Downspouts Split by Leaves, Swelling Wet Debris, or Frost
Downspouts may be split and damaged from swelling organic debris (leaves) or by freezing. The result is leaks against the building wall and foundation. Keeping a strainer at the gutter-to-downspout connection will protect the downspouts from becoming clogged and thus splitting.
Of course, if the downspout is connected to a buried drain line that is also blocked, water backing up into the downspout will, in freezing climates, still freeze and burst the downspout.
Downspout Leaks at Connections & Elbows
You might be surprised but the dislocated downspout "connection" shown at below-left is very common. Don't assume that the building's downspouts are all connected - it's worth a close look, especially if there are signs of water entry or dampness in the basement or crawl space.
At above right you can see two downspouts descending the building wall. The left hand unit is leaking a bit at the elbow. The right hand downspout has lost its elbow and extension, and leakage has rotted the building wall.
What is the proper direction or "female" end to "male end" of downspout joints?
The sketch at left illustrates the direction of water flow off of a roof - in this case a "flat roof" that drains to two roof scuppers.
The enlarged section of downspout connections (circled detail at lower right in the illustration) explains that downspout section connections and downspout elbow connections need to be installed so that water flow will always be directed to the interior of the next or "down-slope"
Our downspout extension line photos below show what happens if the downspout extension is too flat, or if it ends aimed "uphill" from the downspouts themselves: the downspout extension simply backs up and during heavy rain, spills by the building.
The photo at below left shows a black flexible 4" drain line and tee intended to conduct roof spillage away from the building. But following the drain line we found it ending pointing "up hill".
A closer look into the downspout extension connecting tee (below right) shows that the line contained standing water and was not draining.
Downspouts Emptying Below Decks & Porches
An often hidden basement water entry problem is traced to a downspout that the building owner thought was safely handled below an attached deck or porch.
On closer inspection we may find that the downspout spills below the deck and against the building, or that an extension has fallen off, or as we show at left, the downspout extension slopes up-hill.
Notice the water stains on the foundation wall near the downspout?
Particularly because many builders construct the deck before final backfill and grading, soil below the deck slopes back towards the building, increasing the risk of basement or crawl area water entry.
Sometimes desperate measures are needed to successfully extend a downspout out from below a deck. The photos below show a combination of a downspout that was spilling below a deck, an inside building corner, and a wet basement (not shown).
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