When building a house, there are many things to consider. One is water management, especially when it concerns handling heavy rainfall.
Among the various designs, gutters are considered an excellent roofing system. It’s designed to channel water from the roof to a drainage system away from the structure of the house.
Yet despite being highly effective, gutters can be a bit costly. Hence, this article will talk about gutter alternatives that are as effective as gutters but aren’t as expensive.
If you’re searching for alternatives to a gutter system, there are a couple of options you can review.
Start by evaluating your location and the surrounding environment of your property. Then, inspect the integrity of the exterior of the house.
These factors need to be taken into account when deciding on a viable alternative. Once done, you can select from the following substitutes.
French drains, also known as underground gutters, are drainage systems where water channels are installed underground along the border of your property.
The pipes are commonly made from various types of plastic, like PVC pipes, for example.
The configuration of the French drain setup is to collect water that falls directly from the roof. Then, the drain directs them away from the footings of the structure to avoid free-standing water that could potentially damage the house.
By design, it protects the foundation of your house from the damaging effects of pooling water. The procedure for installing this type of water management system is easy.
Below are the steps for installing French drains with the necessary materials for the system.
Drive two stakes—or wooden posts—in the ground. The distance between them depends on the length of the trench you’re going to dig. Next, tighten the string line to find the level between the posts.
Dig the conduits to a depth of 1.5 to 2 feet and 1 foot wide with an angle that slopes in the direction you want the water to flow.
The general recommended ratio of inclination is 1 inch for every 8–10 feet.
Pour gravel on the trench line up to 2–3 inches deep. See to it that the coarse rocks are only about half an inch in size.
Once the gravel fills the channels to a certain depth, use a water-resistant fabric lining to protect the trench lines. Leave an allowance of 8–10 inches of water-permeable fabric on both sides of the trough.
Lay down the PVC pipes, or flexible drain pipes, with predrilled holes on top of the fabric following the trench lines.
Make sure there’s a 5–inch gap between the pipe linings from the top of the ground floor.
When all the pipes are in place, fold the excess fabric over the tubes, holding both ends of each side, with one side overlapping the other.
Fill the troughs with more gravel leaving only 2–3 inches of depth for the final layer. Finally, cover the remaining span with sand and dirt on top.
Perhaps the most straightforward of all rainwater management systems is the drip path. It costs relatively cheaper than most gutter works.
This technique has no attachment to the roof. It mainly consists of concrete blocks placed perpendicular to the roofline.
You only have to set the pavings at an angle that will divert the water away from the house.
The steps to make a drip path are:
- Excavate a trench about 18 inches wide and 8 inches deep parallel to the drip line of the roof.
- Angle the bottom layer of the trough with the slope moving away from the structure.
- Lay out a non-woven geotextile fabric from the base of the trough from one end to the other.
- Fill the trench up to 5 inches deep with gravel at a diameter of no more than 2 inches.
- Fold the fabric covering the first layer of gravel.
- Use large rocks to fence around the trench and hold the rest of the coarse stones in place.
- Fill the rest of the space with smaller gravel, about 1–1.5 inches wide.
The idea for the RDS system, also known as Rainhandler, is to spread rainwater in smaller amounts by redirecting it to louver outlets in a spread-out manner.
Thus, their impact on the ground is minimal and less splashy.
Contrary to traditional gutters, you won’t have to deal with annoying leaf and debris blockages with the Rainhandler.
Plus, because of the design that targets minimizing water concentration, you won’t have to deal with annoying icicles building up on the outlets next winter.
Aesthetically, this water management system works like a window blind, except that, instead of casting divided shades, it divides rainwater.
Here are the steps to install RDS:
- Prepare your tools, then set up the ladder about 4 feet away from the edge of the roof.
- Mark the spots for the screws on the bracket with a marker using the correct measurements.
- Start drilling the screw studs to fasten the brackets.
- Mount the Rainhandler using the second slat with the rear hook. Apply pressure until it locks in place.
- Make sure the roofline is perpendicular to the third or fourth slat of the Rainhandler from the fascia board.
- Repeat the same steps until you’ve covered the entire roof.
