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Dale's self flushing roof gutters.  RSS feed

 
Dale Hodgins
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Dale's self flushing roof gutters.

I was cleaning out roof gutters yesterday, and contemplating how a system could be devised to render my services obsolete. There are a dozen different gutter guard systems which work with varying degrees of success. These systems rely on wind blowing accumulated debris off of the roof and across the perforated guard. They work great in areas that have mostly deciduous trees and in areas that have a dry autumn with some wind.

Many homes on the west coast of North America receive lots of wet conifer needles which tend to clog up the little pours of gutter guards and then trap other debris that fails to be blown over. Cedar waste sits flat and resists being blown down. The rotting mess can form a cementitious mat which causes heavy rains to wash over the gutters and onto the fascia. Sometimes large amounts of crap gets under the guards and forms a layer of soil there.

The Solution

I'm not a fan of downspouts. I prefer to run the gutter a few feet past the roof's end and then allow the water to shoot onto a rock pile or pea gravel absorption field. Mine will feed a rubber lined seasonal stream that runs into a pond about 100 ft away. It would make no sense to save the seasonal deluge in my region using barrels or a cistern. Most problems with roof drainage have to do with poorly designed and maintained downspouts which clog with debris and cause the system to overflow. An open gutter with no end caps is far less likely to be clogged with crap. But even an open gutter will slowly fill with needles and other fine particles when slow, steady rain doesn't create enough flow to wash the stuff out.

ENTER THE INTERMITTENT GUTTER FLUSHER.

If you've ever been to a Japanese garden, you've probably seen a water feature that included a bamboo bucket that is slowly filled until it reaches a point where it tips over on it's hinge and dumps a load of water into the pond or stream. A variation of this could be installed at the end of a gutter furthest from the outlet. The abrupt addition of water would create a wave which would dislodge loose material in the gutter. During a rain, the bucket would flush the system every few minutes. When I clean gutters, I find that a surge of water moves the final bits toward the downspout. When a garden hose is allowed to run continuously, the water flows over or around stubborn bits. Saturated acorns mixed with fir cones are the worst. A roof mounted device could be made from aluminum or stainless steel. Flat stock of the same material could be run under the shingles on the part of the roof above the bucket. The flat stock would be formed to create a spout that fills the flushing pail. You would soon be able to determine how hard it is raining by timing how long between flushes. Why bother with cable or internet ? (: Unsuspecting visitors could be sent to collect a pail of water from the regular stream coming from the gutter about a minute before a flush. Great fun.

Here 's an example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oi483GlQ5Rk
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Dale - this is GENIUS!!

First - I love the fact that you use "canales" instead of downspouts. And that they drop into essentially what sounds like a French drain situation that feeds the stream/pond. That part alone would rate you an apple from me (if I knew how to give you one).

But in true mad genius fashion - the intermittent gutter flusher is DA BOMB! It's functional performance art! It's an effective solution! It's a stealth attack! So many functions from one elegant solution.

Please, please pursue this and post pics back here. I remember having similar issues when I lived in Wisconsin. Black walnut trees grew in my gutters - what a pain in the posterior.

I don't know if you've ever read about the "jeux d'eau" gardens where surprise water features were activated by visitors in various ways? This solution strikes me as a great start to your own "jeux d'eau".
 
Rufus Laggren
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Uh, Jennifer....

I guess you like the idea a bit, eh? <GGG> (Giving Dale a chance to pick himself up off his backside, dust off a little, wipe that bemused look off. <g>


Cheers

Rufus
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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LOL - a tad effusive, was I??
 
Dale Hodgins
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Thank you Jennifer, you are obviously a woman of taste and intellect.

