DIY Gutters and Downspouts: Everything You Need to Know

At BlueBarrel, we specialize in DIY rainwater catchment systems. Gutters and downspouts are an essential part of the drainage system on any home. They are also necessary for efficient collection of rainwater.

In the rainwater harvesting world, gutters and downspouts together are known as the “conduit system,” along with the downspout diverter that takes the plentiful roof runoff into rain barrels or tanks.

For those who like to tackle their own home projects, this article combines a variety of resources for DIY gutter installation, repair, and maintenance.

But first, a few definitions:

Which is Which: Gutters vs. Downspouts

Schematic showing labels for roof gutters (running horizontally) and downspouts (running vertically)

Gutters vs. downspouts: It's common to mix these terms, but it's important to know which element you're talking about when planning a rain barrel system.

Gutters run horizontally across the bottom of each roof segment to catch water running off the roof.

Downspouts are the vertical elements that bring this water to the ground. They either release it onto the landscape, or into a drain pipe.

Installing Gutters and Downspouts

Whether you're building a new structure, or living in a home that doesn't yet have gutters and downspouts, this is a project you may consider doing yourself. This is a simple way to save money on an important home project, so let’s take a look at the process for DIY installation.

Our friends at Next Modular have provided a how-to guide for standard gutters and downspouts, including materials needed, and site prep:

Cleaning Gutters

well-designed rain barrel system is a low-maintenance addition to your garden. Keeping your gutters clean is the most important thing you can do to keep your inlet screening from clogging. For a self-cleaning system like The BlueBarrel System™, gutter cleanout is virtually the only maintenance the system will need.

If you're not a fan of getting on the roof, take these tips from the experts at Frazier Roofing. Learn how to clean gutters without a ladder!:

Repairing Gutters and Downspouts

If your gutters leak, it will limit the amount of water that gets into your rain barrels or tanks.

Repairing your own guttering may seem like a daunting idea but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Not with these tips from our friends at Bespoke Guttering, anyway:

How to Divert Roof Water Into Rain Barrels

Now that you're ready with gutters and downspouts (thanks to our expert roofing and guttering collaborators!) our team here at BlueBarrel can help you with your rainwater harvesting project. Browse this very site for all you need to know about DIY rain barrels.

A well-designed downspout diverter is the key piece that takes water from your downspout into rain barrels. BlueBarrel's specialty design includes a diverter that handles system overflow automatically as an additional benefit.

Read all about downspout diverters for rainwater harvesting:

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