Taming My Gushing Gutters

I have done a lot of work to keep my porch from flooding recently. I jetted the drains, cleaned paint off of channel inlets, added additional piping to take water away to the back yard, and cleaned up a rotted door. All the work to clear the channel drain in the pool decking has helped the water move away more quickly, but when it rains hard a ton of water still floods down onto the porch. Here is the issue.

I have a really big section of roof across the back of the house that drains down to the pool area. If we get a mildly heavy rain coming in, the water coming off the roof has so much speed it shoots right over the gutter. Here is a shot from a low angle on the roof. You can’t even see the gutter.

To fix this issue I am going to install some gusher guards. They are usually for the corners of roof where you funnel a lot of water together and get high flows. Instead I am going to install them flat along that back section of gutter.

At first I was only able to find a few packs of the guards in town. I did a little over half of the gutter run back in August, then got distracted with hurricanes and work. I did get to test my theory out though. We had a duck drowner rain storm and I was able to capture this shot.

The area to the left of the red line has no guards, the area to the right does. Some water still gets past the guards on the right, but is largely captured. This is mostly due to the supports used between the pool enclosure and the roof line. I couldn’t fit a guard over them, so they let water skip right over the gutter. I don’t need to capture 100% of it, just enough to keep the deck from getting flooded badly.

Eventually I was able to pick up the remainder of the guards and get them installed. Now the entire long stretch of roof is covered.

If I repeat the low angle shot of the roof line, you can see the water will hit those guards and be guided into the gutter instead of jumping right over. Hopefully I can stop dealing with leaky items for a while.

Leaky Pool Problem

It seems that I am stuck in a bit of a leak rut right now. I fixed the suburban just in time to realize I have a pool leak. There is a great test where you put a bucket on your pool steps and fill it to the same level as the pool. After a few days if the level is lower in the pool than the bucket, then you know it is a leak, and not just evaporation.

I did that and attempted my own leak detection tests. 30 minutes in the pool with a mask and syringe of ink didn’t turn anything up, so I called the pros. They told us it was under a pony tail palm tree in the back planter bed.

I don’t know if the plant was to blame, but it was right on top of the problem area and a lot of roots grew around the pipe. We pulled the two shrubs and saved the palms to another location. I started digging to find the water line, and sure enough. Those leak detection folks knew what they were doing. It was right there under the little palm. The elbow has some kind of issue.

I plugged all the return lines into the pool with plumber’s putty because the corks I could get were too small for the job. After that and letting the system drain down I was able to cut out the bad elbow. It is tough working at arm’s length in a muddy hole.

I drained the last of the water, cleaned the pipe and installed a new elbow. A compression fitting went between the horizontal pipe and the new elbow.

After letting the cement cure for a while I pulled the plugs to let water in, and eventually fired up the pump. No more leaks! The elbow was under some kind of stress and had a growing crack on the bottom side.

The back looks a little sad without the plants, but I bet we will get some potted plants going in no time.

My Storied Soggy Suburban

I have an 18 year old suburban I use to make runs to the hardware store. Plywood, piles of rock, plumping parts, etc. It has been slowly degrading with an increasing number of cosmetic blemishes and features on the fritz. I normally don’t mind these too much, but I had a really odd one. I opened up the door after not having used it for a few weeks and there was mold EVERYWHERE! I needed to pick up stuff that day, so I cleaned it all and moved on with life. I thought it must have been raining or something the last time I used it.

I made a vow to drive it more often and didn’t think about it. I did notice though, that the windows were always fogged up every morning. Everything was super humid inside. I got in one night when it was raining to look for a leak and couldn’t find a thing. I crawled all around and finally got over to the driver side. The carpet made a sickly squish sound. It was soaking wet.

I saw water drops under the dash, but could never locate the issue. Took it to the mechanic and they said it was a deteriorated windshield seal. Got the windshield replaced, still more water showed up when it rained. Now I had all the dash bits apart and I could see it was coming in from high up on the A pillar. It actually looked like it was coming out of the folds of metal around the frame. I thought the roof rack was leaking water into the layers of metal that make up the roof.

