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Understanding the downspout’s purpose will help you keep your gutter system working smoothly.

Your gutter system is based on a fairly simple concept, one where channels direct rainwater down the roof and away from the home.

One of the key aspects of the gutter system is the downspout. Understanding the downspout’s purpose and importance will help ensure that you keep your gutter system operating at peak efficiency all year long.

What is a downspout?

A downspout is simply a hollow tube that runs from your gutter to the ground. It’s designed to carry water that collects in the gutter safely down the side of the house and away from the foundation. Downspouts are normally made from the same material as the gutter, giving the entire system a uniform look. While they can be placed at any low point along the gutter system, downspouts are normally placed near the corners of the home.

At the top

The connection between the gutter and the downspout begins with a hole in the bottom of the gutter. A connecting piece is placed into the hole and then sealed to the gutter to prevent water from escaping anywhere other than the hole itself. The top of the downspout then connects to the connecting piece, using either glue or metal screws.

At the bottom

Most downspouts are curved at the bottom to help carry the water away from the foundation. Concrete splash guards at the foot of the gutter can help to disperse the water and prevent erosion.

In some cases, the topography or landscape near the downspout prevents it from effectively dispensing water. In these instances, a trench is dug starting near the downspout and directed far away from the house. The end of the downspout is buried in this trench and a flexible pipe is connected to the downspout in order to move the water down the trench to its eventual destination.

Keeping downspouts clear

It’s fairly easy to recognize and remove a debris clog in the gutter itself, but not so simple in the downspout. Because it’s completely enclosed, it can be difficult to notice a clog. Be sure to check the the downspout every time you clean the gutters. If you find a clog, remove the downspout pieces and dislodge the debris. A clogged downspout can cause water to pool in the gutter.

Calculating how many you need

You always want to make sure that you have enough downspouts to handle the amount of water that will fall on your roof. Generally, there should be at least one for every 40-foot run of gutter, and gutters should not run around corners unless absolutely necessary.