Think downspouts and drainage on the outside of your home couldn’t possibly be all that important?
Well, think again. Those downspouts work with your gutters to ensure your entire home is protected from water damage.
Without downspouts, water from your rooftop could seep under your roof’s soffit and weaken or rot the interior wood framing of your home. This could also allow for mold and mildew to form. Neither are things to take lightly.
Downspouts are also responsible for directing water away from your home and preventing garden runoff pollution. They keep water from pooling around your home’s foundation to avoid basement leaks, flooding and worst of all, foundation cracks.
So instead of wishing them away, here’s how you can get the most out of your downspout.
For your downspouts to work properly, they should divert water several feet away from your home’s foundation.
Your state, county or city might have local codes or resources for you to check out. For example, the Regional Water Resource Agency in Owensboro, KY offers these guidelines. Extend the downspout at least 2 feet for crawlspaces and at-grade foundations. For regular basement foundation walls, extend the downspouts at least 6 feet.
Generally, extending the downspouts three to five feet away from your home — if you’re on a well sloped, clay-dirt lot — is a best practice. If your land is flat and your soil is sandy, you may want to go even further.
If your downspouts are hanging at or near the bottom of your exterior walls and allowing water to pool near your foundation, here are three types of extensions you can use to get the water further away:
Splash blocks come in many colors and are simply laid beneath the downspout to catch water and lead it away from your house. They are made from a variety of durable materials such as plastic, concrete, aluminum or rubber. However, most are only about two feet long and are better used if, like stated above, your land slopes properly. Otherwise they may be too short to be effective.
These extenders are made from thick plastic and are designed to attach onto your downspout and automatically roll out when filled with rain water. They are available in several different colors and in lengths that extend 4 feet, 8 feet, 10 feet or 12 feet long. These are a great option to use in areas that have a lot of foot traffic because they roll back up and stay near the house when it’s not raining.
Underground extenders are just that — pipe extensions placed underground. They attach to your downspout and drain the water through buried piping that empties into a street drain, gutter or a drywell.
Underground extenders are the most time consuming and expensive to install, but they solve many problems that can stem from other types of extenders. For example, whether you need 10 feet or 100, underground extenders can be made as long as necessary to fit your needs. They also never create an obstacle in the yard that could cause a fall. And they never get in the way of mowing.
Install larger downspouts if you live in an area that experiences heavy rainfall. Take note during storms, especially if your gutters back up and splash over when they’re free of debris.
Oversized spouts measure 3 inches by 4 inches instead of the usual 2 inches by 3 inches. This doubles the amount of rainwater they can carry from 6 square feet to 12 square feet and helps drain water faster which can eliminate water back-ups and prevent gutter splash-over.
These larger waterspouts also have a couple of added bonuses. They are more stable than their smaller counterparts and much quieter.
Once your downspouts are working correctly, you can be assured that the landscaped areas near your home are being protected from excess erosion. But there are other ways downspouts can help your plants. Here are two ideas that use downspouts to maintain and beautify your landscaping:
You can install a system to your downspout to catch all that rain water and save it to use during dry spells. This system consists of a diverter that attaches to the mid-section of your downspout and funnels rainwater into a rain barrel. You can then attach a hose to the rain barrel and water your outdoor plants. You’ll save money, and it’s perfect for when there are water use limits due to droughts.
If you like the idea of saving the environment and beautifying your property all at once, design and install a rain garden. A rain garden diverts flowing water away from your home using rocks and plants to soak it up. This also decreases the storm water that makes it into city drains; a rain garden also reduces the amount of pollutants that reach our lakes and streams.
Now that you know a few downspout solutions, be sure to clean them at least twice a year to keep them unclogged.
After all, they do a lot for you.