Your gutter system is your first and most critical line of defense against water damage.
Not only is it a primary part of your house’s drainage system, but it’s also essential for protecting your roof, basement, foundation, and landscape from water collection issues.
The purpose of your gutter system is to ensure that water from rain is directed away from your home’s perimeter. This brings about the question: where does gutter water go?
Today’s guide explains the proper destinations of gutter water, how it’s driven away from the house, and possible drainage solutions for downspouts.
The gutters on your house are connected to a downspout, which is a pipe that hangs vertically on the side of the house.
When water is collected in the gutter, it flows down the downspout to be directed away from your home and into a drainage location.
The minimum distance that a downspout should drain is 6 feet away from the house. It’s even better if you extend it to 10 feet away.
You want to make sure that the downspout is far enough that the drained water doesn’t soak through the walls of your basement or foundation.
Additionally, each downspout line in your system should drain from a maximum length of 35 feet of gutter. The preferable gutter distance per downspout is 20 to 25 feet.
Now that you understand that that gutter water gets directed away from your house via downspouts, you should know that there are various ways to get the job done.
Here are the most common and effective ones:
Downspouts are the standard structure for carrying water from gutters and away from the house. It’s typically located above the foundation, about 3 to 5 inches.
To extend the downspout, you can use extensions that attach to the downspout via elbows.
An extension is usually made out of metal, specifically aluminum, or durable plastic. Some types feature built-in ridges to remove debris found in the water that flows through and prevent clogs.
You may choose to use a buried downspout. This is where the end of the downspout -also known as the tail- is buried underground instead of letting it hang and protrude above the ground.
A lot of house owners choose to install buried downspouts for the extra safety they offer.
You see, when the tail of the downspout is left exposed and sticking out from the house’s wall, there’s a risk that kids, guests, pets, and even older folks may trip over it and fall. This could lead to a range of injuries.
To prevent such accidents from happening, you can opt for burying your downspout. This is also beneficial for plant growth as it helps recycle gutter water back into the ground.
That said, if you want to bury your downspout, you need to make sure it extends at least 18 inches underground. This is to guarantee the positioning of the downspout beneath the frost depth.
Another reason why you may want to go for buried downspouts instead of conventional exposed ones is the overall aesthetics of your house.
With the downspout hidden under the ground, the appearance of your home won’t be interrupted by a pipe that sticks out like a sore thumb and brings down its curb appeal.
Another way to direct gutter water away from your house is to install a drain pipe that connects to the downspout and runs under the ground.
The installation process of a drain pipe is pretty demanding.
It involves digging a trench across the length of your yard, placing a pipe inside it, connecting it to the downspout, ensuring it drains in the proper rainwater drainage line, and then sealing the hole over it.
Splash blocks can also do a good job of diverting water away from your house. These blocks are positioned below the tail of the downspout where they’re slanted or tilted in the opposite direction of the house.
As a result, splash blocks funnel water away from your home.
There are temporary and permanent versions of splash blocks. We prefer the latter as they don’t get displaced due to rough weather elements.
A storm drain is connected to the bottom of the downspout to carry gutter water into your driveway and then to the street. As such, you should only use storm drains in areas with low foot traffic.
You can extend your existing downspout with a downspout pipe if you’re looking to drive gutter water farther away from your house’s perimeter. To get this done right, you’re better off consulting with a plumbing professional.
A StealthFlow downspout connector is made out of plastic and attaches to your downspout in a way that makes it practically invisible. It’s positioned quite low across your yard, creating a path between the downspout and the drain pipe.
Now that you’re familiar with the different methods you can move the rainwater away from your house, let’s talk about the various drainage channels you can choose as a destination for your gutter water.
Building a drainage pit -also referred to as a drainage well, dry well, soakaway pit, or soakaway well- is a safe way to direct gutter water away from the foundation of a house.
It’s an affordable, simple method that allows you to effectively deal with large volumes of water.
Before you start building a drainage pit, you need to make sure that’ll be at least 10 feet away from the house and above the level of groundwater. The hole should also be wide and deep enough to accommodate the volumes of water that your downspout typically drains.
Additionally, don’t forget to check the local laws regarding excavating drainage pits in your area.
The steps of this process include the following:
- Digging a hole in the ground of dimensions 3 feet long x 3 feet wide x 3 feet deep.
- Filling the hole with stones and gravel.
- Installing a drain pipe to bring at the lowest point to drive rainwater from the soil and into the hole.
A rainwater collection system isn’t as complex as a drainage pit but it’s more sophisticated than a rain barrel.
It relies on huge water tanks placed under the ground that collect gutter water from the downspouts. The tanks are equipped with filters and pumps to deliver water back up whenever you need it.
This drainage method works great as part of an irrigation system for a house garden.
Last but not least, a rain barrel is a generally easier method to channel gutter water compared to drainage pits and rainwater collection systems.
Here, you’ll just need to put the rain barrel in front of the downspout’s tail so it can collect the escaping rainwater and store it for later use.
Made out of plastic or wood, the capacity of a rain barrel ranges between 20 and 100 gallons.
So where does gutter water go? The answer depends on the drainage solution(s) you decide to install in your house.
From downspout extensions, buried drain pipes, and splash blocks to drainage pits, rainwater collection systems, and rain barrels, there are various ways to drive water away from your home safely and efficiently.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems and over 10 years of experience working in IT. As a homeowner, I love working on projects around the house, and as a father, I love investigating various ways to keep my family safe (whether or not this involves tech). I’ve also played guitar for almost 20 years and love writing music, although it’s hard to find the time these days.