Are Underground Downspouts Worth the Investment?

Standard downspouts are an integral part of your gutter system. They drain water away from the foundation of your home. Downpipes not only protect a basement from flooding; they also protect your landscaping from soil erosion and the side effects of standing water. But standard downpipes can detract from the overall appearance of a home’s exterior. Some homeowners turn to alternative drainage solutions such as buried downpipes to ensure protection from water damage and to boost curb appeal. Are underground downspouts worth the investment?

What are Underground Downspouts?

Underground downspouts are a system of PVC pipes, positioned to safely guide water away from the foundation of a house. They are typically buried a minimum of eighteen inches into the ground or past the frost line of the local region. While buried downpipes can be a DIY project for an experienced do-it-yourselfer, a gutter contractor will be able to advise you on how and where to bury the downspout so that it will provide maximum protection and work efficiently.

Benefits of Buried Downspouts

Benefits of buried downspouts include:

  • They are not a visual distraction to your home’s exterior or landscaping
  • Avoiding tripping hazards
  • Reducing soil erosion
  • Pooling water
  • Preventing basement flooding

If Downspouts need to be Extended

When the downspout elbow drains too close to exterior walls, pooling water can spell trouble for your foundation or your basement or both. If downspouts need to be extended more than seven feet away from exterior walls, underground downpipes might be more convenient. Above-ground downspouts and downspout extenders longer than five feet in length can become a nuisance when mowing the lawn, doing yard work, or even washing your home’s exterior.

They can also be easily damaged and knocked out of place by foot traffic, pets enjoying the backyard, or an impromptu game of football. If above-ground downpipes cross pathways, they pose a tripping hazard.

Some homeowners view the additional cost of underground downspouts worth the expense if they reduce potential damage and repeated replacement of above-ground downspouts and the hazards the pose to people and pets.

If the Aesthetics can be Improved

Downspouts that extend more than seven feet can make a property look untidy. Especially if the space between two properties is tight or the downpipes are next to a deck or driveway, downspout extensions can look awkward or unattractive.

You put a lot of time and effort into your beautifully landscaped yard. If the water draining from out of the gutter system hangs around for one or two days after a heavy rainfall or flowerbeds become consistently waterlogged, soil erosion can occur. Soil erosion not only makes your landscaping look bad, it also puts your foundation at risk of shifting or cracking.

Some residential designs are better suited to hidden gutters and underground downspouts since the dramatic clean and angular lines of architectural styles such as coastal contemporary, industrial modern and international are uninterrupted by visible gutter systems.

If Landscaping needs Protecting

Water consistently pooling beneath a short downspout or remaining on the surface of the lawn for two or more days after a heavy rainfall can wash soil away from around plant and tree roots (soil erosion). Oversaturated vegetation looks unsightly, and can result in dying plants or leaves with dark brown spots. While it might seem counterintuitive to dig a trench to bury a pipe that will help prevent water damage to your landscaping, the installation most likely won’t interfere with larger trees and shrubs. Smaller plants can be relocation if necessary and grass is easily reseeded.

Buried downspouts also have the added benefit of being environmentally friendly. When directed to other areas of your property that need a water source such as an herb plot or a rain garden, they can be instrumental in reducing the number of times you have to water them with a garden hose (tap water).