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Keeping the snow from ripping the gutter off of my greenhouse for rainwater catchment  RSS feed

 
Dave Dahlsrud
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Location: North-Central Idaho, 4100 ft elev., 24 in precip
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Does anybody have any tricks or ideas for keeping the gutter on the side of my hoophouse so I can harvest the rainwater for the greenhouse without it being torn off when snow sloughs off the top in the winter. We don't get a ton of snow, but it seems like it would be enough to tear the gutter off the side when it comes sliding down from the ridge. I was thinking something like an expanded metal lath that would allow water through, but snow would slide over. Honestly I don't really know what is the best approach here. Any suggestions would be great. (There's a link in my signature with pictures of my greenhouse if you need that kind of visual to come up with ideas) Thanks!!!
 
Craig Dobbson
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Location: Maine (zone 5)
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Where I live, nobody has roof gutters because of this exact reason. well.... sort of. It's not the snow that tears the gutters off of the house usually. On a semi warm day the snow melts and slowly dribbles into and down the gutters. That goes on til night fall when the temp drops below freezing and the water freezes to ice inside the gutter clogging it shut. Once the gutter is frozen shut and the water won't flow, the whole gutter fills with water (8lbs/gallon) and that's what rips the gutter from the roof. The weight of that water inside the gutter system with no place to go causes the beginning of the end. One last freeze cycle (expansion) to distort the gutter shape and weaken it's fasteners overnight and... down she goes.

In my case, I collect the water in channels (swales) dug out around the house and diverted to places where I need the water. Ponds, swales and water storage tanks can be situated to pick up this water with the right planning.

Maybe there is a feasible way to completely cover the gutter during freezing weather to prevent it's use and thus, it's breakage?
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Remove them for winter, or they need to be reinforced to the point they can hold all that weight.

 
William Bronson
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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Conventionally , thermal electric heating wires are used. I doubt a solar photovoltaic powered version would work.
 
Dave Keck
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Maybe catch the water at the base of the greenhouse? You'd need a buried tank or pond for this to work though.
 
Dave Dahlsrud
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Location: North-Central Idaho, 4100 ft elev., 24 in precip
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R Scott wrote:Remove them for winter, or they need to be reinforced to the point they can hold all that weight.



I'm kinda feeling like this might be my best option. Maybe pull the section of gutter off in November and put it back on in March (that's when we get most of our snow), should probably have the tank drained by then too just to avoid freezing issues. I was hoping for something where I didn't have to do this, but it's probably going to be the simplest option. With the plastic film covering the structure I don't think the heating wires would work to well and there's no power out there, plus we're off the grid so I wouldn't want to "waste" the electricity on that any how. Thanks for the feedback, if anybody comes up with something better, by all means share!
 
Corey Schmidt
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Location: Kachemak Bay, Alaska (usda zone 6, ahs heat zone 1, lat 59 N, coastal, koppen Dfc)
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There seems to be an earth berm around the greenhouse? if the gutters rested on the berm they would be sturdy, if that would be high enough. otherwise there seems to be a wood frame. I have heard of using pvc or abs with slits (maybe 3/4" wide, and precisely oriented to catch drip) cut in them (with a circular saw or table saw, carefully and slowly so as not to shatter) to receive water, and left completely whole (no slits) for a couple of inches every few feet or so to maintain their integrity. 2 inch pipe could be screwed directly into the 2x4 frame with 3 inch drywall screws=fairly cheap. another variation of using the berm might be a french drain- dig a little ditch, line it with plastic, back fill with gravel. this would collect more snow melt also. again depends on storage location and intended use. a tank can be a hole in the ground lined with plastic. or maybe for gutters a lumber V lined with plastic and supported by posts, but that would involve a fair amount of labor...
 
Dave Dahlsrud
Posts: 507
Location: North-Central Idaho, 4100 ft elev., 24 in precip
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Corey Schmidt wrote:There seems to be an earth berm around the greenhouse? if the gutters rested on the berm they would be sturdy, if that would be high enough. otherwise there seems to be a wood frame. I have heard of using pvc or abs with slits (maybe 3/4" wide, and precisely oriented to catch drip) cut in them (with a circular saw or table saw, carefully and slowly so as not to shatter) to receive water, and left completely whole (no slits) for a couple of inches every few feet or so to maintain their integrity. 2 inch pipe could be screwed directly into the 2x4 frame with 3 inch drywall screws=fairly cheap. another variation of using the berm might be a french drain- dig a little ditch, line it with plastic, back fill with gravel. this would collect more snow melt also. again depends on storage location and intended use. a tank can be a hole in the ground lined with plastic. or maybe for gutters a lumber V lined with plastic and supported by posts, but that would involve a fair amount of labor...


Corey,
The north side of the greenhouse has a kind of a hugel berm that is meant to catch and hold the moisture from that side of the roof. The south side isn't bermmed at all, and that is where I am wanting to install a gutter. I like the round pipe with slits in it idea! I think I've got some PVC laying around that I could do an experiment with pretty cheaply. Though I will probably through bolt the pipe to the wood framing with some 1/4 inch carriage bolts to make the thing that much stronger. Thanks for the great idea!!!
 
Shawn Jadrnicek
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Location: South Carolina
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I like to use the ground gutters Corey mentioned. They're basically a french drain with pond liner material under the perforated pipe. Water has to be stored in a pond or below ground tank. To build, I dig a trench then lay gravel at the base then pond liner then perforated pipe (wrapped) then bury the pipe in gravel. The gravel below and above the liner has the added benefit of keeping rodents from taking residence and wreaking havoc inside the greenhouse. It's more expensive and time consuming to install but bomb proof once in place. I also place some of my greenhouses on a sloped platform ~1%. This may help move water through the ground gutter pipes but probably not necessary for a small greenhouse.

 
Nancy Troutman
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Location: Swanton, MD
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I catch water close to the ground for this very reason. The ground under your roof line tells you where the right spot is. Because of the cold climate, I have to use underground containment anyway. I use a hand pump to access the water. The pipe leads to a 1000 gallon food safe container that is buried in a vault 3' below the ground level. The gray in the picture is ground gravel, the kind that does not compact. The pipe is PVC with holes cut so that it receives water from the gravel above it, but not from its sides. It is not food safe, but I could not find one that was food safe but large enough. The water is only briefly in it.

I have found a 24' section is more than adequate to keep my cistern full.

WaterCatcher.PNG
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Water Catcher
 
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