Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Gutter change

So I've been worrying a little regarding my idea of inset gutters as I watched the ice melt from the roof of our current home and fill up our gutters. We definitely need an inset gutter in the previously mentioned problem areas, but I am changing my mind on having them everywhere else. There are few issues with having inset gutters everywhere:
  • They are inset within the roof and within the enclosure of the home, which really makes me worry about having ice build up there (regardless of whether we have heat tape or other heating method)
  • Since no contractor we talked to had done something like this before, this was going to take some planning, which translates into higher cost (likely higher than even standard gutters)
  • Maintenance is still an issue, as leaves and debris are caught in the gutters and need removal to prevent clogs, and many of these gutters would be high up
The original reason for wanting inset gutters was to remove the gutter as an eyesore on the outside of the home, and inset gutters definitely accomplish this goal. But the issues cited above called for a different solution.

Since I am a voracious web surfer and reader, constantly looking for low-cost home solutions, I have indeed found a different solution. The solution has no worries regarding ice build up, they are low maintenance, well-designed, and low cost. They are called rainhandlers. They were invented by an engineer (of course, and these immediately put them in good stead with me) from MIT, who injured himself on a ladder trying to clean out his gutters. The concept immediately made intuitive sense to me. Instead of gathering all the water coming of the roof and sending to one spot (which has it's own potential problems for foundation moisture and pooling), the rainhandlers take the stream of water and convert it back to "rain". Rainhandlers are spaced, curved fins that take the stream of water and spread it in droplets over a 3 ft. area of ground. (Click below to enlarge) Here's the set-up we would need for our home design:
In our case the "fascia board" is the entire outer wall of the home (we have no overhangs or eaves). We would need the "drip edge extender" to ensure the stream of water hit the fins of the rainhandlers. For any engineers out there, the fins are curved with an optimal design for spreading the stream of water, and the fins have to be mounted at a minimum distance below the roofline to ensure the water stream develops enough kinetic energy for the fins to create the 3 ft. spread of droplets.

The great thing is that from the street you really can't see these at all since you would be looking at them "on-edge". And the cost is roughly half of what you would pay for standard gutters (which means it's even more cost efficient compared to inset gutters). Maintenance-wise, leaves and debris rarely get caught in the rainhandlers, but if they do you just spray them off with a hose from the ground. Check out the website for a well-done video showing installation, as well as pictures of homes that have these installed. Call me a nerd, but I think these are cool :-)


John Curran said...

You're a nerd.

They are cool.

Waiting to hear more about the Papal Mass, please...

Brendan Koop said...

I'll be posting pics of the mass from my sister soon, and I actually have yet to talk to my dad about his experience. I'll definitely be talking to him soon! There was actually a picture in a national media outlet of some deacons meeting before the mass to go over the procedure for communion and I was pretty sure I saw my dad in the picture, I'll have to ask him about it.

Brian said...

Sarah told me to check this out because we're needing gutters on our house. There seems to be a lot of negative comments about them online so I'm not sure if I would want to sink much money into buying them without talking with someone that has personally dealt with them.

We have drainage issues as it is (our basement is dry but our sump pump runs a lot when it's raining) so I'm not sure that the dispersion of rainhandlers will really do as much good as gutters in our situation.

Here's one take on them:

Brendan Koop said...


Thanks for the comment, it's good to hear from you! And thanks for the link, I definitely want all the information available. A couple thoughts...

Do you have any links you've found with actual complaints from people who've used the system and then had foundation problems? It seems this home inspector is only speculating and doesn't have actual experience.

The other thing is, on our current home we have no gutters anywhere, except for one 12-15 ft. section by our front door, and those are as leaky as a sieve. I haven't noticed any foundation issues with our current home (built in 1994). We've had it professionally inspected when we bought the house, and there were no concerns. So my thought is that we have no gutters now, rainhandlers would be better than no gutters.

I'm not really concerned about the foundation of our new home, I'm more concerned about water seeping into our outer walls since we have no eaves or overhangs. If we had no gutters at all, water would drain down the side of the home. I think the rainhandlers would be a good solution for that. Also, only a small portion of our home will be basement, the rest is slab, so foundation issues wouldn't be a concern for much of the home.

Let me know if you have more info. I'll search around too.