gutter water distribution

madscientistMarch 14, 2004

I posted this a couple of weeks ago on the 'drought' forum at gardenweb, but haven't gotten any response. While it's not 'energy' related, I'm hoping that the resource conservation gurus here will have some ideas.

I have an area on the west side of my house under very deep eaves, so gets virtually no natural water. Does anyone have a decent gutter water distribution system that they can share photos and/or specifications on? I'm thinking that I can run plastic gutter pipe down the house to almost ground level, then run more pipe along the house, sloping gently. This run of gutter pipe (square) would somehow be capped at the end and have drilled perforations along the run for water to exit. I could then put in low shrubs or other foundation plantings and have this area as a bed.

My desire to do this springs from 1) the water that comes off the house on that side isn't currently doing anything but digging holes in the new gramma lawn and 2) any foundation plantings under the eaves would need substantial supplimental water. So basically, I just want to channel the water to where it is useful.

Any help with the design, particularly photos of a non-catchment distribution system, would be appreciated! Links to websites and/or companies and/or someones individual creation are all welcome.

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You could get a 55 gal plastic barrel and have the downspout fill it up and put a hose tap on it and run the water out that way. or if you really wanted to go hi tech, a sump pump in the barrel hooked to a hose and have it turn off with a float switch. Then you rig a section of PVC pipe with holes in it to drip water on the plants. (seen that in the wordless workshop in a recent issue of Family Handyman)

    Bookmark   March 20, 2004 at 4:42PM
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What do you mean by a "non-catchment distibution system?" Something I've been planning in the future is to hook up some drip irrigation type hose to my rain barrel. The rain barrel is "sandstone" colored, and blends nicely with the brick and concrete foundation. I keep it on the back of the house, but plan on adding more to the downspouts on the sides as well. I plan on hooking up a regular hose, and burying it under the mulch, until the point where the water is needed, where I'll attach the type of hose that "sweats." It can be turned "on" when needed. This prevents overwatering too close to the foundation, which can lead to water penetration through the foundation. I have experienced foundation leaks first hand, as our gutters used to be emptying near the foundation until we redirected them. You may not like those dry areas created by the overhangs, but, tread carefully, because you'll really hate two inches of water in your basement everytime it rains. The rain barrels have an overflow, which I direct away from the foundation via a piece of gutter downspout. I think the system above is a good idea, because you can turn it on and walk away and forget it, and the rainbarrel only holds 50 gallons, whereas, if you direct your gutters towards your foundation, you may be pouring hundreds of gallons on your foundation during one rainstorm. Yikes!

    Bookmark   March 22, 2004 at 10:47PM
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I'm trying avoid the rain barrel thing. I've already got one on the other (east) side of the house that captures the bulk of the rainwater. I have a choice of either diverting water from the west side to the east side rain barrel or directly diverting the water to the west side foundation plantings. In my arid climate (Northern New Mexico), very little water actually makes it down far enough to put water into the house. That may become a problem if I don't do something about re-routing before the late summer rains, because it's now just pouring onto a single spot at the end of the run (no downspout). But I think that if I divert and can spread it out along the 15 ft. or so of foundation plantings, I won't get enough water in one place to seep into the basement. Ideally, I would be able to adjust where the water diverts to in case we have a really wet spell. But yes, you're right. I don't want to create a problem like that!!

It's already difficult for me to utilize the water in the rainbarrel, because the property slopes up away from the house, limiting the area within static pressure. But at least it does have an overflow hose that can be directed out to the garden.

Thanks for the input.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2004 at 9:21AM
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Far be it from me to offer advice to a mad scientist, but ...

... around here they sometimes have thin plastic tubes with perforations that one attaches to the bottom of the downspout.

One rolls it up and it sits rolled up at the bottom of the downspout, till it rains. The rain pouring from the downspout rolls the tube out into the yard and the water drains away through multiple small holes all along its length - maybe 10' - 15' or so (I've seen pictures, but not one in action).

joyful guy

    Bookmark   March 24, 2004 at 7:35PM
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Joyfulguy, You've hit on EXACTLY the thing that turned my mind in this direction. Do you have any idea of where I can get this 'roll up/roll out' tubing? No one around here even admits such a thing exists, and I've been looking since last year. I KNEW I'd seen pictures! Just a manufacturers name could get me started in the right direction. Please. Please.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2004 at 1:33PM
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not to instil greater madness in your fevered brain, but ...

