Down and Out: Ensuring Proper Downspout Drainage


Our last blog post discussed the importance of creating an effective drainage system to avoid water damage and costly home repairs. This time we more closely examine the cornerstone of any home drainage system, downspouts. Improperly placed and installed downspouts result in seeping and pooling at the home’s foundation. This can ultimately cause soil erosion, plant death, basement and lower level flooding, and foundation and structural damage.  Considering downspout locations and quantities, proper installation, and supplemental extension systems are all ways to ensure downspout efficiency.


Location and Quantity

Home size, layout, and landscape are important factors in determining location and number of downspouts. Downspouts should be installed for every 20’ of guttering. Gutters should slope approximately ½” every 10’ to maximize water flow from the gutter into the downspout system. Downspouts should be installed in inconspicuous places as much as possible. This will help to maintain a home’s curbside appeal. Further, it is recommended downspouts are installed in unobstructed areas where the water can easily be diverted away from the home. Meters, sidewalks, and landscape consisting of plants/trees with deep root systems create barriers to water diversion and expulsion.


The Parts

Downspouts typically consist of the following: an outlet connecting the gutter and downspout, elbows at the top and bottom to curve into the home’s outer wall and expel water at the bottom, union sleeves connecting the elbows to the downspout, the downspout itself, and brackets for mounting. The parts are easily fitted through a slip joint system; where a smaller end is slipped inside a larger one and then fastened by screws. The successive pieces should always be fitted so the upper section fits into the lower one to avoid leakage. Upon assembly, the downspout system should be set into the outlet and then brackets placed every 10’ down the home for secure attachment. It is recommended the water is discharged at least 2’-3’ from the home’s foundation. For many homeowners this makes extension systems a necessity.


Extension Systems

Splash blocks and underground downspout diverters are the most common extension systems. Both can be combined with a French Drain, or be used as a stand-alone feature, depending on the property’s slope and pre-disposition to pooling and flooding. Splash blocks are the simpler of the two. They come in a variety of functional and decorative designs that easily add additional length needed to divert water flow. They are placed directly beneath the opening of the lower elbow to usher water away from the home.

Underground downspout diverters connect directly to the lower elbow opening and send the water through a PVC pipe system buried a foot or two below the ground. These systems should run about 10’ away from the home. They can empty into a French Drain, or can be fitted with a bubble pot allowing water to evenly disperse in the yard.


Properly installed downspouts are the first line of defense in preventing water damage to your home and landscape. If you are concerned your gutter and downspouts are not up to par, or unsure if your current system can effectively manage Ohio’s rainfall, Country Club Landscaping is happy to provide assessment. Protect your landscape. Protect your home. We are here to help!

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