The gutter system captures rainwater that runs down the roof and directs it away from the foundation. It is your home’s best defense against water damage. Downspouts play an important role in a gutter system, ensuring that the gutters operate at peak efficiency throughout the year.
What is a Downspout?
A downspout is a length of pipe typically made of metal or vinyl and is usually the same material as the gutters. It is designed to guide the water collected in the gutter channel safely out of the gutter system. Downspouts are attached vertically to the home’s exterior, usually at the corners of a house. This allows the downpipes to direct water specifically away from the foundation and deposit the runoff at a safe drainage area, integrated into the landscaping.
Benefits of Downspouts
Without downspouts a home’s exterior is susceptible to excess moisture, encouraging mildew/mold growth, wood rot, and pest infestations. The benefits of downspouts are:
- Prevention against basement flooding
- Protection against water damage to the foundation, siding, and roof
- Preventing water from pooling at the base of exterior walls
- Preserving the landscaping; stopping soil erosion
The Top of the Downspout
A standard downspout has three elbows. The first elbow connects the downpipes to the gutters at the drop outlet or gutter outlet. The outlet is sealed to prevent leaks. The second elbow at the top of the downspout positions the pipe against the exterior wall. The main part of the downspout is secured to the second elbow with glue or screws or a combination of both.
The Bottom of the Downspout
The third elbow is located at the bottom of the downspout, providing some distance between the exterior wall and where the runoff is deposited. When the bottom of the downspout is too close to the foundation, a splash block or some type of downspout extension is used to ensure the water disperses far enough away to prevent soil erosion or other kinds of damage to the landscaping.
The Number of Downspouts Needed
To ensure the gutter system functions efficiently and help prevent the gutters from becoming clogged, it is vital that there is the right number of downpipes. It is recommended that there is one downspout of every 40 feet of guttering. The name of the game is to have enough downspouts to handle the amount and type of rainfall (heavy, light, torrential) your location receives at any given time.
Maintaining the Downspouts
Just like the gutters, downspouts need to be maintained regularly if they are to do the job they were designed to do. Inspect downpipes for visible damage at the beginning of every season. When you clean the gutters, clean the downspouts too. Since downspouts are enclosed – you can’t see inside them as readily as you can with the gutters – it can be difficult to locate a blockage. Regular inspections and gutter cleaning that includes the downspouts are the best way to keep a gutter system running smoothly.