Bellingham Home Inspector (King of the House) -- Downspout Extensions

By
Home Inspector with King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. Home Inspector Lic #207

In Bellingham and Whatcom County an inspector sees more than his or her share of problems with downspouts and gutters. Gutter problems include mechanical damage, leaks, lack of slope or slope the wrong direction, fasteners that are loose and, the most common problem, gutters that are full of leaves and debris.

Once we get past the gutters, we have downspouts to deal with. Common problems include those downspouts that are loose or those that leak. Probably the most common downspout problem involves the location of the discharge point. Often they are installed to empty next to the foundation. Especially in the wet Pacific Northwest, this leads to significant water pooling next to the structure. That water will frequently end up against siding or trim, inside the basement or the crawl space. The photo below is typical of many downspout installations.

 

It is encouraging to see downspouts that empty into a properly designed drainage system. But, here in the real world,  that is often not the case.

Sometimes homeowners need to be creative and install extensions or splash blocks to route the water farther away from the structure. Extensions are often made from sections of plastic pipe or downspout material cut to size. Another simple alternative, that anyone can put in place and afford, is the splash block. These pre-made extensions are available at all home stores.  

Warning: If you use splash blocks, the downspout needs to really empty into the splash block -- not just near it. Also, the splash block needs to be really tilted downhill so water will be routed away from the house. People forget that gravity controls runoff water and, when the splash block tilts the wrong direction, the water will -- splash block or not -- end up pooling next to the foundation.

Thanks for stopping by,

Steven L. Smith

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Steven L. Smith

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Rainmaker
225,469
Suesan Jenifer Therriault
JTHIS-Professional Home Inspection Team - Blakeslee, PA
"Inspecting every purchase as if it were my own".

Good post Steve, I'm seeing a lot of flooded crawlspaces this time of the year and in many cases the downspout is discharging right on the edge of the foundation and seep back into the crawlspace.

Apr 19, 2009 05:49 PM #1
Rainmaker
1,231,471
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Suesan,

I guess that is a common problem everywhere except maybe really dry states.

Apr 19, 2009 05:53 PM #2
Rainmaker
31,426
Amy Zender
eXp Realty | Luxury Homes - Bellingham, WA
Luxe Gal

I just had to postpone a listing for this weekend's giant county-wide Open House here in B'ham due to a flooded basement because of pooling next to the foundation. It has ruined everything... the poor sellers. And I have no good words of solace. This will cost them too. Thanks for the post!

Amy's Sweet Signature

Apr 19, 2009 06:11 PM #3
Ambassador
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TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc.
Complete Home Inspections, Inc. - Brentwood, TN
Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029

Steve, good post. We see our share of missing or misaligned splash block issues in this area as well. 

Your building consultant in Nashville, TN

Apr 19, 2009 09:12 PM #4
Ambassador
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Richard Iarossi
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Crofton, MD
Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate

Steve, As an agent showing houses, if I see the small things taken care of on the outside then I know the inside will be taken care of as well. Rich

Apr 19, 2009 11:02 PM #5
Ambassador
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Rich Jacobson
The Sound Realty Team - KW West Sound - Poulsbo, WA
Your Kitsap County WA Real Estate Broker

And here all this time I thought inspectors were simply getting 'kick-backs' from the splash block manufacturers!...

Apr 20, 2009 03:34 AM #6
Rainer
113,347
Ryan Martin
Windermere Real Estate / Whatcom Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham Commercial RE Broker

So let me get this straight Steve. The water actually has to hit the splash block from the down spout for it to be effective? That is just crazy...

Apr 20, 2009 03:43 AM #7
Rainmaker
1,231,471
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Rich and Ryan,

Just goes to show that some of you realtors have a sense of humor. That is just crazy to know.

Amy,

There are some good drainage companies in this area if the problem is beyond simple homeowners repairs, such as controlling the rain water.

Apr 20, 2009 04:03 AM #8
Rainmaker
313,606
Carol Culkin
Reece & Nichols - Leawood, KS
Overland Park

Steve - It amazes me that so many homeowners don't take the measure of adding extensions to their gutters. The damage can be so significant compared to the tiny little bit of effort and expense.

