Downspouts are Part of the Gutter System Too

While gutters often get overlooked until they start to overflow, downspouts might arguably be the most neglected part of the gutter system. But downpipes play an important role in providing adequate drainage for the roofing system and protecting a home from serious water damage.


The main purpose of a downspout is to direct water collected from the roof into the gutter trough, then out through the system, down to the ground and safely away from your foundation.

Position of Downspouts

Downspouts are typically placed on the corners of a residential structure. Depending on the size of the house and the amount of annual rainfall, a home might need more than one downspout. Downpipes and downspout extenders should be positioned so that they don’t interfere with pedestrian traffic, pathways, patios or driveways. To be effective, downpipes must deposit water at least seven feet from the house. When a downspout is too close to the foundation, a downspout extender can be attached to the pipe.

Downspout Styles and Sizes

Downspouts are typically purchased at the same time as the gutters and therefore are already matched in style, material, and corresponding size. However, if downpipes need replacing or the homeowner would like to replace the current downpipe with something a bit more creative, there are a variety of custom and ornamental downspouts to choose from.

Five-inch gutter profiles are used with 2 x 3-inch rectangular downspouts and 6-inch gutters are generally paired with 3 x 4-inch rectangular downspouts. When a standard 5-inch gutter system is consistently overflowing but not due to clogging or improper slope, installing 3 x 4-inch downpipes might be a practical solution to the problem.

Easy Tips for Maintaining Downspouts

Clogging is the main reason downspouts stop working properly. Keeping them well-maintained is a good way to prevent downspouts from becoming blocked. Some easy ways to maintain the downspouts of a gutter system are:

  • periodically inspect each downspout for dents, loose brackets, and disconnections or shifting
  • when it’s raining, check the downpipes to see if water is exiting the system as a trickle or is freely flowing
  • look for pools of water underneath the downspouts that haven’t drained away 36 to 48 hours after it rained
  • once in a while, use a hose to flush the downspout to eliminate the buildup of material inside the pipe