Gutters are essential if you intend harvesting rainwater from your rooftop and directing it to water tanks. The guidelines below explain how to replace existing gutters with new ones but they can also be used as a guide for installing gutters from scratch, where no gutters existed before. A diversion off the downpipes will need to be installed in order to divert the rainwater to your rain water tanks.
When it comes to restoration and fix-it tasks around the home, a commonly overlooked and yet often necessary replacement is the household gutters. Frequently neglected, gutters can rust and corrode from plant debris, and sometimes the damage done is so extensive that it is easier to simply replace rather than repair them. Sound like too complicated a task? Just follow these easy, step-by-step instructions on how to replace your household storm gutters.
Before you make any gutter purchases, make a map of your home, and of the current gutter system that is installed. Determine the length of the gutter run, how many downspouts your system will require, and how long those downspouts will need to be. If your old gutter system worked well, you may find it easiest to simply copy that exact system and replace it with a new one, keeping the old downspouts in the same area, etc. Write out all of your measurements and needed items, prior to leaving for the local hardware store.
If your gutter run is 35 feet or less, the highest point of your run is going to be at one end, sloping downwards to the downspout. Make high point an inch down from the top of the fascia (this is the board that the gutters are attached to). The slope should ideally be 1/4-inch for every 10 feet of gutter run.
If the run is more than 35 feet in length, make the high point at the center of the run, with slopes leading to the downspouts on either side. Once again, set the high point an inch down from the top of the fascia and the slopes should be graded with a 1/4-inch slope for every 10 feet. Having someone hold one end of the gutter, hold the other at the appropriate angle and snap a chalk like so that you will have a guide to follow when you go to put up the new gutters.
Using 1 1/4-inch deck screws, attach your downspout outlets even with the chalk line. Attach them at the end of the house, these outlets will be close to but not at the extreme end of the run (remember that the roof extends out over the house). Ensure that these are firmly attached and then move on to the next step.
Attach the gutter hangers to the fascia every 24 inches, using the 1 1/4-inch deck screws. Fastened about 1 inch away from the ends of the roof, these hangers offer the gutters a form of support. Make sure to leave room at the ends of the supports for the gutter caps and ensure that you follow the chalk line, to maintain the proper drainage.
If your corners don’t have a downspout and aren’t located at the end of the run, cover these joints with gutter covers. These prevent water from leaking out where it should not, preventing unnecessary damage and prolonging the life of your gutters.
Using a hacksaw, carefully cut your gutter sections so they fit between the downspout outlet and the end of your roof. Put the cap over the end and snap the section into the outlet for the downspout, then hook the gutter onto the hangers. Remember that your gutter sections start from the middle of the downspout outlet and be sure to follow your chalk lines.
From the ground, connect your gutter sections. This is a very simple step – using special connectors, these sections will easily match up and then will just snap into the gutter sections. Fit the gutters into the gutter hangers. For best results, have someone to help you support the gutters as you hang them.
For your downspouts, cut a piece of drainpipe to fit between the downspout elbow joint on the outlet and the one on the wall. Put the elbows on the pipe, then snap it onto the outlet. Using a drainpipe hanger, be sure to secure the other elbow onto the wall. Then cut another piece of drainpipe to fit between the wall elbow and hang down to approximately 1 foot above the ground. Snap the drain pipe into the wall and then attach another new elbow joint down by the ground. Fasten a hanger for your drain pipe here and, after cutting an appropriate length of pipe, attach it to this joint to funnel the water away from the side of your home (this piece may be as long or as short as you would like).
For best results and for safety’s sake, it’s always best to have someone work with you. In fact, the light weight materials make this a good family project that can be accomplished over a weekend.
When it comes to rainwater harvesting, just as essential as gutters are water tanks. It is important to purchase water tanks of good quality and which are rated for storing potable water for human consumption. In South Africa we recommend polyethylene storage tanks made by JoJo Tanks; click on the links below for more information.
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Live in the USA and need rainwater harvesting equipment? Click HERE!