Burying Downspouts: Your 6 Step Guide

Burying downspouts is a vital task in home maintenance, integral to protecting your home’s foundation from water damage. The process involves a detailed, 6-step guide that ensures effective water redirection. It starts with careful planning, which is essential for the success of the project. This initial step involves mapping out the downspout’s route, ensuring it channels water away from the house. This phase requires considering the overall landscape and any potential obstructions that might impede water flow.

The next step is selecting the right materials for the job. Durable materials like PVC or corrugated pipe are recommended due to their longevity and effectiveness in water transportation. The length of these materials is determined based on the planned route, ensuring the downspout can effectively cover the entire distance from the house to the designated drainage area.

The third phase involves digging the trench. This is a crucial step where precision is key. The trench must be deep enough to prevent the pipe from freezing in colder climates and wide enough to accommodate the selected pipe.

This ensures a smooth flow of water and reduces the risk of blockages. After digging, the installation of the pipe takes place. This involves careful placement of the pipe in the trench, ensuring it is well-aligned and securely attached to the downspout. The pipe should be positioned with a slight slope away from the house to facilitate proper drainage.

Finally, the system is tested for leaks to ensure its efficiency. Once confirmed, the trench is covered with soil, seamlessly integrating it into the yard’s landscape. This step not only helps in maintaining the aesthetic appeal of the property but also ensures that the buried downspout system functions effectively. By following these steps, homeowners can significantly reduce the risk of water damage to their home’s foundation, contributing to the overall longevity and integrity of their property.

Introduction to Burying Downspouts

Burying downspouts is a critical aspect of home maintenance, crucial for effective water management around your property. This introductory section explains the importance of this task and its benefits. Burying downspouts is not just about redirecting water; it’s about safeguarding your home’s foundation and enhancing your property’s overall health and aesthetics.

Importance of Proper Water Drainage

Proper water drainage is vital in maintaining the structural integrity of your home. Water accumulating around the foundation can lead to issues like basement flooding, soil erosion, and even structural damage. By effectively burying downspouts, homeowners can redirect rainwater away from their homes, minimizing these risks. This step is particularly crucial in areas prone to heavy rainfall or where homes have basements susceptible to water ingress.

Benefits of Burying Downspouts

Beyond protecting the foundation, burying downspouts offers several additional benefits. It helps maintain a cleaner and more organized yard by eliminating the need for visible downspouts that can detract from your home’s curb appeal. Moreover, it reduces the likelihood of water pooling in yard areas, which can attract pests and create muddy, unusable spaces. By implementing this system, homeowners can enjoy a neater, more functional, and safer outdoor environment.

Step 1: Planning Your Downspout Route

The first step in burying downspouts is planning the route for water drainage. This stage is pivotal in ensuring the effectiveness of the entire system. It involves a thorough assessment of your property’s landscape to identify the best path for the downspouts to ensure water is directed away from the foundation and into a suitable drainage area.

Assessing Your Landscape

Start by examining your yard’s layout. Look for natural slopes and high points that can impact water flow. The goal is to use these natural land contours to your advantage, directing water towards an area that can handle additional moisture, like a street, garden, or a specially designed rain garden. Avoid routing water towards neighboring properties or septic systems. Also, consider any underground utilities or obstacles that might affect the trenching process.

Avoiding Common Pitfalls

Many homeowners encounter issues due to improper planning. One common mistake is underestimating the length of the pipe needed, which can result in insufficient drainage. Another error is neglecting local building codes or regulations regarding water drainage. It’s essential to research and comply with these regulations to prevent legal issues and ensure your system is both effective and safe. Additionally, ensure that your plan doesn’t inadvertently direct water towards your home or your neighbor’s property, which can lead to more significant issues in the future.

Step 2: Selecting the Right Materials

Selecting appropriate materials is a crucial step in the process of burying downspouts. The right materials ensure durability, efficiency, and long-term success of the drainage system. This step involves choosing the type of pipes and other necessary components that will form the underground downspout system.

Comparing PVC and Corrugated Pipes

When selecting pipes, the two most common options are PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and corrugated pipes. PVC pipes are known for their strength, durability, and resistance to corrosion. They are ideal for areas with heavy traffic or where the pipe might be subject to pressure. On the other hand, corrugated pipes are flexible and easier to install, especially in landscapes with many curves or obstacles. They are also generally more cost-effective than PVC pipes. The choice between PVC and corrugated pipes should be based on your landscape’s specific needs, budget, and the expected volume of water flow.

Measuring for Success

Accurate measurement is key to selecting the right amount of materials. Begin by measuring the length of the planned route from the downspout to the drainage area. Add additional length to account for depth and any bends or turns in the route. It’s also important to consider the diameter of the pipes. A larger diameter can handle more water and reduce the risk of clogging, but it requires a wider trench. The chosen diameter should balance the expected water flow with the practical aspects of installation. Remember to also account for connectors, elbows, and other fittings that might be necessary to complete the installation.

Step 3: Digging the Trench

The third step in burying downspouts is digging the trench. This phase is crucial as it lays the groundwork for the entire drainage system. A well-dug trench ensures that the downspout system is effective in redirecting water away from the foundation and minimizes potential issues.

Depth and Width Requirements

The depth and width of the trench are vital for the functionality of the buried downspout. The trench should be deep enough to prevent water in the pipe from freezing, which is typically at least 12 inches below the frost line. However, depth can vary based on your geographical location and local climate. The width of the trench should accommodate the diameter of the pipe plus some extra space for easy installation and potential adjustments. Generally, a width of 6 to 8 inches is sufficient for most residential downspout systems.

