How to Make a Downspout Extension in 4 Easy Steps
Originally posted 9/28/2018, updated 12/17/2020
Your home’s guttering helps to protect your foundation. It collects rainwater as it cascades across your roof and funnels it down the drainpipe. That’s all well and good, but where does this drainpipe end? Does it extend a fair distance into the yard, where it discharges the water safely away from your home, garage, driveway- any structure that erosion can damage? Once the water discharges, is the ground graded (sloped) in a way that allows the water to continue flowing away from structures naturally?
I ask this because when water collects around concrete, it applies pressure to that concrete and can also cause erosion below it. This water intrusion and pressure is what leads to a settling foundation, cracked and sinking slabs, and leaks into your basement or crawl space.
Since Andy Beery began Acculevel in 1996, we’ve repaired tens of thousands of foundations. Our experience has taught us that downspout extensions are one of the most effective ways to prevent hydrostatic pressure from damaging foundations. We recommend that homeowners have their downspouts discharge water -at minimum- 10 feet away from their homes. Unlike foundation repairs that should be left to the experts, extending your downspouts can be an excellent DIY project. In this article, we’re going to break this task into 4 manageable steps, complete with a video demonstration at the end.
What You Will Need To Extend A Downspout
A smart way to start every project is to make sure you have the necessary tools and equipment. Take a good look at the area around your home, and identify the logical places the downspouts should end. If you will need to avoid or detour around obstacles, such as a tree or patio, use flexible drainage piping. For each extension, you will also need:
- A good quality shovel
- At least 10 feet of 4 inch drainage pipe, either flexible or rigid
- A 90 degree elbow for connecting the drainage pipe to the downspout adaptor (only needed if using a rigid pipe)
- A downspout adaptor
- An internal coupling 3×4 inch
- A pop-up drain emitter
Step 1: Dig the Trench
Using the shovel, start digging a trench directly in front of the downspout attached to the house. You’ll want to dig 6-8 inches below the surface. Angle the trench away from the house, with a very slight slope downward from the foundation. Save the dirt; you will need some of it to bury the drainage pipe. The finished trench should be at least 10 feet long.
Step 2: Install the Extension
Lay the 4-inch drainage pipe in the trench. Attach one end to the existing gutter downspout, (include the 90 degree elbow if rigid pipe) using the adaptor. Make sure it attaches securely.
This photo was taken by an Acculevel crew member during installation.
Step 3: Connect the Pop-Up
At the other end of the drainage pipe, attach the pop-up to the pipe, using the internal coupling. Make sure the fit is snug. Your pop-up must be face up and as level as possible. Using the gravel, fill in around the pop-up. You want the gravel to hold the pop-up emitter in place. You will probably need to adjust the emitter as you go, keeping it level. Do not pour gravel on top of the pop-up.
Step 4: Now You’re Ready to Backfill
Once your extension is installed and well-placed, it’s time to backfill. Using the shovel, take all the dirt you removed from the trench and start refilling. Fill in around and on top of the drainage pipe. If you have additional gravel left, you can use this around the popup- but do not put it on top of the popup. You don’t want to compress or constrict the water flowing through the pipe.
When you reach the house, make sure you follow the grading (slope) of the home. Having too much soil piled up next to the house can also create many of the same negative effects you’re trying to prevent.
Are You a Visual Learner?
One of our efficient and capable crew members demonstrates this process in the video below:
Does Your Home’s Foundation Show Signs of Damage?
As a DIY fan, we’d like to also offer you our free Home Inspection Checklist. This is modeled after the Annual 21 Point Inspection that we perform for our customers (a 5 year inspection plan is $500). This checklist will walk you through performing a “check-up” of your home’s foundation, detailing what potential signs you should look for, and how to take action if you find potential issues.
We also have another free resource available; it’s our Symptom Checker. This interactive tool allows you to research possible concerns about your home. It will suggest additional articles and videos for those topics, so you can learn more about causes, warning signs, and repair options.
If Your Home Needs Repairs?
Find a high-quality experienced foundation repair or contractor to help you evaluate the issues and recommend the best solution(s). Before you sign a contract for any service, we urge you to always verify the company is reputable, insured, and accredited by the Better Business Bureau.