- Finally, use a cutter to cut the slats that extend beyond the corners.
This kind of rainwater system is known by many names, including internal gutter and trough gutter.
Boxed gutters are designed in a way that makes them almost invisible from the ground, contributing to a seamless roof aesthetic. They’re more like suspended trenches that are directly attached to the roof.
From the name itself, boxed gutters are different from curvilinear gutters.
For starters, they have minimal clogging problems because these suspended troughs are more like an install-and-forget type of system.
The downside is that boxed gutters require precision in installation. Unlike the Drip path, in which anyone can employ a DIY approach, trough gutters demand skilled workers with a hefty price tag.
Here’s how you can set them up:
- Fasten at 24-inch on-center using rivets through the predrilled holes to secure the brackets for the box gutter.
- Install the miter, which is a piece of angled splice that connects two hangers from different sides in one corner using a mechanical fastener or a rivet.
- Utilizing a non-curing compound, apply a line of heavy beads to the inside of the miter on both ends and fasten a joint splice at each end.
- Secure the gutter starting from the corner, working your way into the middle.
- Leave a gap of a quarter inch between each section of the conduit to allow the material to expand because of heat.
- Find the splice for each gutter. Apply a heavy bead of a non-curing compound to the inside and outside of the gutter joints.
- Insert the joint splice into the conduit and fasten the joint splice using a rivet on the top, bottom, and lower sides.
- There should be a joint splice at each joint at the two ends of the gutter.
Install the strap, or the metal strip that connects the higher and lower lips of the gutter, to the inside of both lips through the predrilled holes using rivets.
- Expansion joints typically have two prefabricated end caps, one joint cover, and one joint cap.
When fastening them to connect the gutters, make sure to provide a one-inch allowance for the end caps.
- Insert the joint cover into the conduit and fasten it using a rivet in the middle of the expansion joint.
- Attach the joint cap over the lips of the end cap, and place the joint cap between the one-inch gap of the end caps.
- Fasten the entire assembly to the siding of the roofing underlayment using 1.5-inch ring shank nails.
- Find a suitable location and slash the bottom of the gutter relative to the size of the downspout.
- Finally, place the tube outlet in the downspout flange using rivets and apply a non-curing compound to seal the gap.
Having alternative options for gutters is one thing. Yet, it’s quite another when the topic shifts to downspouts.
One of the main concerns about these water channels is that they can be an eyesore and ruin the look of your house.
So, you might be thinking, ‘Are there other options than fastening tubing at the corners of the house?’
Definitely! Here are a few we recommend:
These rain chains are easy and quick to install and provide a better view than traditional pipes.
Using the same gutters, place the chains through the provided downspout hole and let them hang over. Add a hook or a rod and attach the chains to it.
Plug the rod, or peg, into the ground to stabilize the rain chains.
Designed like an upside-down umbrella, these cups, with a hole in the middle and a chain that links them, cascade the rainwater down with ease and style.
Aside from the aesthetics, they’re quite functional in how they allow water to flow with minimal splashing.
Although copper is known to be a bit pricey, these cups are a good investment because they’re functional and aesthetically pleasing.
Arguably, single rain chains are the simplest form of alternative downspouts you’ll find. You can easily buy a basic chain from the hardware store and turn it into a single rain chain.
Experts recommend using a half-inch wide chain. Then, attach the lone chain through the downspout hole according to the height of your gutter to the ground.
Fasten it to the ground with a rod just as you did with the rain chains.
There are many alternatives to choose from when it comes to water management systems, particularly for gutters and downspouts.
Deciding on which one depends on a few factors, namely, house structure, surrounding environment, and the location of your property.
If your main concern is to avoid clogging, choose the Rain Dispersal System or Boxed Gutters.
If appeal and design are what you’re looking for in a downspout alternative, then you should definitely try the Copper Rain Cups.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems and over 10 years of experience working in IT. As a homeowner, I love working on projects around the house, and as a father, I love investigating various ways to keep my family safe (whether or not this involves tech). I’ve also played guitar for almost 20 years and love writing music, although it’s hard to find the time these days.