During the Easter weekend I installed gutter strainers (also called gutter guards) in my gutters in between hunting eggs. My house is just new and it's about time to install my Raintap. In order for rainwater to enter the Raintap as cleanly as possible, it is important to remove as much leaves and dirt from the water before it flows into the downspout and thus into my Raintap.
A gutter guard or gutter strainer is the simplest solution to filter leaves and dirt from your rainwater. Here in France they are also called crapaudines, derived from the word toad. Toad legs, I have to think about that and yes, there is something in that: those things naturally like to have their feet in the muck.
There are several places where you can gutter guards, such as hardware stores, garden centers and online stores. The price of a gutter guard varies from less than one Euro to as much as 10 Euro per piece, largely depending on the material they are made of. Plastic ones are cheap and light, but can become brittle over time. Aluminum guards are light and rust resistant, but can be more susceptible to damage. Ones made out of stainless steel are more durable and more resistant to corrosion, but are generally slightly more expensive.
I opted for the plastic version, on the one hand because I want to experiment some more with other ways of filtering, but also because aluminium and stainless steel ones I could find were too large to fit in my gutters.
Installation is simple, you just put them into the top end of your downspout.
Gutter guards ensure that leaves and dirt do not get into your downspout, but it will still be in your gutter. So it's important to occasionally remove the accumulated dirt and foliage from your gutters. The lazy homeowner waits just as long for his gutter to overflow, but it is better to do it preventively. I am diligent and do it twice a year, in the middle or end of fall and once at the end of winter.
Gutter guards aside, there are other ways to filter out dirt and leaves as well.
In my previous home I had gutter covers that sort of close off the gutter and prevent any leaves from entering the gutters at all. There essentially a plastic mesh sheet rolled up and stuffed into the gutter. Water flows through, but leaves simply cannot enter anymore. In theory they work, but after 20 or 30 years, they were completely clogged up and all sorts of moss and planted were growing in the gutters.
By the way, you can see that even after Winter has ended, there's already some dirt that has accumulated in the gutter.
Another effective means with which I unfortunately have no experience myself, is the downspout filter or leaf separator. The separator ensures that the leaves that fall down into the downspout are separated from the water, the leaves are, as it were, spit out and the water can continue downwards. I will definitely try this solution on one of my drainpipes in the future. Instead of cleaning your gutter, you will find some dirt near your downspout with this solution. Normally, leaf separators are mounted at the bottom of the downspout, but because you ideally filter the water for your Raintap after the leaves have been removed, it must in any case be above the point your tap water from your downspout.
Concluding, there are several solutions for filtering rainwater before it enters the Raintap. Personally I think the gutter strainers or gutter guards are the best solution so far. Simple to install and easy to remove if needed. And at the same time, you're forced to remove the dirt and inspect your gutters once every now and then. Of course if your gutter are really up high where a ladder cannot reach, you might want to opt for a different solution that required less maintenance.