The Importance of Gutters, Downspouts, and Downspout Extensions

The importance of gutters, downspouts, and downspout extensions should not be ignored. They are a necessary part of your home’s drainage system. Without them, rain water and melting snow from your roof would pool around your building’s foundation and eventually cause serious damage, such as cracks, flooding, and erosion. The purpose of gutters, downspouts, and downspout extensions is to direct rain water and melting snow away from your building’s foundation. Rain and melting snow flow down your roof and into your gutters. Gutters have a slight pitch or angle to them so water can flow toward the downspouts. Water flows down the downspouts and away from your building’s foundation via downspout extensions.

new gutter installation

What is a Gutter?

A gutter is a curved material at the end of your roof that’s often attached to the fascia. For residential structures, we offer seamless K-style gutters. For commercial applications, we offer both K-style and closed-box style gutters. The “K” simply describes the profile shape. The importance of a gutter is that they collect rain and melting snow from your roof – they prevent water from running off the length of your roof.

What is a Downspout?

A downspout is a formed tube that hangs vertically from your gutters. The purpose of a downspout is to collect water from the gutter and deliver it to the downspout extension. The importance of a downspout is that they contain the water. Versus downspout rain chains that do not collect water, but let it splatter against your house, door, and siding. Downspouts extend down the side of your house or building and stop 18 inches or so from the ground. At the end of the downspout is an elbow.

What is a Downspout Extension?

A downspout extension is a ground-level horizontal extension of your downspout. They are often made from the same material as downspouts and look identical. Downspout extensions can also be flexible plastic tubes. The importance of one is that they are the last step in directing water away from your foundation. In place of downspout extensions, some use splash blocks. These are essentially performing the job – directing water away from your foundation. Downspout extensions often hinge where they attach to the downspout. This is so you can fold them out of the way for mowing lawns. We often make latches to hold the downspout extension up.

downspout with extension

Possible Damage

The importance of gutters and downspouts cannot be stressed enough. Not having fully-functioning gutters, downspouts, and downspout extensions can lead to a number of foundation, property, and landscape damage. Common damages include foundation cracks, flooded basements, and damaged siding.

Foundation Damage

Without this water drainage system, water can pool around your foundation. Pooling water around a structure’s foundation can lead to a number of problems. When water pools around a foundation, it seeps into the ground and can lead to cracks in your foundation, and shifting of your foundation. Over time, structures can begin to sink.

cracked cement wall on front of house, possibly due to not diverting water away from foundation

Basement Flooding

A lot of homes have basements. Basements are either wholly or partially below ground level. Without a properly working gutter system, water can pool around your foundation, seep into the ground, weaken the foundation, and seep into your basement. Pooling water around your foundation can also run into window wells and windows.

Exterior Wall Damage

Without a gutter, downspout, and downspout extension, water running off your roof can splash onto your siding. This can cause paint damage, rot, and swelling. A lot of homes in Colorado have wood lap siding. This siding is often not solid wood, but pressed wood dust. Over time, when exposed to excessive water, this siding can swell, paint can peel.

Exterior Door Damage

Excessive rain splatter can also damage exterior doors. Paint on doors can peel, wood doors can swell from excessive rain splatter. This damage can be avoided by having fiberglass exterior doors and by directing rain water away from them.

Landscape Damage

Without a proper water drainage system, rain falling from one’s roof could cause erosion. Too much erosion could leave too much of your foundation exposed. Excessive rain falling from the roof could leave plants around your house with too much water, especially if the ground doesn’t have proper drainage.

The Bottom Line

Gutters and downspouts are very important. They should be at the ends of every roof, even simple tool sheds. They extend the longevity of siding, foundations, and prevent landscape erosion and puddles of water. If you’re the DIY type, there are pre-cut sectional gutters, downspouts, and accessories at your local hardware store. If you’re the hands-off type, we can help. We offer seamless residential gutters, and commercial gutters. For a free consultation and estimate, contact us.