In case you didn't see our post last week, we had our copper downspout ripped off of our house...literally. Unbeknownst to us, a thief showed up in the middle of the night and snatched our copper downspout in order to take it to a scrap metal yard. At about $6 per pound, he probably walked away with almost $100. Thanks a lot, jerk.

After discovering this serious annoyance and financial inconvenience, we're moving onward and upward. Rather than stew in my general anger and hatred for the person/people who stole the downspout, and to avoid focusing on the ideas of what I would have done if I had actually caught the guy in the act (which I'm sure is far more intense and much different than if I had actually caught the guy in real life), I instead focused on a short and long term fix for the problem at hand.

In the short term, we needed a downspout. Rain is in the forecast, and our replacement downspout won't be here for at least a week or more, so we needed a solution that would drain the massive amount of water from our roof without letting it pour all over the side of our house and flood the backyard.

Are you familiar with the website "There, I fixed it!"? If not, it's a photo blog from the Cheezburger family of websites (things like LOLcats and FailBlog) that contains collections of photos submitted by users with interesting fixes to problems. I'm talking lots of duct tape and any necessary level of makeshift solutions you can think of. Well, I sort of feel like my short term downspout solution is a pretty solid candidate for "There I Fixed It."

We actually have some experience with a short term gutter solution from years ago, prior to our copper gutter installation. We were working on replacing our siding and needed a downspout that we could work around, so I used a length of flexible dryer duct.

Our solution worked so well that I figured we should head that way again. When I got home from work I knew there was a storm approaching, so I raced out to our local hardware to pick up my supplies. I grabbed a 20' length of flexible dryer duct and a single 4" clamp.

By the time I got started it was getting dark, the clouds were rolling in, and I was just annoyed I needed to be doing this in the first place.

I set up my ladder bracing system on the roof and secured the ladder in place so I could safely reach the corner of the gutter, which is roughly 25' off of the cement and bricks below.

I used the metal duct clamp to secure the 4" flexible duct to the downspout exit on the gutter. I made sure I really cranked down on the clamp to ensure I won't come home to find the hose laying on the ground.

With the duct secured at the top, I fit the duct through the same stirrups we had installed for the downspout. It worked great since the duct is the same size diameter as the downspout was. Ah, serendipity.

The 20' length of duct is essentially the perfect size, hanging just to the top of the cast iron boot below. The main problem with this setup is I couldn't really attach the duct to the cast iron in any way. Instead, I used a metal 6" to 4" reducer and a short piece of rigid 4" duct, and placed this in the cast iron boot as a sort of funnel. I then placed the flexible duct inside of the fat end of the reducer.

It's perfect. Even though it looks more like we're making moonshine than fixing a downspout, this should be a good short term solution until we can get a more permanent fix in place.

At this point we're still looking into our options for purchasing a replacement. I contacted the supplier we used the last time, and learned that shipping on the replacement piece is $175, which is over half the cost of the replacement downspout. Yikes. Instead. we're hoping to find a local vendor that we can purchase from. Our roofer friends at Lyons Contracting gave us a lead on a place up in Maryland that we'll look into this week. At the very least, we'll be buying a welded seam length of copper to ensure we don't have it splitting open like the old one we installed. 

Once we actually purchase the new lengths, I have several ideas on how we will secure the next downspout in place, making it much harder to remove without disassembling the whole thing piece by piece. I'm just hoping that will be enough to deter someone from taking it.

We're also looking into all of our surveillance/security options. Let'a just say, we're not ones to do anything half assed, and I don't see us changing that approach on our security and monitoring system. It should be a bit fun.

Thanks to everyone for your support last week, and for the advice on cameras. If anyone else has any good security system advice, such as brands you've installed that you really like, be sure to let us know in the comments. We definitely love getting real world opinions and recommendations.

Comments 7


Karin K
10/22/2012 at 12:09 PM
Once you get the new one up, figure out how to electrify it so a bazillion volts will go through the person who tries to remove it. If only. Have you thought about putting up something that is just painted a copper color, so it looks good but is worthless to the scrap metal thief?
LOL. We've been joking about the electricity option too.

Hmm, a faux copper downspout is a really creatove option. Wouldn't it be interesting to catch them in the act of stealing the "fake" with a fancy new security system? We might need to give that some serious thought!
10/22/2012 at 4:23 PM
I would seriously consider going to ask around at local scrap metal places to see if there's any chance someone might know who brought-in the downspout (the thief).

That just sucks.
10/22/2012 at 6:52 PM
Continuing on JC's comment I kind of wondered in reading this if you could buy back your own downspout from whatever scrap metal place it may have ended up at (assuming that the thief didn't cut it down for easy transport first). It feels a little schoolyard bully to buy back something you've already owned, but if it's possible to track down it might be your cheapest option!
I need to do this, if only so I'm more aware of what is around us. I do have the other old copper downspout, as well as some old plumbing pipe, that I could turn in at the scrap yard. At the very least it would help to offset the cost of the replacement.

As much as I'd like to buy back my downspout, I have a feeling the thieves did a number on it while taking it off the house. I found one of the springs that held it in place, and it was stretched out and mangled from it's normal 3" to about 12". If they do have it, I'm willing to bet it's pretty much bent in half a few times and badly dented.
10/22/2012 at 8:28 PM
Look into WB Maske - they are local.
Thanks, Cate. I'll check them out. I also have a lead on another place up in Columbia, MD, so I might be able to pay them both a visit.
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