How to build a rain diverter

Written by kristin mcfarland
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How to build a rain diverter
Catch the water from your gutters for a source of recycled water. (street lamp, roof gutter image by Andrzej Thiel from

Collecting rainwater from your roof with a rain diverter and cistern allows the environmentally conscious homeowner to save piped-in drinking water by using recycled water for outdoor and other uses. Catching rainwater also minimises the amount of runoff from your home, helping to prevent flooding. Build your own rainwater diverter using PVC pipe, a garden hose and your home's existing gutter system. The rainwater diverter is ideal when you cannot put a cistern directly beneath your gutter.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • PVC pipe, 6 inches diameter
  • 2 PVC pipe end caps, 6 inchesdiameter
  • PVC pipe reducer fitting
  • PVC pipe, 1 inch diameter
  • Garden hose
  • Brass garden hose connector
  • Drill or saw
  • Threaded brass pipe, diameter matching the garden hose
  • 2 brass nuts, matching the brass pipe
  • 2 plastic washers, matching the brass pipe
  • PVC pipe glue
  • Plastic gutter guard

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  1. 1

    Estimate the length of the rainwater diverter pipe by deciding on a location for it. The longer the pipe, the more water you can collect without having overflow. The diverter will attach to your existing gutters and to your cistern. Find a discreet location near the back of your house.

  2. 2

    Cut the 6-inch PVC pipe to the required length. Cut the 1-inch PVC pipe approximately the same length.

  3. 3

    Cut two holes in the bottom end cap, one for the 1-inch PVC overflow pipe and one for the garden hose. The hole for the garden hose should fit the threaded brass pipe. The hole for the 1-inch pipe should be a very tight fit, able to hold the pipe in place. Make both holes off centre.

  4. 4

    Attach the brass pipe to the bottom end cap by running it through the hole and holding it in place with two brass nuts and two plastic washers. Attach the garden hose connector to the outer end of the brass pipe.

  5. 5

    Cut a circular piece of the plastic gutter guard, matching the interior diameter of the 6-inch PVC pipe. Cut a small inset in this filter for the overflow pipe. The strainer should fit against the inside of the bottom end cap, over the brass pipe; this prevents leaves and debris from entering your garden hose and cistern.

  6. 6

    Glue the overflow pipe into the bottom end cap. The interior end of the pipe should reach almost to the top of the 6-inch PVC pipe, and the exterior end should protrude several inches beyond the end cap. This pipe will prevent overflow. Fit the bottom end cap onto the PVC pipe, but do not glue into place. The removable bottom end cap will allow you to periodically clean the inside of the diverter.

  7. 7

    Cut a hole in the top end cap to match the smaller end of the PVC pipe reducer, again off centre and not directly over either the overflow pipe or the brass pipe. Place the reducer onto the end cap, with the smaller end in the hole and the larger end on the exterior of the end cap. Glue in place with PVC pipe glue. Glue the top end cap to the top end of the PVC pipe.

  8. 8

    Attach the diverter to your gutter by cutting a hole in a cross-section of gutter parallel to the ground and inserting the end of the reducer into it or by attaching the PVC pipe reducer to a downspout of the gutter. Use additional PVC pipe glue if necessary.

  9. 9

    Attach the garden hose to the garden hose connector on the bottom end cap. Run the garden hose into your cistern or rain barrel.

Tips and warnings

  • If desired, paint the PVC pipe to match your exterior walls or gutters.
  • Clean the inside of your diverter frequently, or leaves and debris will clog the pipe.

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