Safety Considerations While Digging

Safety is paramount when digging the trench. Before beginning, it’s essential to identify and mark any underground utilities like gas, water, or electrical lines. Contacting a local utility marking service can help prevent accidental damage or dangerous situations. When digging, use appropriate tools and techniques to avoid unnecessary strain or injury. If the trench is deep, ensure it’s adequately supported to prevent collapses. Remember, for deeper or more complex trenching work, it might be wise to seek professional assistance.

Step 4: Installing the Pipe

After preparing the trench, the next critical step is installing the pipe. This stage is key to ensuring that the downspout system will effectively channel water away from your home’s foundation. Proper installation of the pipe is essential to avoid leaks and ensure long-term functionality of the drainage system.

Aligning and Securing the Pipe

Begin by carefully placing the pipe into the trench, ensuring it aligns with the planned route. The pipe should have a consistent slope away from the house, typically a drop of at least 1/4 inch per foot of pipe, to ensure gravity aids in water flow. For corrugated pipes, ensure the ridges are facing downwards to facilitate smooth water passage. Once positioned, secure the pipe to the downspout. This might require specific fittings or adapters, depending on the type of pipe and downspout you have. Ensure all connections are tight and secure to prevent leaks.

Ensuring Proper Slope for Drainage

Ensuring the correct slope is critical for effective drainage. If the slope is too steep, water may flow too quickly, eroding the soil around the pipe. If it’s too shallow, water may not flow efficiently, leading to standing water and potential blockages. Use a level during installation to check the slope. Adjustments can be made by adding or removing soil under the pipe. Once the correct slope is achieved, it’s also important to compact the soil around the pipe to prevent it from shifting over time. This step is crucial for maintaining the integrity and functionality of your buried downspout system.

Step 5: Testing the System

Once the pipe is installed, testing the system is essential to ensure it functions as intended. This step verifies that the downspout efficiently channels water through the pipe and away from the house without any leaks or blockages.

Identifying and Fixing Leaks

Begin testing by running water through the downspout into the newly installed pipe. Observe the flow of water through the system, checking for any leaks at the connections or along the pipe. If leaks are detected, it’s important to address them immediately. This may involve tightening connections, applying waterproof sealants, or adjusting the pipe’s alignment in the trench. Ensuring a leak-free system is crucial to prevent water from seeping near the foundation or eroding the soil around the pipe.

Checking for Blockages

During the test, also look for signs of blockages, which can impede water flow. Blockages are often caused by debris or incorrect pipe installation. If water seems to be backing up or flowing slowly, inspect the pipe for obstructions. It may be necessary to remove the pipe to clear any blockage. Additionally, ensure that the pipe’s slope is consistent and adequate to facilitate proper drainage. Addressing these issues promptly ensures the system operates efficiently, protecting your home from water-related damage.

Step 6: Finalizing the Installation

The final step in burying downspouts is to complete the installation by covering the trench and ensuring the system blends seamlessly with the landscape. This stage not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of your yard but also secures the functionality of the newly installed downspout system.

Covering and Landscaping the Trench

Once the downspout system is tested and confirmed to be working properly, the next task is to fill the trench. Replace the soil over the pipe, compacting it gently to eliminate air pockets and ensure stability. It’s important to restore the landscape to its original condition or take this opportunity to enhance it. Consider planting grass, adding mulch, or creating a garden bed over the buried downspout to integrate it naturally into your yard. This step not only conceals the installation but also contributes to the overall aesthetic of your outdoor space.

Maintaining Your Buried Downspouts

Maintenance is key to the long-term success of your buried downspouts. Regularly inspect the system, especially after heavy rains, to ensure it remains clear of debris and functions effectively. Check the exit point of the pipe periodically to ensure it’s not blocked and water is flowing freely. In autumn, clear leaves and debris from the gutter and downspout to prevent clogs. By maintaining your buried downspouts, you’ll ensure they continue to effectively protect your home from water damage, preserving the integrity of your foundation and the beauty of your landscape.


The conclusion of this guide serves to encapsulate the key aspects of burying downspouts and emphasizes the long-term benefits and maintenance tips for homeowners. It’s an opportunity to review the critical steps taken and to underscore the importance of each phase in ensuring a successful installation.

Review of Key Steps

Reflecting on the process, we began with planning the route for the downspouts, ensuring effective water redirection away from the home. We then selected the appropriate materials, balancing durability with practicality. The careful digging of the trench followed, prioritizing depth and safety. The installation of the pipe was a crucial step, requiring precise alignment and secure fitting. Testing the system ensured its functionality, while the final phase involved covering the trench and restoring the landscape. Each of these steps plays a vital role in creating a robust and efficient drainage system.

Long-Term Benefits and Maintenance Tips

Burying downspouts offers significant long-term benefits, including enhanced protection of your home’s foundation, improved yard aesthetics, and a reduction in water damage risks. To maintain these benefits, regular inspection and maintenance of the system are essential. This includes checking for blockages, ensuring the exit point remains clear, and monitoring for any signs of leakage. Seasonal maintenance, such as clearing gutters and downspouts of leaves and debris, is also crucial. By adhering to these maintenance tips, homeowners can enjoy the lasting advantages of their buried downspout system and maintain the structural integrity and aesthetic appeal of their property.