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Gutter Downspout Facts: Solutions to Common Gutter Problems

What is a Downspout?


A downspout is an essential part of any effective gutter system.

It protects your home from water damage and other buildup to keep your structure safe, sound, and beautiful. But it must work properly. If you’re having problems with your downspout or gutters, we’re here to help.

You may be thinking downspout? Is that different from a down spout?

They’re the same words, of course, but this isn’t just any water spout. We’re talking specifically about the gutter addition that keeps your home and property safe from rainwater damage — a downspout.

A downspout serves as a gutter drain. It’s a pipe that carries rainwater from your gutter to the ground or your ground-level drainage system. It keeps water from dripping or splashing down the face of the building or collecting around the base of your home.

Downspouts are typically the last link in the chain for quality gutter systems. A properly installed downspout makes it possible for your gutter system to function without issue. Tired of Gutter Cleaning? Click for Free Estimate!

Do You Need a Downspout?

You’ve invested in a gutter system to protect your home. Downspouts are an important part of this system.

They help you maintain the integrity of your structure and aesthetic choices. They help keep your home safe and beautiful. Your gutter system simply won’t work to its fullest capacity without well-functioning downspouts.

Unfortunately, people often associate downspouts with gutter problems. They can easily become the location of visible issues with your gutter system.

But the problems may be a bit more complex than a clogged gutter. Here are some common gutter- and downspout-related problems and our professional suggestions to fix them.

Common Gutter and Downspout Problems

ruined downspout

In a well-working system, rainwater moves down your roof, into and along your gutter, and down the downspout to the ground. Ideally, downspouts assist with your gutter drainage setup at the ground-level.

If debris builds up in your gutters or they become overfilled with water, this system is interrupted. You’ll also have problems if there is no working downspout to carry the water to the ground.

Water may instead pour out of the gutters or flow over the gutters all together. It can drip or wash down the sides of your exterior walls. Accumulating water may also damage roof shingles and seep through the roof causing structural damage and water issues. These problems can affect both your roof and the structure and interior of your home.

Quality, professionally-installed downspouts resolve many gutter-related problems including

• debris buildup
• roof damage
• shingle damage
• exterior wall damage
• moisture leakage
• organic growth on the roof
• gutter wear and tear
• foundation and basement water problems

Debris Buildup

Many issues result when the downspout is clogged. Debris can easily build up at a downspout if the conditions are right. This happens when the downspout opening is too small or if it’s a poor fit for your gutter. In fact, the rest of the gutter might even be clear of debris. But gutters are pitched so debris flushes down the downspout, so clogging issues naturally occur more frequently if the downspout opening is too small or blocked.

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Shingle Damage and Exterior Wall Damage

Beyond debris buildup, other issues result from the orientation of your roof and gutters. If you have an upper roof that spills over the gutters or through a downspout onto a lower roof, water can build up in volume and velocity by the time it hits the lower roof. It may also carry debris as it flows. In these cases, shingles may lose their grit or be eroded over time.

This sort of shingle damage is common. It can lead to premature roof aging or even further issues. Exterior wall damage is a possibility too.


Shingle companies like GAF do not cover the damage that occurs when gutters and downspouts drain onto lower roofs. Under the terms of their limited warranty, this damage is not their responsibility.
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Moisture Leakage

This can cause further problems for your home. As a result of shingle erosion and damage, water may leak between shingles. Higher moisture content leads to the growth of organic material like algae or mold.

Gutter Wear and Tear

When water from an upper roof drains to a lower one, it places a greater strain on your gutters. Your gutter system is doing double the work. It has to filter water twice and support more volume the second time around at the lower roof gutters. This takes a toll on your gutters.

Foundation Issues

If water falls over the side of the house or doesn’t drain away from the house properly, it can seep into the crawlspace or basement and create a musty environment in your home. It can also lead to compromise and cracks in your foundation.

Needless to say, a quality gutter system shouldn’t have these problems. But don’t worry. We do have some simple solutions for you

Downspout Solutions for Everyone

installing downspout

Water management is so important. Your gutter system should take care of this for you. With MasterShield’s installation recommendations, your gutters and downspouts will be more effective, last longer, and keep you worry-free.

With proper installation, you’ll have few issues with your downspout. Set your gutters up for success by beginning with a quality system that incorporates gutter guards to ensure the highest function. MasterShield Gutter Guards’ technology offers our Patented Hi-Flow Panel and copper inclusion along with downspout gutter guards and proper pitch installation. This technology combined with skilled installation will minimize the risk of debris in your gutters, water overflow, and organic growth on your gutters.

You are less likely to deal with these common issues from the start.

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Downspout Solutions for Your Multi-Level Roof

If you have a multilevel roof system with gutters at each level, you should use downspouts not only to drain water to the ground but also between levels. This link will eliminate many common roof damage and gutter problems and may increase the life of your gutters as well. They can be installed through the gutter guard on the lower level to maximize the support of your gutter guard system.

Tips for Proper Installation

The most important things to think about regarding downspout installation are the connection between the downspout and gutter and the drainage location.

How to Connect Gutter Downspouts

It’s absolutely essential to connect your downspout to the gutter properly. This means
• using proper tools
• ensuring the opening is the right size for your gutters

While a skilled professional should know how to support you with this, here are the details you should know. Aluminum K-style gutters are the standard for most homes east of the Rockies. These gutters are named for their shape. They have a large water capacity and are strong and durable. We recommend a ratio of one downspout for every 20 feet of gutter

Downspouts are meant to fit the size of the bottom of the gutter. So, for aluminum K-style gutters, aluminum downspouts are typically 2x3 inches for a 5-inch gutter or 3x4 inches for a 6-inch gutter.

Everything hinges on this one spot: the opening into the downspout below. Gutters and downspouts have no natural way to connect. To link them, you use an accessory called a gutter outlet.

Gutter outlets are also called gutter drops. You should find a gutter outlet that is the same shape as your downspout.

Make sure your gutters are fitted with this type of outlet. The wider the outlet, the more water can drain. This makes it harder for debris to get trapped and clog your gutter.

To ensure water can flow properly, you really want the opening to be as close as possible to the size of the spout that’s been fitted. A special tool called a gutter opening tool is important to make this cut precise. The cheapest installers may not go to this effort, so ask your installer whether they have a gutter opening tool and if they are planning to use it.

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Downspout Drainage Tips

Downspouts should empty away from your home to avoid all the water from the gutter system seeping into the ground near your foundation.

It’s worth the effort to keep rain from your gutter system at least 6 feet away from your foundation if you live on level property. If the downspout drains to land that drops away from your house, you may not need to go as far.

If your downspout drains near your home, use a downspout extension at the end of the downspout to help. This additional piece for your downspout carries water away from the base of your home. It can conveniently be raised to mow your lawn. The extension hinges on a temporary hook. You raise it to take care of your grass, then drop the downspout back down to transport water safely away from your basement or foundation.

You Know What To Do

Choose the highest quality materials. Make sure your gutters and downspouts are installed by a skilled professional. Keep your downspouts working properly.

Being proactive with your gutters this way may allow you additional protection under your roof warranty. It will feel good to know you are enhancing the effectiveness of your gutters and protecting your home.

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