September 05, 2018 6 min read

One of the most attractive and beneficial ways to transport rainwater off your property is with an underground gutter drainage system. But those benefits can be outweighed by underground gutter drainage problems if the system is not properly installed or maintained. Check out GutterBrush Leaf Guard's top tips for keeping your in-ground drainage going strong.

Via downspouts, water no longer needs to flow across the top of landscaping or around the foundations of buildings. Water flowing over your lawn, soil or flowerbeds can be messy, muddy and cause erosion. Rerouting water where it can pose no harm is made simple by underground gutter drainage like French drains.

In colder climates, over-the-soil drainage can cause additional problems. One of the biggest involves the flow of rainwater across a walkway or driveway, which can freeze into a sheet of ice. The risk of a slip-and-fall accident can be enough to motivate a homeowner to pursue an in-ground drainage project.

When you see a home's downspouts (also known as leader pipes) entering the ground, the underground drainage system is typically constructed one of two ways:

  • With slightly sloped underground pipes that allow the water to flow downhill, exiting on top of the ground somewhere further away from the building.
  • With underground pipes that empty into a large, underground drainage pit, hopefully large enough to capture the water. These pits are usually initially filled with drainage stone so the water can fill the air space in between the stones.

Although both of the above scenarios can work like clockwork when they're new and unclogged, years of drainage can end up carrying debris through the system. With debris clogging up the underground drainage, water is no longer able to enter and flow through.

Underground Drainage Problems

Many homes have gutters and downspouts that are unprotected. These unprotected gutters let debris of all sizes enter the gutter, where it travels down the downspout and into the underground pipes.

While the in-ground drainage system might allow a certain amount of debris to enter and continue to flow, allowing such debris into the system will eventually cause the system to reach capacity and eventually clog. Clearing such clogs can be very expensive-and in some cases, impossible.

A drainage pit filled with stone may receive just enough debris that the rate of water flowing down the downspout will exceed the rate of water that the pit can accept, causing back pressure and overflow. For this reason, it is a good idea to have a loose or wide-open fitting between the downspout and the drainage pipe. This allows water to overflow at the loose fitting down near the ground when the underground drainage system can no longer accept 100% of the water.

Such a loose fitting keeps the water from backing up the leader pipe all the way to the gutter. Water will take the path of least resistance, so it makes sense for that path to allow outflow down near the ground rather than up at the fascia and soffit of the roof.

While a home may be getting away with allowing debris to enter the pipe or pit for now, eventually the system will reach its capacity. The solution that makes the most logical and financial sense is to stop the debris from entering the drainage system in the first place.

Rain barrel technology uses screens and filters to keep the debris from entering the rain barrel, but they require high levels of attention and maintenance clearing. The screens and filters need to constantly and consistently be cleaned and maintained or the system will clog quickly.

Solving One Gutter Problem, Creating Another

Early in my career, I had a customer complain that none of her underground drainage pipes were flowing. We were able to clear the pipes with a Roto-Rooter-type of service, which was both expensive and time consuming. Of course, the customer immediately asked: "How do I keep these storm drainage pipes from clogging again?"

Our solution was to put a small wire strainer, which is in the shape of a lightbulb, into each gutter outlet tube. These wire strainers worked well to keep the debris from entering the leader pipe, but they also caused her gutters to overflow every two to three weeks.

In short, we had solved one problem but we had created a maintenance nightmare because the wire strainers had only a small amount of surface area to trap the debris. Within a very short amount of time, leaves and tree seeds would pile up surrounding the wire strainer, completely stopping the water flow and causing the rainwater to pour over the side of the gutter.

I remember back then wishing that there were a full-length gutter strainer on the market. The greater the amount of surface area encompassed by the gutter strainer, the more debris the strainer will accept while continuing to flow freely. This would result in less maintenance and fewer headaches to keep the entire system functioning.

Fast forward several years, and such a solution exists. The GutterBrush Leaf Guard acts as a full-length gutter strainer. Not only does it keep debris out of the storm drains, but it's incredibly easy to clean and maintain. Click here to check out the full-length gutter strainer.

Limitations of Gutter Covers and Screens

Gutter covers, screens and other helmet-type devices do exist, but they do not all operate in a manner that will keep your storm drains clear. The helmet-type devices, also known as covers, have a slot at the outermost edge, which is supposed to allow roof water into the gutter while also keeping out debris.

These devices have several issues that prevent them from being ideal solutions. When it rains heavily, the cover can cause the fast rain water to flow right past the gutter and pour over the side. Such fast-moving water never even gets a chance to enter the gutter.

Additionally, while the rainwater slot is thin, it is also long. That means long, thin debris like twigs, leaves, pine needles maple seeds and other thin items can merrily flow with the water right into the slot. Only fatter, larger debris is blocked from entering the downspouts and storm drains.

When gutter covers and screens require maintenance, there is the added difficulty of requiring tools, skill and fasteners to disassemble and reinstall for cleaning.

The gutter screens that have large openings to accept the water continue to also accept debris. Any debris in a lengthwise position can still fit through the screen apertures. This means lengthwise and small debris will continue to enter your storm drains if you use a screen with large enough openings.

Use a screen with the smallest openings and you have another problem. While the microscreen openings are small enough to keep your gutters, underground drainage and storm drains clear, they are so small that they clog up in no time. Like the gutter covers, they also cause the fast water in heavy rains to over flow past the gutter.

When leaves lay on the screens, they create a flat mat of sticky debris which also adds to the problem. This layer of debris stops the water from entering the gutter, causing it to bypass the gutters altogether.

In order to avoid the high cost of having to clean out your underground storm drainage system, some sort of strainer or filter is required. A degree of maintenance will also be required to keep the drainage clear and the gutters, downspouts and drainage flowing.

Small strainer devices can be used solely over the outlets and downspouts, but those small-surface-area devices require very frequent maintenance because they do not have enough surface area to accept a volume of debris while also continuing to flow. While they'll keep debris out of the downspout, they will also clog frequently and result in overflow.

Solving Underground Drainage Problems

The greater the surface area of the strainer, the less maintenance required. And a full-length gutter strainer, like the GutterBrush Leaf Guard, covers the entire gutter area. The device keeps debris out of your gutter which, in turn, keeps debris out of your downspout and underground drainage system. All this while decreasing the amount of maintenance required to keep the entire system flowing.

Available in five different diameters or widths to suit a range of different gutters, the GutterBrush Leaf Guard is also easy to install with two simple steps:

  1. Clean out your gutters: Remove all existing gunk, leaves and debris. Also check your downspouts to make sure they're clear.
  2. Insert GutterBrush: Fill gutters end-to-end with GutterBrush, which is available in 36-inch and 18-inch lengths. Bend around corners and, if a piece is too long, simply fold the brush back into itself to make it fit. No need for tools, cutting or fasteners.

Order your GutterBrush Leaf Guard today.

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