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Green Building & Rain Gutters

Green Building: Water Efficiency and Energy Savings

When talking of Green Building, two of the most important terms addressed are: (1) Water Efficiency, and (2) Energy Savings.

In conventional Green terms, Water Efficiency includes Low Flow Faucets, Low Flow Showerheads, High-Efficiency Dishwashers, High-Efficiency Toilets, and High Efficiency Clothes Washers… ALL VERY, VERY IMPORTANT.

In conventional Green terms, Energy Efficiency includes Tight Construction, Improved Thermal Systems, Right Sized HVAC, Low-E Windows, Energy Efficient Lighting, Energy Efficient Appliances and Guaranteed Performance… also ALL VERY, VERY IMPORTANT.

Not so obvious, BUT EQUALLY IMPORTANT are

  1. Water efficiency with regard to the exterior of all buildings, and
  2. Energy efficiency with regard to the personal physical time, labor, cost and safety needed to ensure exterior building water removal efficiency.

So, with regard to Green Building we will be talking about the importance of rain gutters! The emphasis will be on rain gutters working properly doing the only job they are supposed to do: Move rain water away from a building every time it rains to save that building from expensive, even dangerous water damage.

The Facts . . .

If rain gutters were not needed and had no practical function, they simply would not be installed on most homes and buildings around the world, but they are. The fact is rain gutters are needed. An additional fact is most rain gutters simply do not work when it rains (defined as always moving water away from a structure when it rains) because “rain gutters become clogged.”

First, let’s clear up the term “clogged.” “Clogged” can mean many things, but one thing it does NOT mean when talking about rain gutters is this: If there is debris in a rain gutter but all the water flowing into that gutter flows over, under and around that debris, out of the gutter, down the downspout and away from the building, THAT GUTTER IS NOT CLOGGED! Is just has debris in it.

On the other hand, if for any reason rain water cannot flow out of a rain gutter, down the downspout and away from the building then THAT GUTTER IS CLOGGED.

Further to the above 2 facts is this 3rd fact: If the hole in a gutter is clear where the gutter meets the downspout (the area in the gutter known as the outlet) then water will ALWAYS flow out of that gutter EVEN IF THERE IS DEBRIS IN THE REST OF THE GUTTER. Water will flow under, over and around that debris in accordance with the Law of Water Flow stating that water ALWAYS follows the path of least resistance.

{Some might argue that if the gutter is filled with debris in a manner that the debris has formed a cement-like, non-permeable hardness, then the above “fact” is wrong. And that could be true except for one other law, the Law of “Too Much Weight in a Rain Gutter” which clearly states that if this situation occurs, as a gutter gets heavier with debris, that gutter will become so heavy it will detach and fall off the building before the cement-like formation can reach the top of the gutter.}

With all that said we now know there are only two functional situations with a rain gutter:

  1. A rain gutter works and all water flows out of it, or
  2. A rain gutter does not work and water overflows both front and back, or stagnates in that gutter.

We want to address #2 above, the gutter that does not work. We want you to know WHY and we want you to know HOW to make rain gutters work every time it rains.

The position of this writer is that THE OUTLET IS THE CRITICAL AREA IN ALL RAIN GUTTERS. Only a clear outlet enables a gutter to work. So we state the following as fact:

If the outlet in a rain gutter is clear, water will always flow out of that gutter even if there is debris in the rest of that gutter.

Conversely, a gutter can be perfectly clean but if the outlet is clogged, water will never flow out of that gutter, NEVER.

We will first address Water Efficiency with regard to the Exterior of the building. Simply stated, water is an enemy of all buildings. Water, seeping on, over and into a building will, over time, cause expensive, even catastrophic damage to a building. Therefore consistent and properly working rain gutters are essential to the long-term soundness of all buildings. The key to ensuring prevention from water damage is keeping the outlets clean so when it rains that rain water will flow out of the gutter and away from that building. This is Water Efficiency with regard to Green building.

Yes, clearing debris out of the rest of the gutter is a good thing to do. But of much greater importance in terms of a rain gutter “working” is ensuring the outlet is never clogged, especially just before a rainfall.

Many gadgets have been developed claiming to keep the gutter and outlet clear of debris. Some work to some degree, some don’t work at all and some even cause clogging. Until now, the only way a user can know for sure that the outlet is not clogged is to climb up there and look into the outlet. And that is why this important task is often ignored… it’s a dirty, dangerous, time-consuming task that is easy to ignore.

I said “until now” because The SpoutOff ( makes checking and cleaning outlets in rain gutters easy, fast, safe and very cost-effective. The SpoutOff is basically 4 powder-coated aluminum parts that replace small outlets in the gutter and replace old-fashioned straps or cleats that hold downspouts onto a building. These cleverly designed SpoutOff parts enable a user to remove a 1, 2 even 3-story downspout from a building while the user is standing safely down on the ground. This makes checking and cleaning the outlet fast, easy and safe. (Note: A 2-story downspout only weighs about 6 pounds).

The SpoutOff outlet is 3 to 4 times larger than standard outlets with no lip around its top to catch debris and start the clogging. The SpoutOff outlet is the complete width of the gutter and it creates a very large hole for water and debris to fall through and down the downspout. This unique design actually creates a “waterfall” effect from the gutter and a “debris flushing” effect down the downspout. Essentially, debris has no place to go but down when it reaches The SpoutOff outlet.

The SpoutOff Clip that secures the downspout to the building is easily removable, no tools needed. This enables the user to take the downspout off the building, bringing the outlet down to the ground for easy checking and cleaning. A 1 story downspout weighs about 3 pounds, 2-story about 6 pounds and 3-story about 9 pounds. One person can check and clean a SpoutOff outlet in less than 1 minute… all from the safety of the ground!

Now let me address Energy Savings. No, I am not talking electricity here, I am talking YOU… YOUR ENERGY SAVINGS OR YOUR MAINTENANCE PEOPLE!

How much of your energy does it take just thinking about having to clean rain gutters? Getting out the ladder? Carrying the ladder to the area where you will put it up? Putting it up? Climbing up there to check the outlet? Cleaning the outlet 2 stories up? Noticing clogging in the elbows and trying to clean them out… 2 stories up? Climbing back down the ladder? And then moving the ladder to the next outlet to repeat the above procedure… 3 or 4 or 5 times? Lots of ENERGY, YOUR ENERGY! And your time and safety!

You can clean 5 SpoutOff outlets described above in less than 1 minute each for a total of 5 minutes, all from the safety of the ground… lot’s of Energy Savings: Yours!

If you want to be GREEN with Water Efficiency and Energy Efficiency, use The SpoutOff. The SpoutOff can be installed with new rain gutter systems or The SpoutOff can be retrofitted onto present gutters that are in good condition. Check out The SpoutOff at