Where to Route Water From Rain Gutters


Rainwater collecting around the foundation of a home can lead to moisture problems in the basement. When rain gutters work correctly, they collect and move rainwater away from your house. As you set up a gutter system, one of the biggest details will be where to route water from rain gutters.

Storm Sewer

  • One option for routing water away from a house is to direct downspouts down from the gutters and under the surface of the soil to connect with storm sewers. This entails installing the downspouts so they travel under the ground away from the house at a slope until they connect with the storm sewer at the street.

Surface Draining

  • Another option for routing water away from a house is to place downspouts so they reach at least six feet away from the foundation, traveling at a downward slope. The recommended slope for effective drainage is 6 inches for each 6 feet of horizontal distance from the house. Whatever the groundcover -- soil, grass or mulch -- the slope must meet the minimum and the elbow of the downspout must be above the downspout extension.

Detective Work

  • Once or twice each year, walk around your home during a hard rain to make sure the gutters and downspouts channel water away from the foundation of your home effectively. If you use a surface draining system, notice where water is dumping out of the downspouts to ensure the grading slopes away from the home and that the water is at least 6 feet away from the foundation. If downspouts empty into a storm sewer, check the ground around the area where the downspouts enter the soil. If you notice saturated ground, this may indicate a break or leak in the downspout. Check the gutters for clogs and leaks, and fix any problems promptly.


  • Clean out gutters once or twice each year, depending upon the amount of debris that collects in them. If you have a significant number of trees that litter leaves, seeds or needles into the gutters, you may have to clean your gutters more often. Clogged gutters will overflow, which will deposit rainwater too close to the foundation. Maintain the proper grading around the foundation to ensure that the downspouts deposit rainwater properly.

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