Rain Diverters: All You Need To Know

If your standard gutters don’t provide everything you need, you find gutters unappealing, or you simply can’t install gutters in certain areas. Rain diverters may be an excellent option to help alleviate some of your problems.

This is an ultimate resource about rain diverters so you can understand what they are, how they work, and if they would be suitable to fix the problems you’re having.

What Is a Rain Diverter?

Rain diverters are a low-profile device to place on top of your roof at any level which will divert water flowing down your roof and away from certain areas and potentially into gutters if any are available, which can then flow to the street, garden, or even into a holding tank if you prefer.

Why Would You Use a Rain Diverter?

Rain diverters are not an alternative or a replacement for gutters, but they can be used under certain conditions, including where aesthetically you don’t want gutters to be jutting out of your house, especially on certain types of houses where it may look strange to have gutters.

Often rain diverters will divert most rainwater to the sides of the house where gutters are installed.

You may also install rain diverters where it’s not practical or possible to install an entire gutter system but still need to keep rainwater away from certain areas, especially doorways or away from paths.

In areas with a lot of snow with no gutters, the diverters are a great way to stop melting snow from draining over your front door, paths, or other areas you want to keep dry.

How Does a Rain Diverter Work?

A rain diverter is a simple device that you place on any area of your roof; it has a flat bottom that is flush with the roof but a curved front that blocks water from flowing forward; it directs that water to either side, or you can slant the roof diverter, so water flows primarily down one side.

You need to measure how long the area is that you want to protect and then cut the roof diverter to be at least one foot longer on each side to give full coverage to the area you’re trying to protect or cut it long enough to divert to the area you want the water to flow to.

Because the roof diverter is a low-profile device, there is only so much water that it can divert at a time.

During extremely heavy rain, the diverter could “overflow” and allow some water to the area that it’s protecting, which is why it’s not a complete replacement or alternative to gutters. However, even gutters have limits and can overflow as well.

What Types of Rain Diverter Are Available On the Market?

You can buy a variety of prebuilt rain diverters, or you can fabricate your own by cutting PVC pipe or bending sheet metal.

There is nothing incredibly complex about the design of a rain diverter. However, if you make your own, you need to consider if it can be painted and if it will grow mold or need maintenance or any kind.

Rain diverters typically come in L shapes or J shapes, with the curved part being the block for the water.

Sheet metal from various materials can be used, including stainless steel, aluminum, and copper. You can also get plastic rain diverters, often made from PVC, though any durable outside plastic material can be used.

Rain diverters come precut at 10,’ but you can get them fabricated larger, and of course, you can cut 10’ strips into smaller pieces or even join multiple pieces together; you just need to ensure you’ve sealed the gap between the pieces thoroughly.

Many pre-made rain diverters come painted, so you can get a color that best matches your roof; otherwise, you can get unpainted and paint it yourself.

How Do You Install Rain Diverters?

Rain diverters are a simple product, but the installation can be a little complex. You need to ensure that you measure and position the rain diverter correctly to protect the area you want and have the water flow to where you want.

You also need to consider the damage you can do to your roof from installing roof diverters and from improper installation.

So have you left holes in the roof that will allow mold to grow or water to seep in?

Will the water flow to an area that will cause more problems?

If you’re not confident in the process of installing rain diverters, then consider searching online for a local roofer that offers the service.

If you’re confident and ready to go, let’s go through the steps required to install rain diverters.

  1. Buy rain diverters online or from a local store. Unfortunately, places like Home Depot or Lowes may not carry rain diverters. If you can’t find any, then you’ll need to fabricate your own.
  1. Measure the area you need to cover and cut your rain diverter to 2 feet longer than the area, or as long as you need to direct the water to a specific location.
  1. Use a flat pry bar or putty knife to lift part of the second row of shingles in the location you need to install the rain diverter.
  1. Slide the rain diverter under the shingles and position it so that the water flows where you want it to end up. You may need to eyeball this, or if you have a laser pointer, you can test where the water will go.
  1. You need to gently lift each of the shingles enough so that you can use roofing nails to hammer the rain diverter in place and ensure that the shingles will cover the nails once they come back down.
  1. Apply silicone, roofing cement, rubber flashing, or even caulking over the nails so that they are waterproof, use a healthy amount.
  1. Lay the shingles back down and push slightly so there is good contact with the silicone or other product, which will help adhere them back to the roof and further secure the rain diverter.
  1. Test your installation out by spraying a nose over your roof or directly into the rain diverter.

