Gutters and Rain Barrels

By Todd Fratzel on Energy Conservation

It has been pouring rain here for two days and it reminded me about how many homes I see around here with significant water damage. One of my biggest recommendations to clients when they build a new home is to invest in good gutters. The conversation typically turns to the home owner telling me that having gutters in New England is a bad idea because of the snow and ice. I’ll leave that arguement / disagreement for another post but I will say that I use them and I never have trouble with ice and snow.

The reason that I strongly recommend gutters is simple. An average 1,000 sq. ft. roof will produce over 600 gallons of water from 1 inch of rain! So without gutters you now have 600 gallons of water splashing against your house after it hits the ground and soaking into the ground along your foundation. Now it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out all the problems that can arise from all this water hitting your house and sitting around your foundation. The first solution is to install gutters and hook them into a foundation drain that drains away from the house.

The better solution and one that I may try to do this summer is to hook your gutter down spouts into a rain barrel. By hooking up a rain barrel to the gutter down spout you can capture a large amount of water to use watering flower gardens, vegetable gardens and even your lawn. The footprint of our home is roughly 2,000 sq. ft. with the garage. So if I were to use just one 55 gallon rain barrel at one of the down spouts I should be able to capture a significant amount of water throughout the summer. As you can see from the sketch hooking up a rain barrel is a fairly easy DIY project. Right now I’m talking to a couple of rain barrel suppliers in hopes that one of them may want to send me a demo so that I can install it and write a review for them.

About the author

Todd Fratzel

I'm full time builder for a large construction company in New Hampshire. I run their design-build division that specializes in custom homes, commercial design-build projects and sub-divisions. I'm also a licensed civil and structural engineer with extensive experience in civil and structural design and home construction. My hope is that I can share my experience in the home construction, home improvement and home renovation profession with other builders and home owners. I'm also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Tool Box Buzz. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, suggestions or you'd like to inquire about advertising on this site.

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  1. Jennifer says:

    Not in New England here, of course… and we get WAY less rainfall than you do…

    We don’t have gutters… the house has never had them. I’ve been wondering if we need them, but can’t decide…

  2. theartofengineering says:

    Yes! Rain gutters are so important. Tomorrow we close on a house that is 35 years old and doesn’t have gutters. The patio door and garage side door are completely rotted out from the water that has dripped on them for years. The foundation on one side is also starting to sink. It could have all been avoided if there had been gutters on the house.

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