Best Type of Downspout Extension for Your Home

Downspouts are an integral part of the gutter system; they direct rainwater away from your home’s foundation. When runoff drains too close to the house, it can create a number of serious problems such as a shifting foundation, a flooded basement, and the appearance of cracks on exterior walls. If a downspout deposits water next to a basement window or into a flowerbed where the water pools instead of drains away, you might need a downspout extension. Choose a downspout extension that will optimize and/or improve your gutter system.

Downspout Extension Applications

There are several important uses for downpipe extenders. Downspout extensions are ideal for homes with little space between homeowner and neighbour. They can also improve drainage on a property where landscaping becomes saturated in one particular place or if the land slopes toward the house instead of away from it. In order to be effective, downspout extenders should be a minimum of 1.8 m (6 ft.) in length.

What are Downspout Extensions?

A downspout extension is an attachment to the downspout of your home’s gutter system. It is designed to guide water away from the foundation, preventing water damage and any resulting compromise to the structural integrity of your home. The two main types of downspout extensions are above ground and underground downspout extensions.

Above Ground Downspout Extensions

Above ground extensions are typically made from plastic or metal and shaped as a cylinder or shallow trough. Depending on your current gutter system and the type of downspout extender being installed, you might have to cut into the downspout to attach the downspout extension. The three main categories of above ground extensions are:

  • flexible – made of malleable material, they can be rolled (flat) up or moved around corners, across a pathway, etc. (accordion)
  • fixed in place – constructed of metal or plastic/vinyl, resembling a section of downspout
  • hinged or flip-up – made of metal or vinyl, the extender attached to the downspout is hinged, allowing it to flip-up out of the way when not in use

Above ground extensions offer a simple, cost-effective solution for homeowners who don’t want to invest in an underground downspout system.

Underground Downspout Extensions

If you do need to install a downspout extender, you might want to hide it from sight. Underground extensions, while they can be a do-it-yourself project, are more complicated and generally require a professional contractor to do the installation. A trench is dug, oriented slightly downhill, and a pipe, typically PVC, is placed into the trench and attached to the downspout. Once the downspout extender is positioned correctly, it is covered over with the earth displaced when the trench was dug. This would be considered a simple installation configuration.

To connect multiple downpipes to one underground system, additional trenches are required. Each section will then be connected to the main underground extension with the appropriate connector/adaptor. When the ground is uneven or there are obstacles, a section of flexible drainpipe will need to be incorporated into the underground downspout extension system.

Where will the Water End Up?

Whether you choose to install above ground extensions or underground extensions, the water should end up somewhere it can do no harm. For above ground extensions, have the downspout extender deposit water into a vegetable garden, flowerbed, or rain garden. Underground extensions should direct water to a storm sewer (check municipal bylaws) or a dry well or be diverted using a bubbler pot (type of drain to disperse water).