How Do You Build Your Own Rain Diverter?

If you’re unable to find a rain diverter locally and the online options are going to take too long, you may need to make your own rain diverter.

You might also find that you need a longer rain diverter than is available in the standard sizes, which are often maxed out at 10-12 feet long.

Looking at a rain diverter, you could probably figure out the basic steps for what you need to do: cut some sheet metal and bend it.

But let’s go through the process, so you get it right the first time.

  1. Measure out how long and how much sheet metal you’ll need.
  1. Buy whatever sheet metal you want; stainless steel, aluminum, and copper are the standard options used at stores.
  1. Put the sheet metal out on a flat surface that you can work on.
  1. Cut the sheet metal to be as long as you need and about eight inches deep. Use a utility knife and a framing square or something so you can keep the edges straight. You could use scissors as well if that’s your only option.
  1. Put the cut sheet metal between two pieces of wood or any kind of vice that can safely hold the sheet metal.
  1. You want to leave two inches of the sheet metal protruding, and it should be perfectly straight, with no angles or misalignment to the best of your ability.
  1. You need to bend the metal manually or use a rubber mallet or other whacking device to bend the entire metal sheet.
  1. If painting, then use sandpaper over the finished rain diverter so that paint will adhere to it.
  1. Spray paint the sheet metal to whatever color you prefer and let dry.
  1. You’re now ready to install your custom-made rain diverter on your roof.

Pros & Cons of Rain Diverters

It’s important to weigh up whether a rain diverter is a good option for your home before spending time and money getting them installed.

We can review some of the biggest pros and cons, which may help you decide.

Rain Diverter Pros

  • The rain diverters primary purpose is to redirect rainwater away from doorways, windows, paths, and other areas you don’t want heavily saturated. It does an excellent job at doing this if you don’t already have gutters.
  • Rain diverters are cheap and relatively easy to install by yourself, assuming you’re careful. It’s much more cost-effective than installing a full gutter system, and there are no maintenance costs with rain diverters, unlike gutters.
  • You can protect your roof from water pooling in certain areas, and you can protect your siding from being constantly exposed to water draining down. In addition, you can ensure it drains safely by directing water to a specific location.
  • Using a rain diverter, you can direct rainwater into tanks or other areas to reuse the rainwater for many different purposes, even watering your garden, drinking water for animals, or just being used later if there are water shortages.

Rain Diverter Cons

  • Rain diverters are low profile, but they can be seen, especially if they’re a different color from your roof.

So if you’re considering rain diverters in place of gutters, consider which one looks better because you can’t assume a piece of metal on your roof won’t look worse than stylish gutters that work better.

  • In colder climates, rain diverters can create ice dams which cause a block or dam so that ice and water can’t run off the roof, which can cause costly damage to your roof. The longer the ice dam is there, the more damage it can do.

Ice dams can cause water to leak under your roof, where it can start to affect internal ceilings and walls, which you’ll end up needing to repair, and if left unnoticed, could be a very costly repair.

If the ice dam is left for too long, it can also cause shingles to expand and shift, and even the beams under the shingles can become damaged, which is even more cost required.

What Can Diverted Rain Water Be Used for?

If you’re going to be using a rain diverter, you need to send the water somewhere. For many people, this just means off another part of the roof, but for some people, this could mean capturing and storing the water in tanks.

How big the tank is, depends on what you want to use it for, though this option does include a little more cost to get and install the tank. You could go cheaper and just redirect the water into a big bucket.

So what are some of the options to use this water for?

  • Drinking water for you and your family, however, this would also require a water purification system which may just start getting too expensive. Do not drink the water off your roof directly, or you could get sink. Also, your roof probably isn’t that clean.
  • Drinking water for animals, because animals can handle drinking outside water as they’re hardier than humans.
  • Water your plants or gardens with the collected water; you can do it manually or send the water through plastic tubing into your gardens or even down a spout to spray over your gardens.

Conclusion

Rain diverters can be a great option in homes that can’t have a full gutter system or simply don’t want one.

You may even find some areas of your house just look strange with a gutter on, so the rain diverter may be a better option for you.

It’s essential to understand what a rain diverter can and can’t do; it’s a very simple device that could still end up causing you issues if you don’t plan it out well. The biggest thing to consider is where you are diverting the water, and can cause problems for your home.

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