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Installing Downspouts? 3 Tips and Common Mistakes to Avoid

Posted on January 19, 2024

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Installing Downspouts? 3 Tips and Common Mistakes to Avoid

When it comes to safeguarding your home against the elements, a well-designed roofing system plays a crucial role. One often overlooked, but equally essential component of this system is the downspouts. Properly installed downspouts ensure efficient water drainage, preventing potential damage to your roof and the foundation of your home. In this blog post, we will delve into the world of downspout installation providing you with three valuable tips and shedding light on common mistakes to avoid.

What Is a Downspout?

Downspout

A downspout, also known as a waterspout or drain spout, is an integral part of a building’s rain gutter system. The primary role of downspouts lies not just in the collection, but also in efficiently directing rainwater from the roof away from your property’s foundation.

In many cases, downspouts are made from durable materials like copper, steel, or aluminum that can withstand various weather conditions over the decades. A well-installed and maintained downspout can last from anywhere between 20 to 30 years! 

Over time, consistent water exposure could erode the soil around your home, compromise its structural integrity, or create conditions conducive to mold growth. Therefore, taking the time to maintain your downspouts and making sure they’re in top condition before the rainy season becomes inevitable.

Steps For Installing Downspouts

Understanding each step of the installation process is a great way to ensure that the downspouts are installed properly the first time. Keep in mind that professional installation is always best, as professionals will be able to flawlessly install the downspouts and provide you with all the benefits. 

1. Measure And Plan For Installation

Before even starting the process, there’s a need for detailed and precise measurement, which  can make or break your whole project. Measure the ground, up to where the downspout will connect with the horizontal gutter channels to determine how long your downspout has to be.

You’ll also have to plan for capacity, as larger roofs require larger gutters and likewise, more substantial downspouts. Generally, one square foot of roof produces about 0.6 gallons of water during an inch of heavy rainfall. 

2. Mark And Cut The Downspout Sections

Once you have accurate measurements, mark the downspout and add about three inches to the measurement. This allows for room to attach the gutter elbows at both ends. Cut along these marks using a hacksaw or tin snips.

The straight nature of tin snips can make cutting difficult, especially around corners, so in these situations, use a Dremel tool fitted with a metal-cutting wheel whose compact design handles curves better.

3. Fasten The Downspout Components Together

Once cut, fit both elbows, one at the top connecting to the gutter channels, and another below to redirect water away from the foundation of your home. Secure these sections together using sheet metal screws by placing two opposite each other along all the joint intersections ensuring sturdy connections that withstand harsh weather conditions.

Prepare to fasten components by drilling pilot holes. These guide the screws into the materiaal without causing the downspouts to tear or warp. It also ensures a secure fit with less effort yet maximum security.

4. Secure The Downspout To The Exterior Wall of The Building 

With the components assembled, we’re now ready to attach the downspout to the wall. Strap it onto the sides of your house using U-shaped brackets commonly referred to as “pipe bands.” Space brackets about 10 feet apart vertically and screw them securely into your siding, ensuring a tight grip.

While many homeowners choose vinyl siding because of its easy maintenance, fastening downpipes directly to the siding may lead to condensation accumulation that would eventually damage it. In such cases, install mounting blocks that protect against water but still provide a stable fixture for your brackets.

5. Direct Water Away From The Foundation With An Extension

Arguably, the most important phase is redirecting the rainwater safely away from your home’s foundation to prevent possible destruction. Fit the lower elbow with an extension piece that carries water at least 5 feet from your home.

This can be achieved through various products like flexible roll-up extenders or splash blocks placed underneath the mouth of the downspout. Their roles are essential for diverting water away from the foundation, thus preventing any potential leaks or dampness that could form over time.

If you’re wondering what tools may be needed for the process, a cordless drill comes in handy during screw-fastening. It’s an essential item required for setup, so ensure you have one within reach, as a successful installation depends on it!

Common Challenges During Installation, and Their Solutions

Despite the seemingly straightforward process, installing downspouts can come with its own unique set of challenges. Among these are fitting the elbows and bends properly and ensuring adequate water flow through the system.

1. Properly Fitting the Downspout Elbows and Bends

First on our list of common challenges is learning how to attach a gutter elbow to a downspout. This essential piece helps direct water away from your home, safeguarding the integrity of your structure. But, without proper installation, leaks can occur, rendering your whole gutter system practically useless.

To avoid this, follow these steps:

  1. Hold up: First, hold the elbow in place against the gutter outlet.
  2. Trace: The next step is tracing around it so you will know exactly where it needs to go.
  3. Install: Align the elbow properly during installation to ensure a tight fit that prevents leaks once it starts raining.

2. Troubleshooting Issues with Water Flow

A well-functioning downspout system is one where water flows smoothly through all sections. Unfortunately, though, blocks or mistakes in the architectural design could force troubleshooting. 

Learning a couple of strategies to handle this could save you headaches moving forward. One of these strategies includes running water via a hose through the top end of the gutter channels and then checking to see if it pushes out the blockage. 

If this process fails, try inserting a plumber’s snake, or a similar tool, through the top of the downspout to dislodge any stubborn obstructions stuck inside the pipes. 

Conclusion

It’s crucial to remember that while downspout installation may seem straightforward, it does require dedicated planning and precise execution. To ensure an effective installation, the key is accurate measurement and careful marking before cutting even begins. To get the most precise and effective downspout installation, hire a professional roofing contractor who has experience handling gutter systems. 

Contact The Professional Roofers In Tulsa, OK, For Your Downspout Installation

Installing downspouts may seem like an easy DIY task, but the complexities that pop up during the installation call for professional help Therefore, it is best to leave the task to professionals who are equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge. If you are thinking about installing downspouts in your Tulsa home or a commercial building, contact the professionals at A. Fricker Roofing & Waterproofing. The roofers at the company are skilled professionals who have mastered the art of gutter and downspout installation. Contact us today at (918) 402-7167 and talk to one of our experts.

A. It is recommended to clean your downspouts at least twice a year, preferably in the spring and fall. However, if you live in an area with a large amount of trees, you may need to clean them more frequently to prevent debris buildup.

A. While some homeowners may choose to install downspouts themselves, hiring a professional ensures proper sizing, placement, and overall functionality. Professionals can also identify potential issues and address them during the installation process.

A. Yes, there are eco-friendly downspout options available, such as those made from recycled materials. Additionally, some downspouts can be integrated with rainwater harvesting systems, allowing you to reuse rainwater for landscaping purposes.