The screws were all incredibly rusted, and the threaded segments in the body were in poor shape as well. I pulled everyone off, cleaned the area, replaced all the hardware with fresh stainless and caulked everything. Leak check? Yep, still leaks!

I had been trying to use fans to dry out the carpet, but this was the point when Dorian was bearing down on us. After we got setup for the hurricane I started going through and pouring water around to see if I could induce the problem. Pouring water on just the driver’s door seal would cause it to leak out of the windshield area. Pulling the door seal off I noticed it was in rough shape, and behind it was seams of metal.

I think what is happening is that water gets past the seals and rides in the bottom of that U channel the door seal makes and gets soaked up into the seams of metal. The top of the door is higher than the A pillar.

Water starts up high on the door seal, soaks in, and comes out starting near the upper part of the windshield (blue arrow). The picture below shows it from the inside. It comes out along the whole A pillar, starting up at the top edge.

To remedy this issue I put some flowable silicone in a syringe with a thin plastic tip and shot it all along the drivers and passengers side door seams.

I ordered new door seals and when they came in I removed the old ones. It turns out there is a U shape of metal in there that helps keep everything clamped and sealed to that inner lip of the door opening. The metal had fatigued and wouldn’t hold the seal shut anymore. Dry rot on the rubber didn’t help.

The new seal fit nicely on the door opening lip, and was new and puffy enough to make the door slightly harder to close. It seals well now! Through a minor rain, carwash, and direct spraying with the water hose nothing has leaked in.

It took forever to get the carpet dry. The padding underneath was super soaked and I couldn’t figure out how to remove it. Eventually I just put my dehumidifier in the truck and sealed it up for a day. It got hot and dry and eventually moved all that water out of the carpets. Hopefully it will stop smelling like a bog and attracting frogs from now on out.

Hurricane Dorian

Though the storm’s impact will be felt for years to come in the Bahamas, hurricane Dorian has left us with little negative to report. Honestly the only thing is that, Nigel, our beloved new lime tree was felled. Not sure if it had an issue with the trunk, or if we didn’t have it staked well enough. Someday I will get a real lime tree to grow big and tall and give me lots of limes.

I have updated the hurricane guide with a few minor pointers. One piece of advice I have in there is to do a practice run of your shutters at least once to make sure everything fits right. Sure enough, I had put it off and ended up needing a lot of work to get everything in place. There is a screen that goes across the back of the porch. The anchors in the pool deck were all completely full of crud. Some even had broken off studs that required me to drill them out.

I spent hours clearing them out with a pick and compressed air. Thankfully there was plenty of time to work on this. A Fast moving storm would have induced a bit more panic. The other issue was that the two screens used to come together into some kind of bar at the corner of the porch. That doesn’t exist anymore, and the screens don’t really mesh together.

I just used some rope to lace everything up, but it was a hokey solution. I am going to get some kevlar cord that doesn’t stretch and has a high test load to pull it all together next time.

Our shed seemed pretty well built, but I cut a piece of 2×4 and ripped an edge so it would go over the door threshold and push the door shut securely. I also marked where screws should go so as to best tie them into the frame of the ramp. This is easy to install and remove, and guarantees that the doors will stay shut.

While I waited out the storm I had a lot of time on my hands. I spent it putting all the hurricane hardware in order. It was in a loose bucket, and is now in organized bins. This has the bolts, nuts, anchors and install tools I need to put up the back screen. Including instructions would be good too!

Going through all the hardware I ended up throwing out more than half of it. Someone had used a #2 philips bit or something. The heads all had some damage, and many were heavily stripped out. Replacing this will mean an easier install next time.

Conclusion: If you haven’t checked the hurricane hardware for your house, assume something is going to be wrong with it. Even if you have, and it has been years, it is worth a check.

Smoked Bacon Hurricane Prep

Like a towel on an intergalactic trip, nothing says “I’m prepared for a hurricane” like hurricane rations. No hurricane rations are better than smoked bacon. I am taking Lucky’s thick cut peppered bacon and hickory smoking it at 325F. 30 or so minutes ought to do it.

