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This article describes problems that occur in buried downspuout or roof leader drains, including broken or clogged lines that cause basement flooding. This article series discusses how to choose, install, diagnose & maintain roof gutters & downspouts, & roof drainage systems to prevent building leaks and water entry.
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Also see DOWNSPOUT LEAKS or start this topic at DOWNSPOUT / LEADER DEFECTS; also see GUTTER DEFECTS LIST for other sources of wet basements or crawl spaces caused by problems with the roof drainage system.
Some visual clues that indicate a clogged buried downspout drain line include:
Buried aluminum downspouts (photo, below left) corrode through and leak fairly quickly as the aluminum metal is thin and when exposed to corrosive soils or even acidic water from leaves and vegetation (or salt from ice-melts used nearby) the material will be damaged.
The results are hidden leaks below ground that lead to basement or crawl space water entry.
A better design uses plastic for buried downspout lines; the plastic should be solid piping and should be brought above grade for the downspout connection (photo, above right).
Don't mistake as part of the roof drainage system an aluminum downspout that has been used as a cosmetic cover for HVAC refrigerant lines as we illustrate in our photo at below left.
Some A/C installers use an aluminum downspout to cover the refrigerant and condensate lines that are routed from an attic-mounted air handler down to an outdoor ground-level compressor. But do not use downspout materials as electrical conduit.
In our second photo of downspout materials used to cover air conditioning refrigerant piping (above right), notice that the extension and elbow on the water-carrying downspout (the right-most downspout of this pair) has fallen off and we have a splash area on the ground at an "inside foundation corner" - conditions likely to cause basement water entry.
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