What comes to mind when you think of the word “spout”? If you started humming a nursery rhyme about an itsy bitsy spider, then you likely had a great preschool teacher. A downspout is exactly what you think it is: a vertical pipe attached to your home’s gutters that’s built to drain water safely down to a drainage system. It’s common for homes with gutters to have a downspout that lands directly down the side of the house. However, keeping the basic setup can actually be damaging to your home.
With water vertically pouring down the drain, the ground surrounding your house takes a pounding from the constant rainwater. This can easily weaken the foundation of your home, which can lead to extensive and costly repairs. Without a proper drainage system in place, these possibilities can become realities quickly. There is some good news, especially for those who take action by installing a downspout extension.
A downspout extension is an attachment you can apply to the bottom of your gutter drain. With this extension, you will be able to divert rainwater away from your home’s foundation, and lead it with the pipe to an appropriate drain.
Now you may be wondering how difficult it is to attach a downspout extension? Well, surprisingly enough, that question is a complicated one to answer. This is because there are many types of extensions you can add to your gutters, and each type of extension has its own list of pros and cons. Allow us to walk you through a few types of downspout extensions!
Types of Downspout Extensions
There are actually several options to choose from when it comes to downspout extensions. These attachments can also be made out of a variety of materials as well. Some people may prefer the flexibility of a vinyl pipe, while others may select the durability of a metallic extension, likely made from aluminum. The material you choose may be based on the type of extension you are looking to utilize for your property. Here are three popular types of downspout extensions you can apply to your home.
Elbow with Splash Guard
Possibly the most common type of extension, an elbow extension is an angled attachment you can add to the bottom of your gutter drain that will direct the rainwater closer to the desired drainage location. Adding a splash guard to the elbow will allow water to more accurately flow down the ideal runoff point for your home.
The elbow attachment and splash guard can be made from multiple materials. Likely, you will be able to find a combination of extension pieces that will match your gutters esthetically. However, if you are looking to do a specific route with this style of extension, you may wind up mixing and matching materials and colors. For example, if you need to direct the flow of water from your aluminum gutters to a certain angle, you may need to utilize a vinyl elbow.
There are some limitations that come with the elbow and splash guard combination for your home. Typically, the elbow itself may have a short range to lead out the water from your gutters. While the splash guard will help assist the elbow in guiding the water, a torrential downpour will likely overwhelm the system and lead to an overflow of water into the yard. But, for areas with light rainfall year round, this could be an ideal, easy fix for your home.
Elbow with Extension
Similarly with the previous option, an elbow attachment can help divert the flow of water from your gutters. With the addition of an elongated extension, rainwater can be further steered away from the base of your home.
While this type of extension can be made out of a versatile material, you will ideally need to utilize an extended drain made from a metallic material. The most common metal for this is aluminum, due to the material being highly resistant to rust and corrosion, which is ideal for dealing with rainwater. A typical extension is approximately three feet in length. To help from possible clogging, it is ideal to angle this long arm downward to help the flow of water into the drain. In addition, you can still use a splash guard to aid the extension with heavy drainage, and further ensure your gutters do their job.
However, much like the elbow with splash guard option, there are some downsides to applying the extension. First, with the rigged nature of the aluminum arm, you will be unable to turn the extension or risk damaging it. Second, if the end of your downspout is too low, you will either have issues with the angle of the extension, or must take evasive measures to ensure the gutter is able to drain properly. Finally, depending on where the extension may be placed, it may become a tripping hazard in your yard.
For the final option, we have the most drastic measure you can take when it comes to your downspout extension ideas on the table. Trenching is the process of digging into the lawn with the purpose of installing pipes from the downspout to an exact location for draining rainwater. The overall process includes plotting out the route for the extension, digging out a portion of the land for the pipes, laying out the pipes, attaching the extension to your downspout, and filling in the trench.
This process may be the most evasive option on the table, but it has the most potential to help your home. With the ability to exactly place the drainage system to the ideal location in your yard, trenching is an enticing option compared to the more rigid alternatives. Keep in mind that you will need to use non-metallic pipes, as vinyl or PVC pipes will last a lot longer underground than aluminum or other metallic options.
There are some obvious disadvantages when it comes to trenching. With the evasive excavation of a portion of your lawn, trenching can feel like a stressful and overwhelming endeavor. Additionally, the range of error to take on this task is high, especially if you are not trained for such an undertaking.
Benefits of Downspout Extension
Overall, the benefits of adding a downspout extension to your home far outweigh the negative aspects. As mentioned earlier, utilizing a downspout extension can help preserve your home’s foundation. If your gutters continue to pour rainwater directly into the ground next to your home, the ground will soften and shift, and cracks could very well form in the foundation. Fixing your home’s foundation is much costlier than any of these preventive measures above.
Additionally, the possibility of water damage or leaks in your home will be less likely to occur around the house. Untreated water damage to your house can lead to damaging wood or black mold. It is important to keep any points of potential water damage, and utilizing a downspout extension will help prevent such damage to occur with the most likely location around your home for water leaks.
If you take pride in maintaining your yard, then investing in a sturdy gutter drainage system is vital for your lawn’s health. Without proper drainage, your lawn could experience prolonged flooding from a large rainfall. Pooling water will drown your grass, which can lead to invasive weeds to grow, and prevent you from properly caring for your yard. Utilizing an effective downspout extension will help preserve your lawn, and allow you to get back to mowing much quicker from an afternoon storm.
How Much Could Downspout Extension Set You Back?
Now each of these options will vary depending on which you select. For example, an elbow will only set you back $5-20, and you can find a splash guard for as low as $6. If you are a DIYer, you may be able to take care of this in no time.
Of course, it is always wise to seek a reputable and experienced technician if you feel like you may need experience. This is especially true when it comes to the trenching option. While going this route will be much more expensive than the other options, costing a professional installation anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000, spending this money for a well-done job for this will be much more cost-effective than repairing structural issues to your home.
So which type of downspout extension is right for you? It all depends on who your home needs! If you are experiencing some minor water buildup at the bottom of your gutters, a simple elbow and splash guard should be a perfect fit. For homes experiencing puddles with a large radius, adding an extended arm to your elbow could help move the rainfall further away from your foundation. However, if flooding persists around your house, then taking evasive action by hiring a team of professionals to trench your home may be the necessary step for you.
As we approach another rainy year, now is the time to take action to install a downspout extension to your house. If you have any doubt about adding anything to your drainage system, remember that a minor headache now is always better than dealing with a much larger one in the near future.