glass bottles

Directing Water: Gutters and Rain Chains

Well, this spring weather has certainly lived up to its often called schizophrenic nature with the number of dry windy days mixed with pouring buckets rainy days and very few of the typical Portland grey drizzle days. I finally decided my house was due for a gutter installation to help direct water away from the perimeter. I planned my house to have a rain screen and no overhangs since water is going to get behind the siding anyway in a climate like the PNW and because a 3" overhang will not do much to provide protection below. There is some debate about whether or not the roof can extend wider than the road legal limit but when I'm towing my house down the road, I don't want to worry about the overhang hitting things.

I probably should have put more thought into gutters when I was installing my metal roof but I wanted to wait to see what would happen with rain runoff without them. Since my house has a shed roof which slopes to the back, the water dripping off of the roof usually has enough momentum on the metal surface to shoot off and land away from my house. But some of the water drips from the roof down the siding, hitting the windowsills and the fenders. The splashback from the fenders has been somewhat worrisome so that is why I thought a gutter on the backside of my house would help. While it does help, rain has a way of falling in all kinds of directions and it looks like I will need to spend some more time problem solving another solution for that area. The wheel well on the front of my house will be covered by my solar panel awning so I'm not too concerned about doing anything there.
I connected with Taylor Metals who made my roof panels and flashing to see if they had any gutters to match my roof color. I learned that while they can make custom metal components, it is much easier and cost effective to buy generic gutter components. I decided to go with unpainted galvanized to add another visual element to the exterior. I'm sure there are more unique ways of creating a gutter and downspout system (like this one in Seattle) but I decided to keep it simple. I also considered installing a few connected rain barrels to the downspout but realized that a 55 gallon drum will fill up quickly and also drain quickly once a yard of plants needs watering. I have seen many people here use a rain barrel in conjunction with their disconnected downspouts mostly to direct water away from their homes, less so for watering plants in the summer. More effective would be a cistern which we are not planning to install on this site.
Installation was not too difficult with the aid of tin snips, a hacksaw, pliers and drill for the self-tapping screws which connected the pieces. I also used gutter sealant (which I'm pretty sure is just silicone) at the seams. I assembled the full gutter length on the ground (they come in 10' sections) and had a helper hold it in place while I screwed in the hidden hangers to attach the gutter to my fascia board. I waited a few days to install the downspout to ensure I had a good gutter slope. I cut the downspout to length with my circular saw and metal blade. I am impressed with my metal working progression. :)
I had a leftover section of gutter which was the perfect length for my bike/tool shed so I installed it on the low side after trimming the corrugated metal roof. I experimented with cutting a hole and installing a downspout drop there instead of buying another gutter section with the downspout drop already in place. Being inexperienced with gutter installs, I prefer to use the prefabricated component. 
I had looked into rain chains, found them expensive and not quite what I wanted so I decided to make my own. I purchased some stainless steel chain, nuts and bolts. Then, I cut off the tops of wine bottles left over from a party and stung them onto the chain upside down, sliding a bolt through a chain link and adding a nut to the end to let gravity hold the bottle in place. This was not quite the elegant design solution I was hoping for but it can be easily modified over time. I still need to shorten the chain at the bottom and add something at the base. I was thinking a watering can that would spray water onto the lawn.
Check out my flickr for more photos of yard projects!