How to Redirect Rainwater From a Downspout

Your house would probably be better off without gutters if they simply dump water in concentrated areas right next to its foundation. That's what happens when downspouts terminate with only an elbow or a splash block at the bottom. You'll find some effective solutions below.

  1. If foundation plantings or ground cover camouflage the downspouts, add a length of horizontal downspout, PVC or flexible drainpipe to the bottom of the existing downspout to extend it at least 5 to 6 feet (1.5 to 2 m) away from the house.

  2. If necessary, drive downspout-extension stakes into the ground to support and hold metal extensions in place, and place a rock or concrete splash block at the end to reduce soil erosion (see A).

  3. You can make a hinged extension, which tilts up and out of the way when not in use (see B). Remove the elbow (if any) at the bottom of the downspout.

  4. Cut the end off a length of downspout at a 45-degree angle using a hacksaw with a fine-tooth blade.

  5. Join the cut end to the bottom of the downspout with a hinge. Drill pilot holes for 1/4-inch (6-mm) aluminum sheet-metal screws or rivets.

  6. Alternatively, you can purchase a kit that has the hinge already riveted to two short lengths of downspout, which just slip into or over your downspout and extension. Or purchase a preassembled extension with a hinge and a short section that slips over your downspout. In both cases, secure the connections with 1/4-inch (6-mm) aluminum sheet-metal screws or rivets installed in drilled pilot holes.

  7. Installation procedures vary with the system, but typically you must shorten the downspout. You can do so with the downspout in place, or remove and reinstall it. Slip the downspout into the end of the extension device.

  8. Mount the device to the wall with screws as directed by the manufacturer. For stone, brick and other masonry walls, drill a hole for masonry anchors that will accept the mounting screws. The weight of the water collecting in the extension eventually lowers it to the ground, and it springs back up slowly as the rain stops.

  9. Use a digging shovel with a long handle to dig a trench for an underground pipe, the Cadillac of downspout extensions.

  10. Put an elbow and a drain adapter on the house end of a 4-inch (10-cm) PVC or flexible drainpipe. Connect it to the downspout, extending one or the other as needed.

  11. Insert the other end into a catch basin or surface bubbler. The bubbler's grate (green, brown or black) lies flush with the surface and allows water to spill harmlessly on the ground.

  12. Alternatively, direct the pipe into a gravel drywell (see C). Dig a hole at least 4 feet (1 m) deep, line it with landscape fabric and fill it with gravel to within 1 or 2 feet (30 to 60 cm) of the surface, embedding the pipe near the top. Cover with more fabric and then topsoil.

  13. Tip

    Downspout filters, which attach near the end of a downspout before it enters an extension, have an opening in front of an angled grate that catches leaves but allows water to run through. When sawing through a downspout, use a miter box or sandwich the downspout between two boards and use their ends to guide your saw A drywell can be as deep or wide as needed. The size primarily depends on soil porosity. You may need more or less topsoil over it, depending on landscaping requirements.


    The cut edges of metal downspouts are very sharp. Be careful when making any cuts with saws or snips, and file to remove burrs and dull the edges.