Rufus underestimates my opinion of myself. As a male, there is no amount of effusive praise that I would find embarrassing or unwarranted. Whether I hang a picture, fry an egg or build a cottage, I like to stand back and marvel at my creation as though it is a Renoir. I often read through old threads and stumble upon my own thoughts on the matter at hand. Almost always, I look it over and think to myself, "Ooo, I really nailed that one".
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Now back to growing stuff in roof water. This thread from two years ago, discusses how to use roof water to clean up dirty rocks for use in building. I revisited the idea while contemplating the self flushing gutter.--- Roof runoff rock rinser http://www.permies.com/t/10802/green-building/Roof-runoff-rock-rinser

Any number of other devices could achieve this. A moveable gate could cap the exit end so that the gutter fills 3/4 full. A float could then lift the gate. This sounds like a stray leaf could clog it up. With the weight activated bucket, there's less to go wrong. Some of the ones used in gardens allow the descending bucket to strike a chime, xylophone or a drum. Could this technology also be used to frighten deer and rabbits ? In really high tech Japanese gardens there are water features like this that are inadvertently activated by visitors when they step on a board. Let's make a weight activated one that lets the falling bucket smack a brass gong. That would scare a deer much more than something rythmic and predictable.

I've got water on the brain today. This new thread discusses how to utilize water from flash floods in arid environments to grow food in sunken gardens. Dale's Roof Runoff - French Drain - Sunken Hugelkultur Bed - For Arid Climates --- http://www.permies.com/t/29370/desert/Dale-Roof-Runoff-French-Drain#228928

 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Oh thank you for the good chuckle this morning!!! You guys made my day.

OBVIOUSLY I am a women of taste and discernment - I hang out here in permieland and talk about peeing in my outdoor shower... As they say, "you are the company that you keep". Nothing, apparently, is TMI for me.

Dale - I must secretly be male as I, too, am often staggered at my brilliance! Hey - somebody's gotta be. Just this morning I marveled at the quality and quantity of milk foam on my homemade latte. It's the little things.

Apples all 'round! (how does one give an apple?? or get one for that matter - I notice I now have one)
 
Dale Hodgins
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Only the all powerful stewards may award apples. This thread explains it all. As you'll see, I had some fun there. What does the apple next to my name mean? http://www.permies.com/t/20289/tnk/apple

Edit --- Burra the Omniscient, knew we were talking about this and she clarified things in that thread this morning. --- "Not only stewards! Volunteers and pollinators also have a supply of apples for handing out."
 
Miles Flansburg
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Jennifer, Here is a thread that explains the apples.

http://www.permies.com/t/20289/tnk/apple

If you look at Dales first post above you will see an apple has appeared at the top. This means someone from the staff has agreed with your assesment of Dales wonderful post and awarded an apple to it.

If you look back at your posts you will be able to find the one that earned your first apple.
 
Miles Flansburg
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Oh, Dale you beat me to it! Thanks, and great post.
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Dale Hodgins wrote:Only the all powerful stewards may award apples. This thread explains it all. As you'll see, I had some fun there. What does the apple next to my name mean? http://www.permies.com/t/20289/tnk/apple

Edit --- Burra the Omniscient, knew we were talking about this and she clarified things in that trread this morning. --- "Not only stewards! Volunteers and pollinators also have a supply of apples for handing out."


Geez guys - you have enough apples to make some PIE!! So make some already and share it around. Or we could make applesauce - yum yum!

Now I have to know how to be a volunteer or pollinator. So many things to learn.
 
Rufus Laggren
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> pie... applesauce...

I don't know if there're any icons for pies and applesauce ...
 
John Merrifield
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I was just thinking of a time when I cleaned a ladies gutters and she transplanted some of the maple saplings. Also, how there was no way a deer was going to nip off those young trees way up at the roofline. Adding baffles to the gutter to collect debris it may be the perfect place for starting trees. Although cleanout would be much harder.
 
Dale Hodgins
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John Merrifield wrote:I was just thinking of a time when I cleaned a ladies gutters and she transplanted some of the maple saplings. Also, how there was no way a deer was going to nip off those young trees way up at the roofline. Adding baffles to the gutter to collect debris it may be the perfect place for starting trees. Although cleanout would be much harder.


This area is so commonly neglected that I could see that going badly wrong. They would almost certainly plug things up. The best spot for at risk stuff would be on an island in a pond or possibly on a rooftop designed with plants in mind.--- http://www.permies.com/t/10857/green-building/Green-roof-perfect-spot-aquaponics --- A good fence is easier than both of those options.
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