Kevin O’Connor learns about gutter downspouts from general contractor Tom Silva. Tom teaches Kevin what he needs to know, from the different types of elbows and outlets and a few tips on how to get that water away from the home.
Gutters collect the water from our roofing systems, and they shuttle it away from the house to protect our foundations. But, to get that water from the gutter to the ground requires a downspout. There are a lot of different downspouts and fittings to consider to move that rainwater far enough away from the home.
Rainwater and Snowmelt Need To Get Away From the Home
Gutters exist to protect our homes. Without them, the water drips off the edge of the roof eave, falls straight down, and damages our foundations, siding, and more. When the gutters collect that rainwater, it needs to exit the gutter system several feet away from the home. That’s the job of a downspout.
Gutter systems require outlets to allow the water to exit the system. There are two types of outlets available. One type is built into a short length of gutter, and the user connects it to the end of another full length of gutter, or even between two pieces of gutters pitched downward to the outlet. The other type of outlet can be installed anywhere in the gutter system. All the user has to do is drill a hole and fasten the outlet in place with caulk and rivets.
Rarely can a straight piece of downspout install directly to the gutter outlet. In most cases, the installer will need an elbow or two to route the downspout assembly from the gutter to the home and then around any obstructions that might exist. These elbows are important, and there are several types:
- A-Style: A two-piece downspout elbow that separates in the middle, and it bends front to back. This elbow is typically used to route the downspout assembly from the gutter to the home.
- B-Style: A one-piece elbow that bends side to side. It can be used against the home to route the downspout around obstructions. B-style downspouts are flat.
- AB-Style: An AB-style elbow transitions from one downspout style to the next, thanks to its perpendicular outlet styles.
As the water exits the gutter system, it needs to exit at least 3 to 4 feet from the foundation to protect the home. There are fold-down diverters that install on the end of the downspout and allow the water to drain away from the home, but they can then fold up for cutting the grass. Another option is an extendable pipe with an accordion-like mid-section that can extend and bend to reach wherever the water needs to go.
Tom Silva explains the options available for gutter downspouts to divert water away from a home’s foundation.
Tom recommends sealing any drilled holes with butyl caulking because it seals well to aluminum.