We might talk incessantly about rain gutters, gutter coverings, and gutter screens, but downspouts are just as important to us. They should be equally important to you, too. Downspouts play an integral role in preventing rainwater from promoting erosion and damaging your home.
Consider this post our introductory guide to everything you have always wanted to know about downspouts. If there is one thing homeowners tend to not truly appreciate about their drainage and gutter systems, it is the importance of their downspouts.
Just in case you don't know what a downspout is, it's that vertical tube that runs from the gutter down to the ground. It is so named because water runs down it from above. Your typical home has downspouts at every corner. Larger homes may have additional downspouts at strategic locations between the corners.
Downspouts perform two critical functions. First, they provide an outlet for the gutters. Without such an outlet, the gutters would overflow. Then there would be no point in having them on your house to begin with.
Second, downspouts facilitate the diversion of water away from the home in a specific direction. Depending on where downspouts are located and the direction their outlets are pointed in, a homeowner can direct diverted water to a targeted location.
Though there are exceptions to the rule, a typical downspout connects to the gutter through an appropriately shaped transition piece on the gutters underside. The top piece of the downspout screws into the transition piece, then bends toward the house. The main downspout body connects to that piece and is held tightly against the house with a bracket.
Depending on the style of gutter and how it is attached to the house, several transition pieces may be necessary to complete the bend from gutter to house. Each transition piece in the line is attached to the one before with sheet metal screws.
One of the most common causes of overflowing gutters are clogged downspouts. If clogs impede the flow of water, gutters cannot drain fast enough. They overflow instead.
So how do downspouts get clogged? It is usually a case of accumulated debris in the gutter eventually making its way to the downspout. Aclump of debris large enough to bring the inside diameter of the downspout intoplay can easily get stuck anywhere along the line.
Occasionally, downspouts end up getting clogged by animals that have, for one reason or another, decided to make their homes inside. Clogs caused by animals are the exception to the rule.
Downspouts need to be maintained just as diligently as the gutters. Right off the top, this means regularly scheduled cleanings. Keeping downspouts free of clogs is as easy as hitting them with a garden hose.
In terms of the exterior, a downspout's finish should last for many years. When paint does begin to fail, a good primer and fresh coat of paint takes care of things. Where you notice rust, it should be cleaned away before priming.
One last thing in this regard is to pay attention to sheet metal screws. Whenever you are cleaning your gutters and downspouts, check for missing screws. Replace as necessary. This will keep your downspouts firmly in place, even in bad weather.
Never underestimate the power of a well-designed downspout to drain your gutters and divert water away from your house. Downspouts are a critical element to any gutter system. They should not be ignored in terms of home maintenance.