If you live in Indiana or the surrounding states, contact Acculevel. If you have noticed any problems and would like an evaluation, you can request a free estimate. An experienced project manager will examine the areas of concern and recommend the best course of action for you, to keep your home strong and healthy for years to come.
by Kelly Katerin Waterproofingwaterproofing
Over her twenty year career, Kelly has worked in a wide variety of fields: secondary education, nursing, biology, elder care, the postal service, multicultural development, and academia. She has developed a skill for translating industry-specific jargon into everyday language. Her goal is to share the knowledge and experience of the Acculevel team with homeowners, in a way that is both engaging and informative.
10 Best Spout Extensions For Your Home
Spout Extensions are used to drive water away from unwanted places such as foundations and basements. They can be conveniently attached to open drain pipes and divert their flow. We have covered some of the best spout extensions that you can buy and rated them with respect to durability & utility.
10. Genova AT575 Spout Extensions (15.54$)
This simple spout extension can be installed without the need of any tools and is entirely flexible. The extension is 4 inches in height and weighs 0.75 pounds.
9. Rainguard 9309W Automatic Downspout Extension(19.95$)
The extension automatically rolls out when it rains and can extend to almost 9 feet in length. The extension is available in multiple colors for you to choose from.
8. Suncast SB24 Rain Gutter Downspout (11.20$)
This tool prevents splashes if attached in front of your drainage pipe. It does not need any anchoring and is made from polycarbonate plastic. The entire machine weighs 1.1 pounds.
7. Adjust-A-Spout Downspout Extension(36.15$)
You lengthen or shorten the extension between 38″ to 72″. Flexible and lightweight, the product is painted white to match most drainage pipes.
6. InvisaFlow 4200 Stealth Spout Extension(10.95$)
The product has durable HDPE construction, and you can connect multiple such extensions to achieve the desired length. The tool is perfect for low-grade applications.
5. THERMWELL PRODUCTS DE300 Spout Extensions (7.31$)
The green extender is about 12 feet long and 7 inches in diameter. The Thermwell product opens automatically when it drains and can be installed easily without the need of tools. One of the best budgets buys on our list.
4. Thermwell Products 46″ Downspout Extender(10.59$)
Almost similar to last one only difference being that this one has a larger diameter but much smaller length. The product can be used anywhere around the household and comes in multiple colors.
3. InvisaFlow 4600 Stealth Flow Low Profile Downspout Connector (24.71$)
This tool channels the rain water away from your spout with relative ease and thanks to its 4 feet length, you can safely divert water away from your foundations. The size fits most residential downspouts and weighs 1.65 pounds.
2. “Amerimax Home-Products ” Downspout Extension(8.89$)
“Amerimax Home Products” have an array of useful tools for your household and this spout extension is one of them. Made from synthetic plastic, the extension is both durable and yet affordable. The spout is comparatively lightweight as it weighs only 0.8 pounds and has a length of 28 inches.
1. Flex-Drain 85010 Spout Extensions (8.89$)
The most popular downspout extension in the market today with nearly 100 customer reviews and a rating of 4.5/5 stars while being rated as an Amazon.com bestseller. The tool can be extended to 22 to 55 inches.
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$200 to $300 to extend two downspouts on average-size home
16 to 20 hours
Rain gutters and downspouts provide an efficient first step in controlling roof runoff. But if the rain or melted snow channeled off the roof isn't carried far enough away from the house, it will collect against the foundation wall or footing and seep into your basement or crawl space. One surefire way to avoid such water-related problems is to connect the downspouts to a series of buried drainpipes that lead far from the house.
The drainage pipe used for extending downspouts is non-perforated Schedule 40 PVC pipe with 4-inches-diameter. Some jobs will also require flexible drainpipe, which is invaluable for getting around obstacles or following uneven terrain. For our installation, we used it to snake around a few large boulders we couldn't pry out.
What You Need for a Downspout Extension
Along with the drainage pipe, you'll need an assortment of PVC elbows, T-fittings, couplings, adapters and other specialty fittings that allow you to connect together the pipe sections. Also, purchase a 16-ounce can of PVC primer and PVC cement for gluing together all the parts.
