How to Bury a Gutter Downspout in Your Yard

gutter downspout extension on a floor

Downspouts are a key part of your gutter system since they direct water from your roof to the ground below. However, that doesn’t guarantee that the roof runoff will drain properly, and sometimes it will still pool around the base of your home and cause issues. Extending and burying your downspouts can help prevent this problem.

If you’re looking to DIY, here’s what you should know about how to bury a gutter downspout in your yard.

What Are Gutter Downspouts?

Gutterr downspout with water
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Downspouts are lightweight, vertical tubes connected to the end or elbow of your gutters and extend toward the ground. They can be made of aluminum, PVC, stainless steel, or even copper. They are usually placed along the sides of the building but are also installed at any low point of the gutter system facing a suitable drainage area.

A crucial part of your drainage system, downspouts are designed to protect your home from water damage by directing rainwater away from your home to a designated drainage area. When rainwater accumulates on your roof, it travels down into your gutter system, which collects the water and directs it through the downspout.

Without a downspout, water would collect in your gutters until it overflowed and damaged or eroded your siding, roof, and foundation.

Why You Should Bury Downspouts

Rainwater or melted snow that doesn’t channel far enough away from the house will pool against the foundation and gradually seep into crawl spaces or the basement, jeopardizing your home’s foundation and structure. Not only that, but the water saturating the soil will drown your flowers and ruin your landscaping.

Water damage can result in expensive repairs, so burying your downspouts will prevent it ahead of time. You can connect downspouts to a series of buried drainage pipes, safely leading water runoff away from your home.

Steps to Bury a Gutter Downspout

gutter downspout in house
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Before you get started, you should have a game plan. Here is a comprehensive list of things you will need along with steps to take in order to successfully bury a gutter downspout:

Tools and Supplies Needed: 

  • Spade
  • Shovel
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Razor blade
  • Tarp/bucket/box to collect dirt
  • Level 2×4
  • PVC pipe, couplings, elbows
  • PVC cement
  • PVC primer and glue
  • Downspout connector
  • Downspout drain pipe (5-10 feet)

Step 1: Check Regulations

Make sure your location allows storm water drainage into yards. You should contact your local building department to learn about the storm water regulations in your area.

Always call 811 or check the 811 website before you start to dig so that you know where the water, gas, and electricity lines are buried. Accidentally damaging these lines is dangerous and leads to costly repairs.

Step 2: Plan Your Route

Once you know where the pipes and cables are located, you can map out where to safely install your drain line. First, you should decide where in your yard you want to channel the rainwater. You will want your underground downspout to drain several feet away from your home or into the sidewalk or street to minimize the possibility of water pooling near your home.

The length of your buried downspouts is determined by the size and layout of your yard. You should have downspouts run 8 feet long to ensure the water stays far away from your foundation.

Step 3: Dig the Trench

You will need to dig a trench along the entire route approximately 12-18 inches deep to ensure they’re below the frost line. Your trench should be wide enough that it leaves 4 inches of space on either side of the pipe. Dig the trench roughly 5-10 feet away from your home.

Dig the trench at a 2-inch slope so water flows freely. Use a level to check that the slope creates a drop of ⅛ inch per foot so that it’s shallow at the beginning and deeper toward the end.

Use a garden spade or a shovel to cut through the dirt. You’ll also want to grab a tarp, box, or bucket to collect the dirt.

Step 4: Dismantle the Old Downspout

Remove the screws from the old gutter spout and angle connector with the drill before detaching them. If your downspout has an aluminum extension, you’ll need to use a screwdriver instead of a drill to remove it.

Step 5: Connect the New Extension

Carefully attach your downspout extension and connector to the base of your gutter downspout with several layers of PVC cement, waterproof tape, or screws. Your new downspout extension needs to be flexible and made from strong, durable PVC. Color doesn’t matter, and it is up to you whether you choose an extension that is brown, black, or white.

Be sure to get an extension that fits your downspout. You also might want to buy a vent for the extension for easy maintenance.

Step 6: Place the Downspout Into the Trench

Once the trench is ready, place the downspout extension and cut it at the required length with a razor blade. Keep the extension at a gradual angle to prevent water from backing up.

You also can attach a pop-up emitter to access the pipe for cleaning and maintenance.

Step 7: Fill the Trench

After laying the pipe, refill the trench with the soil you previously collected in your tarp, box, or bucket. Take the shovel to refill the trench and cover the downspout extension. After everything is covered, pat the soil down until it’s compact and flat.

You’re all done! Now your home is protected by a buried downspout that will drain excess rainwater.

Pros of Buried Downspouts

downspout extension with masonry brick wall
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Preserves your Curb Appeal

Buried downspouts just make your property look better! Choosing which part of your lawn the water drains to will keep your lawn from becoming muddy and increases your overall curb appeal.

Beneficial for High-Risk Homes 

Homes that are exposed to lots of rain or snow are considered high-risk homes. Buries downspouts can handle the overflow more effectively than above-ground downspouts since they are already attached to the underground drainage system.

Removes Tripping Hazards 

Above-ground downspouts are something of a tripping hazard if you aren’t paying attention. Installing a buried downspout significantly decreases the risk of anyone getting hurt by twisting their ankle or falling flat on their face. Buried downspouts can increase safety for your children, pets, or elderly relatives.

Discourages Pests

Pooling water creates the perfect habitat for mosquitoes and other obnoxious insects. Installing a buried downspout will not create any free real estate for nasty bugs and pests.

Cons of Buried Downspouts

Harder to Access 

Cleaning and maintenance are trickier for buried downspouts since they are underground. They are not as easily accessible as above-ground downspouts.

Prone to Freezing

Underground downspouts are prone to freezing, which can result in leaks. They just aren’t insulated enough, and once they begin to freeze in one area, the rest of the pipe is soon to follow.

FAQ About Burying Gutter Downspouts

Do Buried Downspouts Clog?

Yes, underground downspouts can still get clogged by leaves, dirt, or other debris that slow the flow of the drain pipe. They will still need to be regularly cleaned and maintained to have the drainage running smoothly.

How Much Does It Cost to Bury a Gutter Downspout?

Installing and burying downspout extensions is an inexpensive DIY project that should cost as little as $20. If you aren’t a DIYer, then it can cost $2,500-$8,000, depending on the size of your yard and the type of downspout drainage system you want.

How Long Do Downspouts Last?

Most gutter downspouts have a life expectancy of up to 30 years.

Hire a Gutter Pro 

Why spend your free time digging trenches when you could hire an experienced gutter pro instead? If you’re looking for someone to take care of the hassle of burying downspouts, contact gutter professionals available in your area. They know how to bury downspouts and have plenty of pro tips from their years of experience with drainage solutions.

Main Image Credit: AGreenFutureCalgaryLandscping / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Lydian Pine

Lydian Pine is a creative writer and studio artist whose work first debuted in a short story anthology. She graduated from the University of North Texas in 2020 and enjoys video games, theatre, and swimming. Lately, she has started to study entomology as a hobby.

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