While your home shelters you from the elements all year round, it’s the downspouts that do the crucial job of moving water away from your foundation in rainy weather. These fixtures can mean the difference between a flooded basement and a dry one. It’s important to ensure yours are clog-free and functional all year round.
What Is a Downspout?
A downspout is a long vertical drainage pipe that goes from the gutters of your home to the ground. It takes rainwater or melting snow that collects in your gutters and channels it downwards along the sides of your home. The bottom part of the downspout is typically angled out several inches to get the water far and away from the building’s foundation.
How Does It Work?
The main job of a downspout is to take water from the gutters to the ground without splashing or leaking down a building’s structure. In other words, it directs water out and away from your home, usually towards designated drainage.
Types of Downspouts
Downspouts come in various shapes and sizes. Below are three common designs:
The 5” K-style is the standard downspout style and a common fixture in many homes. These are available in 2”x3” and 3”x4”.
These downspouts work well with round gutters. They come in sizes ranging from three to six inches.
This is the second most popular downspout style after K-style downspouts. They are available in 2”x3”, 3”x4”, and 4”x5”.
How Many Downspouts Do I Need?
A general rule of thumb is that a single downspout should not drain more than 30 to 40 feet of gutter. Also, you must install one at every corner. That said, many factors affect this rule, including:
- Roof watershed area: The bigger the roof surface the more rainwater it will collect. Therefore, you may need to adjust the downspout location to about one downspout for every 20 feet of the gutter or less to compensate.
- Gutter size: Bigger gutters generally hold more water, easing the load on your downspouts. Smaller gutters, on the other hand, may require more downspouts to compensate for their low volume.
- Roof slope: The higher a roof slope, the faster it drains water. Ultimately, this leads to more water draining through your downspouts. In case of spills, consider adding extra downspouts to fix this issue.
- Rainfall intensity: Because of the huge water volumes, areas with high rainfall may require more downspouts than dry areas.
It’s nice to know that rainwater or snowmelt is going down the roof without splashing. But it’s even more important that this water goes as far away from your building as possible. When installing downspouts, the roofer needs to make sure these fixtures extend at least four feet from your house.
Downspout Maintenance and Protection
As a homeowner, you need to ensure your downspouts are in good shape so they can move water from your gutters to the designated discharge point. The best way to do this is to ensure proper maintenance. A roofing expert can help you with the following:
- Clearing your gutters and downspouts of debris, especially during fall and early winter when trees lose their leaves and higher winds are apt to blow dead twigs and branches onto your roof
- Regularly inspecting your downspouts for cracks, holes, or leaks and repairing them as soon as it gets dry
- Sealing and caulking joints and seams to prevent leaks
- Installing mesh filters or screens where the gutters meet the downspouts to keep the drainage system free of dirt, leaves, and debris
- Replacing seriously compromised sections of downspouts to ensure proper runoff.
True, proper downspout maintenance is key to maintaining a dry foundation and keeping mold and mildew out of your basement. But that’s not the only thing that matters. You need to ensure the foundation is strong, stable, and moisture-free. Foundation Recovery System can provide you with a free foundation inspection and quote plus solid recommendations to keep water out of your basement.