... about all that I know is what I told you. I've seen illustrations related to selling the items, as I recall. Will see what I can find around here and let you know.

One vehicle is out of commission right now and I'm sleeping in an old step-uncle's home following his recent death, to forestall break-ins, so it may take a while.

joyful Ed.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2004 at 12:19AM
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We had something like that when I was a kid & it worked well. I thought they were much longer than 4', but I was much smaller then. ;>)

I found a few sites with roll out downspouts:

I can't seem to make the above addy into a link so you'll have to cut & paste. The link below has many downspouts & accessories.

Here is a link that might be useful: roll out downspout

    Bookmark   March 27, 2004 at 11:59AM
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I have one of those in the front. I think that DH picked it up in HD, but the "Home Improvements," or is it just "Improvements" Catalog sells them too. The problem with them is that they splash water straight up into the air. I'm going to disconnect mine, add a longer extension to the gutter, and reconnect it, because I think that it is potentially spraying water up under the siding. Also, during heavy rains, they don't empty fast enough, and I think a lot of water is sitting in the gutters and downspout waiting to come out. Also, they really can't be "directed." They only unroll in one direction: straight out.

I think that a better idea for you might be to hook up to your gutter downspout, a piece of hose that "sweats." You can run it around the plants that need the water. I just don't know how you could hook it up, or what you would do with the overflow water, since you don't want a rain barrel.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2004 at 3:35PM
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Bearcentral - I think the D-Rain Away was what I had seen in a catalog once. I'll check into it, but I do need something longer. Thanks for the links - now I can be assured that joyfulguy and I weren' t just sharing a halucination.

Windchime- I think the thing you are talking about is a solid piece that flip down under water pressure?? I can see how that might just splash instead of divert. I've been puzzling over how to connect a soaker hose to the downspout, but can't come up w/ anything satisfactory and am also concerned about drainage rate through the hose not being sufficient.

Thanks again for all the suggestions.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2004 at 9:00AM
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Yippie! Thanks to Windchime's direction to Improvements catalog, I tracked the rollout/rollup "Rain Drain" on the web to Do It Best Hardware. They have 8 & 12 ft lengths for less than a third of the price and w/ free shipping! I'm hoping that if I route it a bit away from the house,I won't have the problem w/ splashing. The gutter runs that feed into the rain-drain won't be really long, so maybe excess flow won't be an issue either.

So, I ordered two 12 ft runs for two sections of my house (west side, the east side feeds in to a catchment tank). I'll let you know how it turns out. BUT, I have not yet installed the gutter runs and will also have to wait for decent rains, so it may take awhile.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2004 at 10:43AM
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It looks as though things are turning out well for you. Appears that three or four heads are better than two.

If the hose backs up, it's made of thin plastic, so should be easy to enlarge the holes as desired, especially in the part that runs near a tree/plant that you want to water, or out near the end of the hose, far from the wall, etc.

When, about 65 years ago, we were making a big problem out of something that had an easy solution if we only looked in a different place or from a different perspective, Dad used to say that if a rope were too short, he knew what to do with it - splice it.

But if it were too long, he had a big problem: didn't know what to do with it.

Once, when he was feeling mischievous, he held out his hand, clenched in a fist, asking if we'd like to see what was in it.

When we said that we would, he opened his fist - which, of course, contained a knife.


    Bookmark   March 28, 2004 at 2:29PM
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I have three plastic barrels I'd like to use for rainwater collection. Does anyone know how you would attach some sort of garden hose tap into the plastic, do they make ones that self seal?
By the way if you're looking to find plastic barrels cheap or free.. try your local Coke bottling plant, they bring in phosphoric acid by the truckload in plastic barrels which make great rain barrels..(phos acid is added to coke to give it that bite..though it is a hazardous commodity in its natural state so the barrels are labelled, but safe when cleaned out)

    Bookmark   April 17, 2004 at 11:14PM
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Don't they recycle the barrels? Who, exactly, do you contact for these barrels anyway?

