Downspouts Dos and Don’ts

Downspouts are a very important part of a gutter system and an integral component in protection from water damage, including basement flooding. To help you properly maintain the downpipes on your home, here are some practical dos and don’ts.

What to Do

Regularly check the gutter outlet (where the gutter meets the downspout) for clogs. If this area is free of debris, but the downpipe is still expelling water in just a trickle, check inside the downspout for blockages. Bits of twigs, leaves, etc. can catch on edges or protruding nails/screws inside the downspout where sections have been joined together. If removing a section doesn’t get you any closer to the clump of debris, use a garden hose with a pressure nozzle or a plumber’s snake.

Ensure that there are the right number of downspouts for the size of your home and its roof’s configuration. Typically, one downspout for every 40 feet of gutter is recommended. However, other factors do come into play, such as placement of corners or multiple roofs.

If downpipes are draining too close to the foundation, add a splash block or downpipe extender to direct water safely away from the basement or walls. Water should be deposited optimally 7 to 10 feet away from the house.

If you have multiple roofs, ensure that each downpipe directly drains into a gutter section by adding some type of downspout extension where needed.

What to Avoid

Don’t connect the downspout to a municipal sewer system. Due to environmental concerns, this practice is illegal in many Canadian cities and communities.

Don’t allow water to drain onto a neighbour’s property.

Don’t add downpipes if you really don’t need them. While you might not have a downspout for every 35 to 40 feet of guttering, don’t change anything if the current setup is working the way it should.

When the roofing system of your home includes multiple levels, check that the downspouts are directly draining into the gutters. Don’t allow rainwater to run freely from out of the pipe and down the roof; it can eventually wear away roofing granules needed to protect tiles from the elements.