Hurricane Dorian is right around the corner and we still don’t know if it will be standoffish or come up close and give us a big hurricane hug. As usual I have learned some lessons from this go around and will be updating the guide when it is all over. Hard to believe this picturesque landscape will soon harbor harsh winds and torrential rains. I hope everyone stays safe and sane through the ordeal. Good night and good luck!

Sprinkler Tools

I have been doing a lot of trenching and digging in my yard in service of a rock border project that has been going on for months now. One result of that project has been a lot of sprinkler repair. I have broken pipes underground while cutting up roots, and tried to dig straight through hidden sprinklers. That plus regular sprinkler maintenance has been a new chore for me. The last house didn’t have them and I am learning on the fly what I have and how to fix it.

Most of this is pretty routine plumbing, but repairing or replacing sprinkler heads is a bit different. They are buried, and often very overgrown with grass. Once you get to them, they tend to be tough to pull out of the ground. To help with all this I 3D printed some tools.

First up is a large hole saw looking device. A 1/4-20 bolt fits in the center and gets chucked up in a drill. It has a 3in ID which encompasses all my sprinkler heads. I had a sprinkler that needed to get an extension put on it, so I used it as an example. The bit breaks up the soil and grass around the sprinkler head making it easier to fully expose and extract.

Even with the grass broken up it is still hard to get a hold on those sprinklers without doing a lot of digging. To help with that I made a tool that grabs onto the ribs around the head and provides a good handle. It made extracting the unit very easy.

That one is designed for a Toro 570 series sprayer. I also have some Hunter PGP sprinklers that rotate on their own. Those are a lot bigger and require a different tool to extract. All the designs are bundled together on a single thingiverse post.

Rotted Back Door

One of the lingering repair issues on our new house was a rotted back door jamb. It is on the porch well under the roof line. A thing I noticed though is that when it rains really hard the gutters over flow and water backs up to this door on the pool deck.

This showed up on the home inspection. I probably shouldn’t have let it go this long, but what can I say? I started chiseling away at the rot and found it was pretty heavy down low, but didn’t go too far up. The 2x4s in the walls ok. They must have some kind of treatment to help prevent rot.

Once I was done putting out the rotted stuff I squared everything up so I could start putting new material back in.

I went with a foundation of pressure treated wood with PVC wood on the outside. The thicknesses didn’t all match up in places. I don’t really care that much, this will definitely not rot.

I did some heavy calking to fill all gaps and painting to keep the wood that is left in good shape. A lot of the door seal is missing at the bottom, but I haven’t seen anything splash against this door, just the rising tide of rainwater backing up. The closet is not under AC, so the seal wouldn’t matter for that either.


I fixed the door rot, but really the root problem is water backing up on the porch. I fixed the door 2 months ago, and it took me working off and on all that time to fully address every aspect of the problem.

First off, the gutters often fill with leaf debris which causes them to backup and overflow on the porch. I have been keeping the gutters clear, but still get overflow sometimes. As it turns out, when it rains hard enough, the water has a lot of velocity coming off the roof, and it can skip out of the gutter.

Next up is the channel drains in my deck. In doing some reading, paint isn’t good for them. I noticed in places the deck paint had completely covered the drainage slits. I used a pressure washer with the narrowest stream to strip the paint off the channel drain.

That was an improvement, but they still didn’t drain well. I picked up a pressure washer drain jetter hose. It is a pressure washer hose with a bullet shaped fitting on the end that shoots water forward and backwards at an angle to help you break up clogs and flush out drains and gutters. It was messy work, but I managed to flush the years of sand and sludge from my deck channel drains.

More improvement, but still not all in the clear. It turns out a root had grown up inside the side of the drain near the rotted door. The channel would move water, but was half full of roots, and didn’t drain as quickly as it should. A lot of work later, I got the roots cleared out.

With gutters clear, paint off the drainage slits, sludge out of the channels, and roots cleared out, it seems like they drain well now. Even if it doesn’t work perfectly every time, this should flood my porch a lot less than it has in the past. I will keep an eye on the water level and check the bottom of that door for cracks. The joys of home ownership.