Saturday, July 5, 2014

Rainwater Gutters

Hurricane Arthur - From NOAA Hurricane Center

Now that Hurricane Arthur has blown by us leaving a bunch of rain behind, I thought that this would be a good time to write about the underground rain system that I installed.

Making the Gutter

When it comes to rain water, you have to think of your roof as a large parking lot that collects a boatload of rain. This all has to go somewhere and you don't want it running down the side of your house or along your foundation where it may seep into your basement. This is why they invented gutters.

The gutter folks showed up and after they took all of the measurements they started making the gutters. Because they are made out of aluminum, they start out with a large roll and shape it using a gutter shaper. OK, I don't know what it's really called but it sounds good. While the gutter is being rolled out, they insert the gutter hangers every couple of feet.

Lifting the gutter Into Place


I had them use the downspout hangers that are hidden instead of the strap type. This helped make the downspouts blend in with the trim a little better.

Gutter Corners

One of the nice things that the gutter company did was to wrap the gutters around the corners instead of just ending them. This gave the effect of having crown molding wrapping around the outside of the house.

Trimmed up Nicely

Blending the Downspouts

One of the things that I was a nut about (and there are many) was making sure that the downspouts blended into the house. Too often you'll see the outside trim runied by an ugly downspout. In this picture, of the front of the house, the downspout is not very visible from the road.

Gutter Line

Because we have a pretty good slope, I wanted to take advantage of it and use it to drain all of the water from the downspouts away from the foundation. I started trenching along side the foundation. I only dug down about a foot and half because this will be covered by a garden. 

Also, I'm not worried about freezing because in the winter, rain is called snow and these aren't snow pipes.

Obligatory Large Rock

Of course, no digging would be complete without hitting about a half dozen large rocks. And I've figured out that the weight of the rock is doubled just because I was doing this by myself. And trying work them out of a narrow trench made it even harder.

Laying the Pipe

I used Schedule 35 PVC pipe which is pretty easy to work with and can be cut using a Sawzall or a hack saw if you don't have a Sawzall. Also, it's much lighter and less expensive than Schedule 40 which is used for interior drainlines. I didn't use the black corrigated pipe because it traps particles which can build up and eventually block your pipes. 

I used a level to make sure it pitched downward about 1/8 inch over every foot.

Connecting Downspouts

Connecting the downspouts gave me a chance to be creative when tieing it all together. Kind of like playing with Legos.


Because it's only rainwater and there aren't any solids, angles are a bit more forgiving when draining water.


I put cleanouts at the beginning of each pipe. Having these will make it a lot easier if I ever need to clean out any debris that's blocking the lines.

Running the Downspouts into the Lines

The downspout drops into the line using a cover to block out debris. Also, because the opening is on the side, it enables you to put the pipe close to the foundation. 

Completed Job

Once I was done, there weren't any pipes or anything else showing and all of the water that comes off of the roof is carried away from the foundation.

Pipe Ends

Note in the picture above, the tire marks runing across  the pipe end. This is another good thing about using Schedule 35 pipe. Its flexible and forgiving.

So this is the part that I'll do after the grass starts growing. My intent is to create rain gardens that will allow the water to seep back into the ground while still remaining far away from the house. 

The rainwater drains worked exactly as I had hoped. We had a gazillion inches of rain left behind by Hurrican Arthur and none of it went in the basement.

So our 4th of July was spent watching the rain come down and carry away some of top soil but it was OK. We were also moving things into the house and planning our first night there. So it could rain all it wanted. We didn't care, because our home was now ours.

I hope you had a great 4th of July.


  1. It's great you took the extra time and effort to do this work. It's so smart especially considering the storms you can get on those south facing coasts. The way the downspouts tie in to the house is really nice. Those hangers are really nice.

    I get a lot of water on one side of my house where I have the added water of my neighbors house dumping into my yard and I've considered grading it to crate a water garden so I'll be interested to see what you do.

  2. How cool and it makes it so much neater without the downspouts laying on top of the ground. Our house was originally set up like that but they didn't maintain the pipes and they filled with roots and broke apart (prePVC).

    I thought about you guys during the hurricane. I'm glad it wasn't a direct hit and all you got was rain. We've had some big downpours here lately and the Great Lakes are actually on the rise. Yea!!!!

    Must be very exciting to finally move in. I can't wait to see how you decorate that gorgeous house.

  3. your drain system looks great and I love wrapping the gutters around the corners - excellent idea. our lot slopes diagonally from back left to front right, so I am able to channel run off to the planted gardens using swales to direct it and ground cover to slow it down - not really a rain garden, just working with what we have.

    so glad you are getting moved in. know you're gonna love it!

  4. This is a novel idea that you had worked out. Making your house storm-proof should be a priority, as long as the risks are high. You even made the gutters blend in with your house, which was a nice touch. I'm sure other people in your neighborhood had problems when the hurricane came along, and they might even take some pointers from what you did afterwards. Anyway, thanks for sharing, and good luck with your future storm-proofing projects!

    Sharon Strock @ Storm Chamber