Apr 20, 2009 10:31 AM #9
Rainmaker
194,265
Tony Orefice
Wilkinson and Associates/www.TonyOreficeRealtor.com - Harrisburg, NC
Realtor/Harrisburg NC,Concord NC

Hey Steve,

Around these parts, where new construction is all the rage, I knew about what you posted. The builders always put down the splash block-always!

I do have a question- one of my downspouts faces so that when the wind blows hard, it blows right into the downspout and causes a loud moaning noise. What can you recommend for me to do to alleviate this problem?

Perhaps one of those attachment that when water goes down the spout, the attachment unravels to let the water out and then ravels back up. This way, the opening is always blocked. I prefer not to put that on my house. What can you tell me?

Apr 20, 2009 01:10 PM #10
Rainmaker
899,171
Barbara S. Duncan
RE/MAX Advantage - Searcy, AR
CRS, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR

Most new construction here does not include gutters or downspouts.  I guess the builders want to save a little money by not putting them on.  Good blog.

Apr 20, 2009 01:36 PM #11
Rainmaker
179,704
Jack Gilleland
Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton - Clayton, OH

Thanks for reminding me Steve.  I have to do something with the ones in front this year.  The landscape of a home changes with time and mine has.  The front yard now drains toward the house.

Apr 21, 2009 05:35 AM #12
Rainmaker
1,231,471
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Tony,

I would never recommend one of these things to anyone, not even Nutsy's annoying wannabe rock star cousin Wheatloaf.

For one thing, they have all these holes so the water is basically still dumped by the foundation. If you are sure the problem is wind getting in it, maybe you can put in some sort of elbow arrangement to turn the opening another direction, Or, if it went into a drain pipe, that would close that off.

Apr 21, 2009 07:45 AM #13
Rainmaker
1,231,471
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Mr Tony,

The boss is a sieve brain, so he did not think to suggest one of these. These are much better than the flacid member he showed you above. Also, they make rain barrels that hook to your downspout. I often swim in those.

Nutsy

Apr 21, 2009 07:56 AM #14
Rainmaker
194,265
Tony Orefice
Wilkinson and Associates/www.TonyOreficeRealtor.com - Harrisburg, NC
Realtor/Harrisburg NC,Concord NC

Steve & Nutsy,

thanks to you both for the great suggestions!

I may attach one of those black tubes that I can bury in the garden and have the end let the water flow away fron the garden completely.

Apr 21, 2009 02:50 PM #15
Rainer
27,792
Harold Miller
Miller Home Inspection - Camano Island, WA
Everett Home Inspector

So important Steve. It is hard to comprehend the amount of water the roof system collects during a good heavy rain. And without proper discharge away from the foundation, all that water is concentrated right at the base of the structure.

Besides missing splash blocks/ extensions the other gutter drainage issue that I run across is when some one tries to install perforated underground piping. The underground part, and the piping I like, but it is the perforated part that bothers me. Those have to be tightlined.

Apr 23, 2009 03:35 AM #16
Rainmaker
174,893
Kate Kate
San Diego, CA
  • Y'all have TOO much water. You are welcome to come join us in the desert. You could leave gutters, downspouts and splashblocks behind. kate ford

 

Apr 24, 2009 03:07 PM #17
Rainer
11,412
Tad Petersen / Home Inspector, Mpls
Safeguard Home Inspections, Inc. - Watertown, MN

Extensions? "We don't need no stinkin extensions." They just get in the way when mowing.

Apr 27, 2009 06:34 AM #18
Rainer
463
Tim Spaulding
TK Home Inspections, LLC - Gloucester, VA

Here in Virginia I see many a flooded crawl space. Today's inspection had a wet crawl space caused by clogged gutters and poor site drainage. Also, the crawl space was less than 24 inches high, the lowest I;ve ever seen on a new house.

Jun 05, 2009 01:15 PM #19
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