It Never Rains In Southern California
October 10, 2013 10:46 AM   Subscribe

First of our annual 4 rainy days in San Diego came yesterday and we learned all sorts of fun things about the new house - one of which is, as there are zero gutters, the rain just cascades directly off the angled roof on to our patio, and patio furniture, and things left on the patio because it never rains. Looking for a minimalist, easy DIY gutter solution. Pic and slightly more info inside.

Visited HomeDepot/Lowes online and all of their gutters are these massive things that, in addition to looking unsightly on our one level home and a bit outside of my DIY skills, are serious overkill for the tiny amount of rain we get.

Here is the patio roof area

On my run this morning I checked out all of my neighbors houses, about 20% have a gutter system, the rest just let it fall. So clearly people are surviving. I just need to direct rain away from my patio, the rest of the splash area is livable for now. Is my only solution installing a big gutter over the patio side of the house?
posted by BlerpityBloop to Home & Garden (13 answers total)
I'm rather surprised that your home inspector didn't point this out to you.

Gutters serve an important purpose for your house. They keep water away from your foundation. Here's an article about it.

Given that an improperly installed gutter can actually damage your house, I'd leave it to a professional.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:57 AM on October 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

How about an awning assembly? Metal roof, or fiber roofing in any color you choose. Most have metal posts--some are decorative. The assembly is put together with nuts and bolts. This would be installed under the eave of your roof, and extend as far into the patio as you want. Most of the roofing panels come in either 6-or 8- foot lengths. Make the awning slope downward about two inches for every six feet or so, and you'll not have any drainage issues.

If you are even a little handy, you could make 4X4 posts. Fill a large coffee can with concrete, and put a U-shaped post bracket in it to stabilize the post (You bury the can so that the bracket is about an inch or so above ground.) This way you get some shade plus divert the water into the yard. Creating a wooden frame for the awning would be a bit more spendy, and you'd need a carpenter's advice on how to attach it to your house. If zoning issues arise from attaching the awning to the house, you can just put the supporting posts under the eave.
posted by mule98J at 10:59 AM on October 10, 2013

oops. Yeah, awnings.
posted by mule98J at 10:59 AM on October 10, 2013

Best answer: If you want to direct runoff water from your roof away from your patio, installing a simple vinyl gutter is the easiest and most economical way to do it. You should be able to do it for about $100 and a couple hours' work. A standard vinyl gutter would easily fit on the side of your roof without taking up additional vertical space. I'm confused why a standard gutter seems "massive" to you.

Your only other real option to redirect runoff is to change the slope of your roof, which is more expensive and time-consuming.

Or, you could just bring the wine bottles and dishes inside on the 4 days of rain we get down here.
posted by hootenatty at 11:01 AM on October 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: The Home Inspector did point it out, and the fact that our house has zero insulation in the walls or crawl-space attic....two things you don't *really* need in San Diego.

But the house is from the 60's, on a slab, and has never had gutters, so it wasn't a huge concern. As this is a new house, money is a little tight, so we are picking and choosing our battles. I just need something quick and dirty, but not sad looking to keep my patio area dry on the rare days it does rain.
posted by BlerpityBloop at 11:01 AM on October 10, 2013

I'm not sure why this matters at all. If it's raining, you're patio is going to be wet, gutters or no.

You could buy something like this, nail it to the side of the roof, and caulk the top of the joint, but it'd be ugly.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 11:42 AM on October 10, 2013

Yeah, it never rains in San Diego. The lack of rain is the reason you see so many pergolas instead of covered patios. We just don't get enough rain to deal with putting a roof over the outdoor space. From your question it seems like you want to keep the patio dry. If so, you need an awning or a roof. Gutters just direct rain from the roof to the sewer system.

If money's a bit tight after the big move, then I'd give it a year and have a pro come and install gutters. I've lived in North Park and in Pacific Beach and nearly all the houses have gutters. Maybe your neighborhood was built by a single developer who cheaped out on gutters. They do seem to exist in the rest of San Diego.

Congrats on the new house!
posted by 26.2 at 11:46 AM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think gutters fall into the category of things that one should either "do it right or don't do it at all". I mean you could probably rig something up involving PVC pipe cut in half and some strap hangers, just off the top of my head, but I'm not sure if it would be cheaper than the cheapest vinyl gutters. You could also do a rain diverter, which is typically used on un-guttered houses to keep water from coming off the roof right above doors. They're pretty standard on older homes in New England that predate gutters.

But just so you understand, the failure mode of gutters and rain diverters when they don't work right is very bad. Like, flooding your house / ruining your roof bad. Maybe not right away (they take time to clog with debris), but a poorly designed gutter system -- especially in an area where you don't get a lot of rain and thus don't test it out very often -- could be a lot more trouble than it's worth.

If you decide to rig something up, get some good DIY books and be sure you put in enough slope in the actual gutter itself, you have all the joints oriented correctly, etc. And make sure you clean it periodically (at minimum, test it) before the rain each year, just so that you don't have a nasty surprise in the form of water dripping from a ceiling.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:01 PM on October 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

Kadin2048: You could also do a rain diverter, which is typically used on un-guttered houses to keep water from coming off the roof right above doors.

I was going to suggest exactly this earlier, but I could think of the right term for it. I think it would be perfect for your needs, but as Kadin2048 points out, when gutters go bad, they go very bad, so it might be worth getting professional help to design and install it. The problem will be finding a carpenter/roofer who will be comfortable with not just putting in a regular gutter system.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:29 PM on October 10, 2013

Gutters don't really look that bad once you paint them to match your house trim. They protect your house foundation, so while you don't have to install them right away, I do recommend doing it at some point. In the mean time, you could set up an IFTT recipe that emails you the day before rain is forecast, so you remember to clear up the patio. That is what I do - even though I have gutters installed!
posted by Joh at 1:18 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks guys. The patio will get wet regardless of gutters, but it seems it all runs down on 2 specific points rather than an evenly dispersed trickle. I'll blame that on our aging roof.

I'm not averse to gutters, just thought a temporary fix might be cheaper than a full house lining. I'll look in to self install gutters this weekend for the patio area. Awesome advice.
posted by BlerpityBloop at 1:24 PM on October 10, 2013

Gutters are easy as hell to install and dirt cheap. I have no idea why anyone would suggest cutting PVC pipe in half. Its more expensive and how would you even?? Also I can't think of any way you could improperly install gutters that would cause your ceiling to leak. Unless you make them higher than the roof I guess if that's even possible. If they clog up the water will just spill on the ground not into your house. I have tested this extensively due to some big trees by my place clogging my gutters on a regular basis. Unclogging them is simple.

As to your foundation, if the water from the downspouts is pooling near your house just get a long diverter and run it out a few feet. That's a dirt grading problem, not a gutter problem.
posted by fshgrl at 2:55 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

For the length of the area you want to protect, a rain diverter is not going to work. Installing gutters isn't hard. The only trick is to get enough fall to keep the water flowing to the downspout, and there's plenty of installation instructions on the net to give you information on how to do it properly. Probably could be done for $100/$150, depending on the length of your roof.

While the comments about improper gutter installation are correct, I don't think you're going to have an issue, as the amount of rainfall you're going to get is an inconvenience rather than a daily or even seasonal fact of life. You have plenty of warm weather to dry things out and avoid any type of rot, mold, or mildew.

Seriously, for the amount of wet weather you get, wouldn't it be easier to buy a decent tarp and throw it over the furniture?
posted by BlueHorse at 9:35 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

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