The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Fixing the gutter and drying up the ground

"I can think of several ways to fix the problem - what did you decide to do? We recently put up a rain-catchment gutter on our cabin, and discovered the roof edge isn't level - also in the wrong direction. That meant the 'attaching blocks' had to be bigger to allow for the difference - making the job take a lot longer than planned."
--- Rhonda from Baddeck

It turns out that Rhonda is on the right track --- the gutters on our roof would have been installed correctly if the whole trailer didn't tilt toward the west.  It started raining, so we haven't finished the project yet, but I think we're going to first try taking out the screws that attach the gutter to the side of the roof, then will give the gutter more of a tilt, if possible, so we can keep the downspout where it is.  Worst-case scenario, we'll move the downspout to the other end.

Interestingly, in a heavy rain Friday morning, I noticed that the downspout seemed to be working pretty well despite the incorrect tilt.  Sure, a bit of water was drizzling out the other end, but most of the roof runoff appeared to be going down the downspout and into the greywater wetland, which seemed well able to handle the extra water.

High groundwater

On the downside, it turns out that the high groundwater in that spot isn't entirely due to water pouring off the trailer roof right there.  Even with that rain being captured by the downspout, water was pooling right at the surface, meaning I need to keep working if I don't want the grape and kiwi I'll be installing there to drown.  I'm hoping the extra water comes from the other downspout twelve feet uphill which spits out water falling on the front porch, but I haven't quite decided if there's a solution short of channeling that water into the greywater wetland too.  I'd like to have a rain barrel at the corner of the porch to make watering seedlings easier in the summer, but we get so much rain that the barrel would do no good in the winter.

Dry stone wall

Finally, just for fun, I piled up lots of rocks around the kiwi and grape mounds.  Hopefully these will act as thermal mass and they'll definitely make the plants more visible so they won't accidentally get weedeaten.  And we're also thinking of taking Brian's advice and making the trellis out of wire since he makes an excellent point about the shade potential of lumber.  I can't wait to see this area in full greenery in summer 2014!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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As long as the top of the gutter at the far end is higher than the top of the outlet, it should still work.

Nevertheless, it is usually a good idea to use a line level to lay out the desired slope of the gutter. The usual minimal slope is 1/4" per 10 ft of length. You might want to use a little bit more because buildings tend to sag over time.

  • Measure the length of your gutter
  • Put up the level line up at the height of the gutter. Make sure that it's taut.
  • Move the sprout end attachment of the guide line down by the required amount
  • Fix the gutter so that its top or bottom is parallel to the line you fixed earlier.
Comment by Roland_Smith Sat Dec 7 08:29:33 2013

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