All about Downpipes

Downpipes are an integral part of your gutter system, designed to channel water from the gutters into the ground. They are often overlooked and added as an afterthought. But with careful planning and some practical knowledge, downpipes can improve the appearance of your home exterior.

Name Calling

Downpipes are referred to by several other names. A downpipe can be called a downspout, waterspout, drain spout, roof drain pipe, leader or conductor.


Gutter sizes and corresponding downpipes depend on a number of factors including the amount of rainfall and other local climate conditions. For residential applications, typical Vancouver gutters are 5 inch channels with a 2 x 3 inch downspout. When a house needs a larger gutter system, 6 inch gutters with 3 x 4 inch downpipes would be used.

Parts of a Downpipe

Gutter outlet: Also called a drop outlet, it connects the downspout to the gutter.

Hangers: They hold the downpipe in place, typically one at the top, one at the bottom, and wherever there is a joint along the length of the downspout. Also know as fasteners or straps.

Elbow: Piece of pipe bent like an elbow; changes the direction of the flow of water.

Shoe: A type of elbow typically found at the base of the downspout to discharge rainwater from the gutter system.

Leader head: Used to capture water where the gutter drains into the downpipe. Usually used if the downspout is over 40’ long. Sometimes used as a decorative element in European gutter installations.

Downpipe Little Helpers

Downpipe accessories are often used to modify a downspout so that it can handle and/or manage rainwater in ways a standard downpipe might not be able to. Accessories include flex elbows, flex spouts, rain drains, splash blocks and filters that can strain debris and/or divert water.