Types of Downspouts – Read before You Buy

What’s a rain gutter system without downspouts? These roof drain pipes serve like a human throat. They let water run through and land on earth. But the way they do that, the amount of water they can channel, how far away from the home foundations they can drain water are all determined by their type.

While all downspouts work on the same principle, to channel water away from the home, they differ in terms of their characteristics.

There are different downspout materials, different sizes – styles too. What’s important is that the water travels fast through this vertical tube and as far away from the home – hence, all such things matter. But when you try to find products for your downspout and gutter installation, you need to choose based on your personal needs (for example, the height of the house), the gutter system, the local climate.

Did you know that the first downspout was used on the Tower of London in 1240 to channel the rainwater away from the structure and thus, protect it because it was freshly whitewashed?

gutters_installationThe anatomy of gutter downspout systems

Downspouts are connected with the gutter through a drop outlet followed by many smaller parts that turn and twist (or not), based on the structure. These parts include the main downspout section, elbows, brackets, etc.

The downspout materials

The materials used for the construction of downspouts are the same with that for the construction of rain gutters – and they are matched, for better aesthetics and performance. The usual choices?

•   Steel downspouts are often galvanized so that they won’t corrode – although this depends on the quality of the material as well – not all of them are created equal. The advantage of this material is its strength and low price.

•   Copper is an excellent material for both your residential gutters and downspouts. The material is extraordinary in terms of durability and resistance. It won’t rust, it won’t bend and it will look incredibly beautiful, giving a vintage, industrial touch to the curb appeal. Its downsides? Copper is very expensive. It’s also very heavy and so, it takes great expertise to install copper downspouts – and gutters, for that matter, correctly.

•   Aluminum is the exact – so to say, opposite of copper. It’s lightweight and inexpensive. It might not share its beauty but still have an industrial, sleek feeling. Due to its lightweight, it’s easy to install. The downside here is that aluminum is easily dented. If the downspouts are not protected, if they suffer some impact, they will most likely get damaged.

•   Vinyl downspouts are a good choice if you want a long-lasting material that won’t rust and won’t cost much. It can be painted, if you like the idea. But it may lack the aesthetic results of its metal counterparts.

Downspout sizes and shapes

There are rectangular, K-style, and round downspouts, while their sizes vary too and are always matched with the gutters.

Round downspouts come in sizes from 3” to 6”. The rectangular downspouts are 4×5, 3×4 and 2×3. K-styles are in 3×4 and 2×3 sizes.

How to ensure better drainage

•   You need one downspout for every gutter of approx. 20/25′ – never more than 30′ apart. But the distance between them is also subject to the rainfall. If your area experiences heavy rainfalls, it’s best to have two downspouts instead of one. This will give the gutter system the chance to better (faster) control the rainwater flow off the roof, into the downspout and then on earth.

•   Where does the water shed? You need to be sure the watershed area is away from your home to avoid problems with the structure and foundation. If it’s close enough, you can use downspout extensions.

•   It’s important that the downspout and gutter outlet capacity match. It’s also vital that the size of the downspout must be consistent and the less the zigzagging the better.

•   Before you choose downspout, you need to consider the roof pitch, the design, and the shape and get a product that matches the gutter size, material, and style.