Where Should You Direct Water From Your Gutters?

roofing drainage downspout into gutter

You have a problem on your hands if rainwater is ponding around your home. Protecting your home from pooling water is important, and adding downspouts or redirecting downspouts may be the first step. But where should you direct water from your downspouts?

Downspouts often lead water directly into the street when it rains or may be connected to the storm drain system. But there are other options.

Why Water Must Flow Away From Your House

Gutter systems are an essential part of your home that keeps it safe from water damage. During storms, rainwater runs down the roof, accumulates in the gutters, and is led toward the ground by the downspouts. 

You want to direct this water as far from your home’s foundation as possible. If your gutter system fails to lead rainwater from your property, here’s what could happen:

  • Damage to your home’s structure
  • Water stains
  • Cracks on the concrete or foundation 
  • Crawl spaces molding, rusting, or flooding
  • Flooding your garden
  • Increased pest and mosquito activity
  • Soil erosion

Places You Can Direct Water

There are a few different ways to collect rainwater so you can direct it away from your property:

Rainwater Collection System

You can install big, underground tanks that are connected to a pump and filter. They will collect water from the gutters and downspouts that can eventually be pumped out as needed and directed away from your home. Because a rainwater collection system is complicated to install, you may have to hire a pro.

By collecting rainwater, you can recycle it to water your lawn and landscape plants, which is good for the environment and saves on utilities.

Cost: A rainwater collection system can cost anywhere from $2,225 to $11,353, depending on the size of the system and whether you install it professionally or DIY.

Rain Barrel

water coming out of a drain pipe to rain barrel
Photo Credit: schulzie / Canva Pro / License

This is another environmentally friendly option that redirects and harvests rainwater. Installation is simple since all that you need to do is attach a diverter to the end of your downspout and direct it into a barrel underneath to guide water runoff from the roof into the barrel.

Rain barrels are available in different sizes and materials. Many homeowners blend the barrel into the landscape with plants and rocks. The water caught by the rain barrel can be repurposed during drought.

Cost: A 40-60 gallon rain barrel typically ranges between $120 to $160, depending on the material.

Drainage Pit

Drainage pits, also known as dry wells, drainage wells, or soakaway wells, is a method that redirects water without affecting your curb appeal. They are cost-effective with a design that is close to the ground, so it is easy to hide or blend into your landscape. However, you will need to check your local building regulations to see if pits are allowed.

You will need to dig a pit that is 3 feet wide and 3 feet deep and then fill it partially with gravel before installing a drain pipe. You may need to adjust the size of the pit according to the amount of water that typically comes out of your downspouts.

Unlike the above options, this method doesn’t harvest or recycle water, though it is the most cost-effective choice since all you’ll need is a shovel and a bag of gravel.

How To Redirect Water

downspout extension with masonry brick wall
Photo Credit: Justin Smith / Canva Pro / License

Here are a few ways to redirect rainwater away from your home:

Buried Drain Pipes

One solution to redirecting rainwater runoff from your home is to connect your downspouts to underground drain pipes and bury them. Typically made from PVC, these drain pipes guide and release the rainwater 5 to 10 feet away from your property. 

It’s a bit of a hassle since it requires some work and elbow grease, but it’s worth it if you want good drainage. You will need to dismantle your old downspout and connect an extension, as well as dig and fill a trench.

You should bury your downspouts about 10 inches deep. Since it requires digging, you will need to check your local regulations. Never dig until you know exactly where your electricity, gas, and water lines are.

Downspout Extensions

Downspout extensions, also known as gutter extensions, are attachments placed at the end of the downspout to channel water a safe distance from your home. They can be flexible so you can direct water wherever you need to, like a drain or your lawn.

Downspout extensions come in all kinds of shapes and designs! Some are open and resemble a shovel; others are tubes. Some are straight, and others bend like an elbow to help direct water in a different direction. Keep in mind that elbow-shaped extensions are prone to clogging and will need to be cleaned regularly.

French Drains

French drain of pebbles
Photo Credit: Robin Stott / Geograph / CC BY-SA 2.0

French drains are trenches dug in the ground and filled with a perforated pipe covered with several layers of rocks or gravel to help filter the water and keep the pipe in place. They are an effective method of controlling and redirecting water runoff in a specific direction.

This system helps reduce standing water and prevent flooding and damage to the foundation of your home.

Rain Gardens

Rain gardens are small, shallow depressions that contain deep-rooted native plants such as shrubs and perennials. They are not only attractive but also collect and conserve water.

Rain gardens lower the risk of flooding and provide erosion control by reducing runoff. They naturally capture stormwater and filter out pollutants, making them great for the environment and directing runoff away from your property.

Roll-Out Drain Sleeves

Roll-out drain sleeves, also known as pipe socks, are DIY drainage filters that attach to the base of your gutter and help prevent clogged pipes by filtering debris.

Drain sleeves will automatically roll out and guide rainwater away from your home during storms when the water flows through the gutter. Then, when the sleeve dries, it retracts.

Splash Blocks

A splash block of a downsprout
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Splash blocks are flat, rectangular pieces of concrete or plastic that funnel water away from your foundation. They are placed beneath a downspout’s bottom opening. They come in a lot of different designs, and some are even decorative and look like sculptures, which means they can be a nice addition to your landscape.

Splash blocks aren’t secure and can be easily moved, so they are a temporary solution. However, they still do a good job of keeping rainwater away from your home so long as it slopes away from the house.

Stealth Flow Connectors

Typically used in lawns with mulch, a stealth flow connector is a low-sitting PVC downspout extension connected to the bottom opening of your gutters to lead water away from your foundation.

It is nearly invisible from a distance and blends into your landscape when snugly tucked into the mulch, which is why it is called a “stealth” flow connector.

FAQ About Downspouts

How far should the downspout be from the end of the gutter?

Downspouts should be placed every 30-40 feet along the gutter system, usually at the corners of your home or at the end of each channel.

What angle should a downspout elbow be?

The most common angle for downspout elbows is 75 degrees. At this angle, it prevents clogs so that the flow of water is unhindered.

Do larger downspouts clog less?

Yes. Because the opening is wider, larger gutters are easier to clean and maintain because they have more space to remove debris. Because of this, they are less likely to clog.

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 installing drain pipes, contact a gutter professional in your area.

Main Image Credit: 12963734 / Canva Pro / License

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.