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Green Basics

Inground Gutters

Inground Gutters Keep Water Away from the Basement


Inground gutters don’t need maintenance.

When sized and installed properly, rain gutters collect water and move it away from the house efficiently. But gutters require periodic (and sometimes frequent) cleaning to remove leaves and other debris, and in snow country gutters can be torn completely off the eaves.

An alternative is an inground gutter, which diverts water away from the foundation wall. It’s out of sight, doesn’t require any maintenance, and is relatively simple to install, even as a retrofit.

Start by digging a 1-ft. deep trench around the perimeter of the house. It should be between 2 ft. and 4 ft. wide with the bottom sloped away from the house, 1/4 in. per foot. Lay the membrane in the bottom of the trench. Where it meets the foundation wall, the membrane can be held in place by a piece of pressure-treated furring and masonry fasteners. This prevents any water from seeping between the foundation wall and the membrane.

The width of the trench would depend in part on the roof overhang. If the membrane is to go all the way to the foundation wall, it should be at least wide enough to reach the drip line from the roof.

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  1. servant74 | | #1

    George W in Crawford - Great ground level drainage
    GWBush had a Texas White House in Crawford TX. I loved the wide porch overhangs and no gutters (He had lots of post oak trees that loose most of their leaves in the spring rather than fall). The overhangs went into wide gravel filled surface level gutters that could be walked on if needed. The gravel filled gutters drained into a large tank (or cistern in Texas speak) that was used for non-potable water. Most houses in that area have no basement and are either pier&beam or slab on grade. I think his was slab on grade. -- I loved that house, it was energy efficient and small by Washington standards, and inherently energy efficient. I have no idea what the Secret Service and security 'upgrades' did to it though. -- No matter if you liked him or not, his TX White House was relatively green and energy efficient, and built for the central TX climate.

  2. jollygreenshortguy | | #2

    When it rains it's often windy. On a 2-story house with a 2' overhang, most, if not all of the water draining off the roof and dripping off the eave is going to get blown against the facade of the house. Add to this the other rainwater being blown against the facade and you've got a considerable amount of water. On a rainy, windy day, that water is going to look for every possible crack and crevice to get into.
    This is why I always recommend a good gutter/downspout system, with details at the ground to carry that water well away from the house. I also recommend french drains, and a 2' wide strip at the foundation, sloped away from the house, with a water resistant surface. I also tell my clients not to plant anything or put any irrigation lines in this 2' zone. It's a sort of dry moat encircling the house.
    The first step in solving a problem is to avoid creating one.

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