I bet you can buy the spigot at a plumbing supply store. You could use the same type that's used for your hose connection on your house. You could add a short nipple (short pipe where both ends are threaded male) to get the male end that you would put into the barrel (I think those spigots are female) and then use a rubber washer or gasket on the outside of the barrel to seal it. And maybe even one on the inside. A washer and a large nut on the inside should keep it in place, I think. Use a piece of screen on the top of the barrel to keep debris out. And don't forget mosquito dunks to keep 'em from breeding! There might be other types of spigots available. Maybe plastic. Did you try a web search to see what's out there?

    Bookmark   April 18, 2004 at 1:05AM
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I work nearby a coke bottling plant and by the truck entranceway there is a guard shack and vending machine.. I asked the guard once about the barrels (I saw them using them for trash cans) and he brought me some out. I suppose they do recycle them, but it never hurts to ask if you can have one.
I'll take a look at the hardware and your idea.. thanks...

    Bookmark   April 18, 2004 at 7:30PM
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Pooh Bear

I see plastic barrels every week in the classifieds.
Somebody locally sells them, $5 each.
See them at a local fleamarket too.

Pooh Bear

    Bookmark   April 18, 2004 at 11:38PM
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Pooh Bear

Here is another site for Roll Out DownSpouts.
Saw it on the 2004 Builders Show on HGTV.

Pooh Bear

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 20, 2004 at 2:49AM
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Two things - First, I have my gutters/downspouts and 'raindrains' installed, but even the 12 ft lengths of raindrain are too short, so I'll have to do some mods. Rain predicted (yeah, sure) for this weekend, so at least I'll have an idea if my layout works.

Second - to PKguy, My rain barrel (yet I have one, and don't want a whole slew of them) is just a solid 1/2" thick (wall) polyethylene container on a metal stand w/ a conical bottom. It is actually a salvaged setup for labroratory deionized water storage. But I need the stand, since my yard slope up from my house. Anyway, I installe a std. tap as an overflow tap by using a spade bit to drill a slightly undersized hole, then threading the tap into the polyethylene. After threading, I backed the tap out, coated the threads w/ silicon caulk, then reinserted. There is a female threaded piece (also caulked) on the inside to squeeze together the outer flange of the tap and the inner piece against the wall. Did the same on the bottom of the cone, except there, I used just a straight double male threaded piece, and connected a section of hose directly to it. The control valve (a ball joint) is at the end of that section. This length of hose allows me ready access without having to crawl around on the ground. Anyway, the overflow tap doesn't stay in contact w/ water much and isn't under real pressure, so it should hold up just fine. The bottom tap may start leaking if the water/pressure in contact w/ the silicon caulk softens it too much.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2004 at 9:22AM
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If you don't want to build your rain barrel yourself- adding spigots etc. you could use a stock watering barrel from the livestock supply store. They have nice screw on lids and spigots near the base. We used them to bring temporary water to the fields where irragation had not yet been installed.

How about adding a filter and ultraviolet cleaner and use the extra water in the house for toilets and laundry? When I get time, that is the plan here!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2004 at 11:01AM
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Here is what you want, if you haven't rigged something up already.
barrel tap

I bought one last year, but kitchen improvements taking over the backyard kept me from getting my gardening act together. I looked at installing it today, and DH and I decided that it will not work for our application. I splurged on fancy rainbarrels from Gardener's Supply a few years ago and they come with a spiggot to which you attach a small hose with a hose clamp. My backyard one was constantly draining the rainbarrel because it would get knocked out of its holder and turned on. I wanted to install the tap, but because the barrel is a one-piece molded design with top spokes, we cannot get our hands down far enough to install the tap.

One problem I have always had with this rainbarrel is that it is not elevated, so the water drains very slowly. You can wait half of forever for it to fill a watering can. I sent for a stand to place it on (we are not very handy here) and hope to have the water pressure improved this year.