How to Extend Your Downspout
Installing drainage pipe is a straightforward job that any homeowner can handle. It’s typically done in three phases: digging the trench, laying the pipe and backfilling with soil. Read on to learn how to expend your downspout in 10 steps.
Step 1: Lay out the Trench
Use a string and 1x2 stakes to lay out the trench. Pound in two stakes 4 feet from the house and directly in front of each downspout.
Place other stakes spaced 8 feet apart in between. Tie the string to the downspout, then stretch it out and around all the stakes.
Step 2: Mark the Trench Line
Sprinkle flour from a can along the string to mark the trench line. Remove the string and lay cardboard along the edge of the white line.
Step 3: Dig the Trench
Begin digging the trench and dumping the dirt onto the cardboard. This is a trick that can make backfilling go much more smoothly later on.
The trench should be at least 6-inches-wide and slope down slightly (1 to 2 inches per length of pipe) so water drains away from the downspouts. Continue until you have completed the trench.
Depending on the trench length and, more important, the type of soil, digging the trench with a shovel can range from relatively easy to downright impossible. For our installation, we dug a 70-foot-long trench by hand through rocky soil, a job that took three weekends.
A quicker, easier alternative to hand digging is to rent a trenching machine or hire a backhoe operator. The average job can usually be done in under two hours. To minimize damage to the landscape, have the operator use a 12-inch trenching bucket.
The trench must be at least 10-inches-deep, but be aware that in cold-weather regions the pipe occasionally will clog with ice during periods of heavy precipitation. This condition most often occurs when the air temperature is mild during the day but drops below freezing at night.
Tip: The only guaranteed way to keep the pipe from freezing is to bury it below the frost line, which ranges between 32 and 48 inches in most areas of the snow belt. Digging a trench that deep is only practical when the end of the pipe drains into a dry well or is connected to an existing drain line.
Step 4: Lay out the Pipe Lengths and Fittings
Lay out all the pipe lengths and fittings beside the trench to make sure you've got all the necessary parts. Press a downspout adapter into a 3x4-inch reducer coupling and slip it onto the bottom end of the downspout.
Step 5: Install the Starter Elbow
Place a 90-degree elbow in the trench directly below the coupling and measure the distance between the two fittings.
Cut a piece of pipe to match with a handsaw, hacksaw or 12-in. power miter saw.
Swab the two mating surfaces with purple primer, then apply the cement to the same surfaces and immediately press the pipe onto the elbow.
Give them a slight twist, then hold them. The cement cures in just a few seconds.
Step 6: Insert Adapter and Reducer
Gently insert the downspout adapter and reducer assembly into the pipe protruding from the elbow after slipping the adapter onto the downspout; don’t glue this joint.
Then proceed down the trench to the first turn, lay in a 90-degree elbow and cut a length of pipe to fit between it and the assembly at the downspout.
Glue the parts together, then check with a level to make sure the pipe slopes down slightly.
Step 7: Continue Installation
Continue installing pipes along the trench until you reach the second downspout. Use standard couplings to connect the pipe sections.
Step 8: Begin Second Downspout
Make another adapter-and-reducer assembly for the second downspout. This time, glue a sanitary T-fitting to the pipe end and the other end of its trench.
Be sure the curved elbow of the T-fitting faces “downstream.”
Then glue the drainage pipe from the first downspout to the sanitary T-fitting.
Step 9: Finish Pipe Installation
Continue running pipe from the T-fitting along the trench. Again, use couplings to join together lengths of pipe.
Step 10: Finish the Job and Backfill
If you’re going to run flexible pipe, first glue a 3x4-inch reducer coupling to the end of the rigid pipe in the trench.
Then, slip the flexible pipe over the reducer and secure it with a stainless-steel pipe clamp.
At the very end of the trench, dig a wide, shallow hole (approximately 16-inches-deep x 36 inch-diameter) and line it with flat rocks or a 4-inch layer of gravel.
Lay down the pipe end on this rocky bed and cover it with more rocks or several inches of gravel.
In Step 3, you put down wide pieces of cardboard beside the proposed trench. Finish by backfilling the trenches, using a garden hoe to pull dirt off the cardboard and into the trench.
Inch downspout extension 4
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