Avoid Downspout Drainage Disasters and Protect Your Home from Excessive Rain

By:    |   Published July 30, 2019
Construction worker installs pipe gutter system.

It’s raining, it’s pouring…and the average rainfall is soaring! According to Ohio’s Country Journal/Ohio Ag Net, the average rainfall across Ohio totaled 52 inches from June 1, 2018, to May, 31, 2019. That makes it the wettest yearlong period in Ohio since 1895! Not only does all that rain take its toll on the farming industry, but that means that well over 10 more inches of rain has fallen on rooftops across Ohio and Michigan this year than average. That excess rainfall can put a strain on downspout drainage systems everywhere. When your home’s downspout drainage system fails, damage to your foundation can result.

Here are some ways to protect your home from excessive rain and the damage that can result. If you have experienced water damage, there are different options for waterproofing depending on the severity of the damage.

How Downspouts Protect Your Home

When rain falls, it lands on your roof and gravity does the rest. Just one inch of rainfall on a 1,200 square foot roof will send nearly 750 gallons of water cascading down your roof – and that roof water needs to be diverted somewhere. The gutter and downspout system on your home is designed for that purpose.

The gutters capture the water and direct it to the downspouts which direct the water away from your home.  The downspouts work in conjunction with the grading of your property to help prevent water from collecting at the base of your home and damaging your foundation.

This downspout drainage system is important and needs to function properly all year round. Just one inch of snow on that same 1,200-square-foot roof would result in about 75 gallons of water when it melted.  That may not seem like a lot of water, but no one wants even 75 gallons of water in their basement! Multiply that by a five- to six-inch snowstorm and you’d be looking at about 375-450 gallons of water in need of diversion away from your home.

Poor Downspout Drainage Problems

Downspouts that can’t get water far enough away from your home are effectively useless.  Excess water and moisture will build up around your home and cause foundation cracks or flooding.

Downspouts without extensions are responsible for most of the issues. Your home derives no benefit from a downspout if it drops the water too close to your home or against grading that angles water back into your home. If your house is on a down slope extensions generally aren’t necessary, but if not, there is a good chance you will need extensions.

In some cases, homeowners get extensions that don’t function effectively. Keep in mind that proper downspout drainage moves water far enough away from your home that your basement and foundation are not affected by the excess water. If your downspout extension doesn’t get water far enough away from your home, it will simply drain back against the foundation.

It is also important to remember that no extension can be effective if you have clogged downspouts that don’t drain correctly.  Inspecting your downspouts to be sure they are working properly is part of the downspout drainage basics.

When a downspout is clogged, it could be damaged or allow backed-up water to spill out of the joints and drain against the foundation. No length of extension can be effective if water is leaking out of damaged gutters or downspouts.

Solutions for Ineffective Downspouts

If your downspout drainage system is not properly diverting water, the most obvious solution is to install a new downspout extension to get water farther from your home. Good news: there are many types of extension devices, some with unique benefits.

The standard extension which looks identical to the rest of a common downspout will generally be enough for most situations and can be installed quickly and easily.  There are also downspout extensions that collapse when they’re empty and roll out when they fill with water.

Some homeowners prefer this type as they can be useful to push water large distances from your home without needing a permanent extension running through your lawn or garden.

Remember to regularly inspect your downspout to look for rust or damage. Any place that water can leak through before reaching the end point of your downspout drainage system will lower the overall effectiveness. Metal downspouts can often be damaged over time from weathering and constant exposure to moisture.

If you discover that you need to replace or repair any part of your gutter and downspout drainage system, the sooner you address the issue the better!

Another important step in an effective drainage system is to clean up debris around your downspout.  It may be surprising to you how quickly dirt and debris from your roof can collect where water exits the downspout.

If you have trees around your home, leaves can be a big problem in the fall and, if not cleared away, seeds can sprout in the spring. No gutter system that looks like a planter has ever been effective at properly diverting water!  Be sure to regularly clean away debris that prevents blockages. It is important to get that done before winter, as it can be difficult to clear away frozen leaves or twigs that get stuck in the gutter and downspout drainage system.

Everything Starts with Your Gutters

Since your downspout drainage starts with water collected in your gutters it stands to reason that no matter how well your downspouts work, they can’t function well if your gutters aren’t working properly. Your gutters are your home’s best defense against everyday rainwater or snow melt. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, based on the 50-year period 1931-80, Ohio has historically averaged 37.57 inches of precipitation annually.

Even if only half of that precipitation was rain and the rest was snow, it would still mean that a 1,200-square-foot roof would average over 15,000 gallons of water falling on it per year. That’s nearly enough to fill a 15 ft x 30 ft in-ground swimming pool!

To avoid basement and foundation damage that can occur from thousands of gallons of water not being properly diverted away from your home, make sure to keep your gutters clean.

You may also want to consider installing gutter guards if you have to clean them frequently. It is worth the investment to keep your downspout drainage system working properly to keep your home and your foundation safe.

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Contact us online to schedule an appointment or give us a call at (419) 469-5833 and schedule your inspection today!

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