Madscientist, my concern with your proposed soaker hose system is that you will also have problems with water pressure if you try to use the soaker hose. My soaker hose (attached to the municipal water faucet) seems to need the pressure of a closed system to get enough force to push the water out of the perforations in the rubber soaker hose. I would bet that your gutters would overflow as the soaker hose slowly trickles a bit of water into your garden. I hope your raindrains are working satisfactorily. If not, you might check one of these out and see if you can rig a way to attach it to your gutter supply.
drip and soaker systems

Here is a drip watering system that may work, you just need to figure out how to divert some downspout water into it.
watering ring

    Bookmark   May 1, 2004 at 9:14PM
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Not to worry, Nancy_in_MIch, the only place I connect a soaker hose is to the bottom tap of my barrel. Soaker hoses DO require a good bit of pressure to operate - it takes several hours to do the 'top' 20 gallons or so in my barrel. Drip irrigation at its slowest. But that's what I need for areas w/ unamended soil, since the local 'degraded tuff' actively repels water! I haven't tried letting the whole barrel drain through the soaker hose, but I imagine that, at some point, it would just stop draining. The barrel also has an upper tap for overflow, and I keep a length of hose on it that goes to a nearby flowerbed. So..., no soaker hoses directly connected to drains/downspouts.

The other two drain/downspouts of the house are now connected to 'raindrains' that empty out into the amended soil flowerbeds. They seem to work just fine. It will be a matter of trial & error to figure out what size holes & where to punch out for specific plants. But, they seem to be a cheap & easy way to divert gutter water for direct use in a nearby area. At some point, though, I'll probably replace them w/ a run of drilled solid pipe that I can bury under mulch to be less visible.

I just re-read my previous post and am appalled at the grammatical errors, typos, etc. Surely the "post" system changed my input! Right?

    Bookmark   May 3, 2004 at 2:00PM
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Madscientist, it is good to hear that the soaker hose can work off of the rainbarrel. I have an area that is very much shielded by the eaves, too, and that may be a good solution for dry times here. I have just used a watering can with the rainbarrel water in the past, and this is not efficient in the long run. Right now I have the soaker hose attached to the municipal tap. Since we are not in a drought here (yet - wait until July) I can use the tap if I need to. Knowing I can use the barrel like this helps me have more options in the future. I like your drilled solid pipe, it will be the best solution. I have accidentaly cut my soaker hose when I buried it and later dug to plant something. Your solid pipe will work much better.

Yes, there are gremilins in the works, I am constantly attacked by the spelling error elfs.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2004 at 9:42PM
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Mind you, the soaker hose/rain barrel combo is verrrrrry slow. I'd get a sprinkler hose (bigger holes) if I didn't already have the soaker hose.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2004 at 7:25PM
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It is great that you have your system working, Madscientist. As for me, I got the backyard barrel up and running and am using the water to grow potted tomatoes, cukes, and zuchinni (the dogs own the backyard, so gardening must be done on tables unless I want to build a fence and take away some of their yard. The crops get more attention and better sun on the patio, anyway.) I have not yet gotten my act together in the front yard. I am always wary of putting up that rainbarrel because it must sit in front of the municipal water faucet. I have to do an extension faucet and leave the wall spigot on all summer. It is a big responsibility to get that connection tight and I just haven't felt confident enough to do it. I just have to get out the wrenches and bit e the bullet, I guess. Rain is expected today, and our dry season is coming.

My favorite gardening catalog now has a gravity-feed watering kit available for non-pressurized, rainbarrel applications. It costs $25 US for 20 drip heads with a drip rate of 1 gph, connectors, 50 ft of feeder hose, 50 ft of header hose, an end connector, and a faucet connector. You need to elevate the source barrel by at least 3ft and you get 20 gph watering. Here is a link in case anyone is interested in looking at the system. Lee Valley has much more reasonable prices than other gardening catalogues I get and has some nice old-fashioned tools and toys.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lee Valley gravity-fed watering system

    Bookmark   June 9, 2004 at 10:08AM
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