Rain Downspout Systems
Downspout systems drain water out of gutters and away from homes. Without a proper rain downspout system, storm water can seep into basements and crawl spaces, causing serious damage to a home's foundation.
Types of Downspout Systems
Downspouts may be as simple as a vertical downspout with a concrete or plastic splash guard at the bottom. Unfortunately, such simple downspout systems are highly ineffective. Water exiting the downspout hits the splash guard, splashes over the guard and then either seeps into the ground around the house or washes away topsoil.
More effective downspout systems continue the downspout piping at ground level, channeling the water away from the house along a horizontal pipe. The horizontal pipe may be above ground or buried. Underground piping is less noticeable, but it can be difficult to clean if downspout pipes get clogged.
Poorly thought-out downspout systems can lead to flooding or can redirect water towards a neighbor's property, so careful consideration must be given to where rain downspout systems deposit water. Some systems redirect water to areas of vegetation and double as irrigation systems. Other systems discharge water into a low-lying area for safe drainage.
Some communities specifically require rain downspout pipes to redirect water to storm sewers, so check with local authorities before installing downspouts.
Rain Barrels and Downspout Diverters
A rain barrel is a simple but effective water conservation device. Downspout systems may include one or more rain barrels that capture storm water, which can then be used to water gardens.
In wet conditions a rain barrel can overflow quickly, possibly causing foundation damage. A downspout diverter helps prevent this possibility.
At its simplest, a downspout diverter uses a manual switch to redirect water from the rain barrel back into the downspout system, and vice versa. Such systems require the homeowner to monitor the amount of water in the rain barrel and set the switch accordingly. A more complicated type of downspout diverter automatically redirects water based on whether or not the rain barrel is full.