How to Bury a Gutter Downspout in Your Yard

Gutter Downspout

Gutter downspouts create a connection between the roof and the ground below. But sometimes, an above-ground downspout may contribute to water damage in the basement and foundation of your home. Let’s see how you can bury gutter downspouts in your yard to prevent this problem and why underground downspouts can be an effective solution for some. 

What Are Gutter Downspouts?

Gutter downspout with Creeks
Photo Credit: Field Outdoor Spaces / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Downspouts are the vertical parts of your gutter system that are attached at the end or the elbow of your gutters and run down the corners of the building. 

Rain gutters that run horizontally along the edge of your roof work together with downspouts to control roof runoff. Gutters collect rainwater cascading off your house’s roof and channel the water to downspouts. Downspouts then route the rainwater to the ground and away from the house to a designated drainage area. They serve as vital tools in the fight against water damage. Homes with gutter systems that include a downspout are less likely to get damaged or corroded. 

Why You Should Bury Downspouts?

Downspouts carry rainwater from the roof all the way down to the ground and end with an elbow that guides the water away from your house. 

But sometimes melted snow or rainwater channeled off the roof doesn’t make it far enough away from the house and ends up pooling against the foundation wall or footing. It slowly seeps into crawl spaces, the foundation, or the basement. Long-term water damage to these areas can jeopardize the structural stability of your house. It can also make your yard or garden pretty wet and muddy, which isn’t fun for anyone. 

A surefire way to prevent such water-related problems is to install underground downspouts, connect them to a series of buried drainpipes, and safely lead water far from the house

These downspouts are designed to filter debris and leaves from the roof before it enters the ground. They end several feet away from your home’s foundation and essentially give you the power to choose which part of your landscape receives rainwater. 

Pros and Cons of Buried Downspouts

Here are some advantages and disadvantages of burying the downspouts in your yard:

Pros

  • Aesthetics: Buried downspouts preserve your home’s outer beauty. 
  • Great for high-risk homes: If your house is exposed to lots of rain or snow, it’s a high-risk home. Above-ground downspouts cannot effectively handle excess runoff from rain or snow, while underground ones work with solutions like sump pumps, French drains, hydrophobic insulation, and sealants to manage overflow.
  • Safety: Downspouts opening up in your yard can pose a risk of injury to children or pets. Stumbling on a downspout is a fair possibility that can easily be avoided with buried downspouts.
  • Health benefits: Water pools and organic matter do not make a good combination. Moisture and stagnant water create an ideal nesting site for mosquitoes and other insects. Buried downspouts will save your yard from water pools, mud, and tons of pesky insects. 

Cons

  • Tricky maintenance: Because they’re underground and not easily accessible, downspouts can be challenging to maintain.
  • Freezing: Underground downspouts are prone to freezing. And when they freeze, they’re susceptible to ruptures and leaks. 

How to Bury a Gutter Downspout – A Step-by-step Guide

Photo Credit: Will478 / Shutterstock

Before you get your hands dirty, here’s a list of things you will need to bury a gutter downspout in your yard:

Tools: 

  • Shovel
  • Drill
  • Razor blade
  • tarp/bucket/box to collect dirt
  • Level 2×4

Supplies: 

  • PVC pipe, couplings, elbows
  • PVC cement
  • PVC primer and glue
  • Downspout connector
  • Downspout drain pipe (5-10 feet)

Step 1: Check Regulations

Some countries don’t allow stormwater drainage into yards. You should contact your local building department to learn about the stormwater regulations in your area. 

Step 2: Lay Out Your Plan Around Cables and Pipes

Knowing where your gas, water, and electricity lines are buried will help you avoid costly repairs if you accidentally cut or damage one. Before you dig, get to know about the pipes and cables for water, gas, and electricity supply from the respective companies or departments. 

Once you know where the pipes and cables are, you can go ahead and figure out where you can put your drain line safely.

Step 3: Dig!

After you’ve planned the location of your drain pipes, dig a trench along the entire route. This trench should be approximately 12-14 inches deep. However, deeper is generally better. Burying the pipes 18 inches deep will ensure they’re below the frost line. As for the width, leave at least four inches on either side of the pipe. 

Make sure the trench slopes down and away from the house so water flows freely. Use a level to ensure your slope runs away from the structure and creates a drop of ⅛ inch per foot. This slope will keep the pipe trench shallow at the beginning and deeper at the end. Dig the trench 5 to 10 feet from the house, or as far as you want. 

Step 4: Dismantle the Old Downspout and Connect the New Extension

Use a drill to remove the screws from the old gutter spout and the angle connector. Detach them. Attach your downspout extension and connector with PVC cement, waterproof tape, or screws, and place them at the bottom of your gutter downspout. 

Your new downspout extension needs to be flexible, long-lasting, and made out of strong, durable PVC. Make sure that the downspout extension is set on a slight downward slope to prevent water from backing up. Attach the drain pipe to it with the PVC cement and let it dry. 

Step 5: Adjust the Downspout Into the Trench

Push the downspout into the trench and use a razor blade to cut it at the required length. 

You may also place some type of emitter at this step to make sure that you have access to the pipe at a later date for cleaning purposes. 

Step 6: Fill the Trench

After laying the pipe, refill up the trench with soil. If you were collecting the soil or sod in a bucket, or tarp, it would be easy to simply dump them in or re-sod at this stage. But you can always use shovels to do so. And now you have a nice new downspout to drain excess rainwater away from your house. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Buried Downspouts

Can a Buried Downspout Get Clogged?

If leaves, pine needles or other debris makes their way to the drain pipe and the water flow is slow, then yes, an underground downspout may get clogged. 

How Far Should Underground Downspouts Extend From the House?

It’s recommended to extend the downspouts 5-10 feet away from the foundation. 

Need Help?

If you feel underqualified to DIY your gutter downspout burying project, it’s okay. Call in a professional to lend you a hand and suggest the right supplies and procedures for perfect results. 

Main Image Credit: Aunt Spray / Shutterstock

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Farah Nauman

Farah Nauman is a freelance writer and an accountant based in Pakistan. She spends most of her time combating the South Asian heat and being a mom to her three fluffy cats and a dozen little Aloe Veras in her house.