One of the most overlooked and neglected parts of our homes are the downspouts. This is the piping that takes the water from our gutters and directs it to ground level.
I visit many different neighborhoods as I work and I often see crushed, clogged, cracked and even missing downspouts. The damage caused by these easily fixed problems can be enormous.
A downspout can be made of PVC pipe, most commonly aluminum and even copper, which is costly. As the weather beats on this piping and trees and bushes grow against them, and humans abuse them they are damaged and cease to do their job.
It is very easy to inspect your downspouts. You may need a ladder for some sections, but you may want to leave this to a professional. On some homes you can use a step ladder, or the slope of the roof may be low enough that you can easily walk on. Always remember safety first, if you are not comfortable with heights or the roof is too steep or high, hire a professional. Either way many of the issues can be dealt with from the ground.
Every house usually has more than one downspout, so it doesn’t matter which one you start with. Visually inspect the downspout. Start at the top to see if it is actually connected to the gutter, many times I have looked up at one of my homes and saw the downspout just hanging there.
If the downspout is not connected you will need to either access it from the roof or place a ladder there. You will have to place the downspout onto the connection from the gutter, which looks like a small funnel. Now to secure the piping together you will need to screw them together with screws, the best are stainless steel or aluminum which will not corrode, they can be purchased at any home center. Two to three screws per joint is all that is needed.
While you are this high up this is a great time to see if the connection to the gutter and the gutter is clear. You can read more on this from my article, Fall Gutter Maintenance, at Associated Content.
Now look at the downspout from the gutter on down, making sure all the connections are secured with screws. You will also need to have the downspout attached to the building, a loose spout can be blown off in windy weather. Straps for aluminum downspout can be purchased at any home center. PVC piping has special straps that can also be bought at any center.
The downspout will need to end where it will discharge the water away from your home. Simply having the water dump at the foundation of your house is not a good idea, the water will work its way in to the house.
The downspout will need to be routed to area that will allow the water to naturally drain away from the house. This can be done with aluminum downspout, PVC pipe or black landscape drainage pipe. I suggest using either the PVC or black piping because they are more durable.
Many homes use aluminum piping to take the water away, but most times it is crushed. All that it will take is a small amount of debris to clog a crushed downspout, now water can back up to the joints and sometimes the gutter. This is a bad condition. So if any of your downspouts have crushed downspouts I would have them replaced, usually with something more durable if it is near ground level.
You can even test the downspouts by using a hose to run water into the gutter, this will help to clear any debris and also show you how well the downspout works.
So as you go to each downspout make sure they are connected, secured, clear and drain away from your home.
As always be safe and call a professional if you are not comfortable with or unable to do the work.