 10' sections of thin walled S&D pipe glued together as a substitute for the common endless aluminum gutter which is too small to accomodate heavy rains and nearly impossible to clean because the supports go across the top of the gutter. So using PVC cement, I glued 2 - 10' sections of 6" S&D pipe together, then struck two lines along the sides using a chalk line, then cut the pipe in half with a fine toothed circular saw blade set at a very shallow depth so as not to break the pipe which gave me two 20' sections of pipe. Then, I glued these two sections together using Vice-Grip pliers to hold them secure so the glue could do its work. After the sections were securely glued tight, I removed the pliers and then I painted the S&D pipe on the outside with house paint.
2) Making the gutter supports: This depends upon the building upon which the gutter is to be placed. If you don't want to manufacture your own gutter supports, ready made ones are available. Just search 'half round gutter supports' where you will find many varieties available.
a) Building with exposed rafters: (3rd photo) I made gutter supports from 2' long sections of 2"x 8" treated lumber by sawing a half-moon shaped opening to accomodate the S&D pipe in one end skewing it slightly to accomodate the slope of the roof so the gutter would sit level in its cradle. I left 1" on the outside of the support beyond the cutout to make it stronger at that point. I then struck a chalk line along the edge of the rafters sloping toward the end (at least 1/4" per 10' run is the recommendation but I use 1/2" per 10' run or 1" every 20'). I then attached the supports to the sides of the rafters of the outbuilding with two lag screws. I then had a friend on another ladder help me walk the gutter to the edge of the roof and lay it in place inside the supports. The gutter's inner edge MUST extend about an inch under the roofline to catch the drip from the edge of the roof. I use this gutter to collect rainwater in a 300 gallon tank that I use: to fill a 55 gal. drum to supply a summer outdoor shower; to fill my hot tub and to fill a second tank at my cabin where I use a handpump to draw water - handy when the electricity is off.
b) Building with a fascia board: (1st photo) In this case, the supports are made identical to 2a) but the length depends on the distance from the fascia board to the dripline. When that is determined, I attached the supports on 2' centers to a 1" x 8" x 10' piece of treated lumber with PL construction cement and from the back of the board, I secured the supports with weather resistant drywall screws. I used an extension ladder and struck a chalk line from the center of the run (I wanted the water to flow out both ends) to each end sloping 1/2" per 10' run or 1" to each end since the run was 20' each way. Then, a friend helped me lift the 10' sections of gutter supports which we matched to the chalk line and attached to the fascia board using lag screws. After attaching all four sections, we carefully lifted the pre-glued and pre-painted S&D gutter and laid it into its supports. There is enought flex in the plastic pipe so it can easily slope both directions. I allowed the gutter to extend two feet beyond the roof at both ends so the splash wouldn't hit my house.
3) Making the cleanout tool: Then I made a 'gutter cleanout tool' taking one of the cut-out half-moon pieces, trimming it 3/4" along the outside edge so it would fit comfortably inside the newly placed gutter and then I attached it to another half-moon piece (looks like an 'S' when put together) with a notch cut in it so the first piece can fit snugly inside the gutter. I then drilled a hole in the end of this piece a tiny bit less than the diameter of the screw end of the extension pole. This was then attached to the end of an 8' extension pole (extends to 15' when I use it) which will easily reach the second storey of my house by applying PL adhesive in the hole and then snugly fitting the tool onto the extension pole. Be careful and don't break the tool here. The top of the 'S' fits horizontally into the gutter and the bottom of the 'S' attaches to the pole allowing a standoff distance between the pole and the gutter. You see a strap in the photo - that was applied years later because I tried to push too great a load to the end of the gutter and the wood broke so the repair was glue and a strap
4) Cleaning the gutter: Periodically, I extend the pole with the cleanout tool on the end and after placing the cleanout tool in the gutter, I walk along below and clean the leaves and branches that collect there moving them to the open ends and allowing them to fall to the ground. In the Autumn when the leaves fall from the trees and when acorns fall from the oaks, I do this every few days; in the Winter, every few weeks; in the Spring every week when the oak and maple flowers fall from the trees. Cleaning usually takes less than 2 minutes. After a storm or when the gutter may be filled with small branches that fall into the gutter or in Autumn when it might be filled with hundreds of wet acorns or wet mounds of leaves or in the Spring when it might be filled with wet mats of oak / maple flowers, it might take 10 minutes to clean and then Iclean it in sections starting at the ends and working back toward the middle.
5) Result: The gutter never runs over, will accomodate a cloudburst, never stops up and allows cleaning without the use of a ladder. The 2" x 8" supports are strong enough to allow the gutter to fill with ice in the winter and not break.
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