How Downspouts Work

Downspouts are an important part of a gutter system. Typically a metal or vinyl tube that is attached to the gutter trough it allows rainwater to exit from the gutters through the downspouts and into the ground. When gutters aren’t functioning properly, a clogged or overflowing gutter system can negatively affect the downpipes. It’s important to know how downspouts work in relation to your gutters.

Downspout Basics

It’s a pretty straightforward concept – gravity pulls the rainwater in the gutter trough toward the downpipes. In order for this to happen, the gutters should slope toward the gutter outlet where the gutter section and the downspout meet. When water doesn’t completely drain from the gutters, it’s usually an indication of improper slope or pitch.

Downspout Placement is Important

Vertical positioning is important. In order for the gutters to drain efficiently, downspouts are typically placed at each corner of the house. In order to ensure they work properly and are not in danger of becoming dented or damaged in other ways, downpipes should be securely fastened to exterior walls. When situated near trees, limbs should be trimmed back, particularly when the downpipes are made from aluminum. For larger sized homes, it’s advisable to install one downspout for every 40 feet of guttering.

End of the Downspout

The end of the downspout is generally curved. It is from the downspout elbow the rainwater exits. To prevent water from pooling too close to the basement or washing out any nearby landscaping, downpipes should deposit runoff at least five feet away from the foundation.

Tips for Maintaining Downspouts

Maintaining the gutters on a regular basis generally means that the downpipes will be well-maintained too. Keep in mind that clogs are easier to deal with in a gutter channel than they are to remove from inside a downspout. Here are some ways to ensure that the downspouts work the way they should.

  • Clean the gutters as often as you need to – while gutter professionals recommend twice a year, depending on where you live, they might need cleaning three times a year or even once every season
  • Clean the downspouts at the same time you do the gutters
  • Look for pooled water beneath the downspout – it can be a sign that there’s a clog inside the downspouts.
  • Inspect the downpipes after an active weather system – look for loose hardware, dented elbows, damaged or missing sections, or if it has become disconnected from the gutter outlet
  • Inspect the gutters and downspouts at least once in between regular gutter cleanings to remove any clogs or debris that accumulated since the last time the gutter system was cleaned.