Why You Need a Functioning Downspout
A downspout is an essential part of your home’s gutter system. While it seems like a complex topic, the functioning of the downspout is very simple. It plays an integral role in collecting water that has amassed on your roof and pouring it out onto the ground.
If your downspout is not functioning properly, your home will certainly experience some issues. Read on to find out the importance of having a downspout that works well and efficiently.
What is a Downspout?
A downspout is a long, hollowed out tube usually made of aluminum that goes from the gutters of your home down to the ground. They collect the water from the gutter and channel it out to the ground.
More specifically, the downspout redirects the water away from your foundation by taking the water that collects within your gutters and pushing it through the vertical tube that runs alongside the home. Your downspouts are often found at the corners of your home where gutters meet. However, downspouts can be at any point that is low.
Where the gutters meet, a small hole is created so that the water will filter through this hole. A connecting piece then is inserted and tightly sealed, bridging together the gutter’s hole and the top of the downspouts.
That hole at the bottom of the gutter needs to be tightly sealed off so that the water only pushes through it rather than escaping out the sides.
The downspout usually has a curve at the bottom to help push the water out more efficiently. A splash guard can be inserted to help push that water farther out. Sometimes, a trench has to be dug so that the downspout goes into the trench, and a pipe connected to the downspout helps continually push the water out of the trench.
A trench is often only necessary if your home’s ground has certain features that make it so that water pools around the downspouts. To dig a trench, you’ll want to dig one that is at least 6 inches deep and 10 inches wide using a machine that you can rent at hardware stores.
At the end of a trench, you dig a hole that is around 3 feet wide and 16 inches deep. You’ll then need a trained professional or help at a hardware store to buy the right plastic or metal tubing to carry the water from the downspout through the trench.
Problems with Downspouts and Solutions
One simple problem with a downspout may be that it is missing a part. It’s important to inspect your downspout on a regular basis to make sure that all parts are present, including the lower part that curves to spit the water out.
One common problem is that debris collects in the downspout causing a blockage. This can be from a number of causes including twigs, sticks, dirt, or even debris from animals like parts of a bird’s nest.
If you notice water is collecting and you suspect a blockage, take apart the top and bottom downspout pieces and clear out any debris that may be in there. If you have a downspout that goes into the ground, you’ll want to check if the pipe that carries the water from the downspout is blocked. You can usually do this easily by using a plumbing snake and shaking out any leaves or clogged dirt.
If you notice water is pooling but there is no blockage from debris, the next step is to check your gutters. It may be that a debris blockage is in the gutters themselves rather than the downspout.
Potential Issues with Faulty Downspouts
A downspout that is not effectively pushing the water away from the house can lead to numerous issues. For example, a faulty downspout may actually push the water back towards the house rather than away from it.
This is why it’s important to get a technician with experience in gutter installation. Since the gutter and the downspout are connected by the hole that is cut, it is necessary for the hole to be the perfect size so that enough water drains through and so that the hole is not so small that it often gets clogged with debris.
An experienced worker will have the right tools needed in order to cut a precise, perfect sized hole.
One problem that can result is water leaking into the basement. If the water is pooling in one area and not draining as it should be, the water can seep through cracks in the foundation into the basement.
One way to address this is by making sure to extend the downspout at least ten feet away from the foundation. It’s important to address this cause of basement flooding because mold can quickly form from stagnant water coming in and going undetected. Similarly, the water can seep into a crawlspace, which can result in a musty smell throughout the home.
Another issue with downspouts that are not functioning efficiently is that yard erosion can occur. When the downspouts do not push water away from the foundation, that water will start to collect in one place.
The water can also circulate around in one area if there is no slope in the yard. This is especially common when heavy rainfalls occur, continually pushing the water to collect in that same place.
Because of the water sitting in the same places, the yard starts to erode. The grass is killed and all that is left is muddy dirt that takes away from the visual appeal of your home. The soil can also begin to erode, especially if you have the type of soil that doesn’t drain well.
This means that random holes will be left in your yard. One option is to add some type of natural looking rock that will carry off the water. You can put down a rubber liner first and then rocks or gravel. This will prevent silt from collecting in the rocks.
Make a Pop-Up Drain
One other option is to create a pop-up. You will want to pitch the drain pipe’s slope so that it goes below grade, and then pops up to spit out the water onto the street. Unless you have solid experience doing this kind of work, a professional can best help you with a pop-up drain.
Downspouts are Important
The downspout seems like it is not an important part of a house, but many problems can occur if it is not functioning properly. You can have water seep into your foundation, causing flooding in the basement or crawlspace.
This can result in mold and mustiness. Homes can also have yard and soil erosion, which is costly to fix. Be sure to clean out gutters and downspouts, and get a professional to help with more technical fixes if you suspect an issue may exist.