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How to bury downspouts

Water is the source of life, but when it comes to our homes, it can also be a source of destruction. Proper home drainage is more than a convenience—it’s a necessity. A well-constructed drainage system ensures that water, the persistent enemy of any structure, is correctly guided away from your home, protecting its foundation and structural integrity. From safeguarding your home’s foundation to maintaining the aesthetics of your lawn, the importance of an efficient drainage system is manifold.

However, homeowners often overlook the need for a good drainage system until faced with severe problems. Water seepage into the home can lead to damaging issues, ranging from mildew and mold growth to severe structural damage. Standing water in your yard can kill grass and plants, turn your beautiful garden into a swamp, and even pose a health risk by creating a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

A poorly constructed drainage system can also cause extensive damage to your house’s foundation, plants, and tree roots. Muddy and unsightly lawns are usually the result of poor drainage, leaving homeowners frustrated. At its worst, improper drainage can lead to foundation settling or, in extreme cases, foundation failure.

Understanding Downspout Drains

An underground pipe used to redirect the water from the roof to the buried downspouts

A downspout drain is an integral part of a home’s gutter system, designed to redirect water from the roof away from your home. A typical downspout drain includes the downspout itself (a vertical pipe attached to the gutter), an elbow at the bottom, and an extension or drain pipe that carries the water a safe distance away from the house. The downspout drain aims to protect the house’s foundation by preventing water from pooling and diverting water towards the street, a municipal storm drain, or an area of your yard that can absorb the water without harm.

However, like any home infrastructure, downspout drains can also encounter problems. Common issues include clogging due to leaves and debris, water discharge too close to the foundation, or water pooling due to improper slope. Over time, clogged downspouts can lead to gutters overflowing, potentially causing water damage to your house’s siding, foundation, and landscaping. On the other hand, downspouts discharging water too close to the foundation can saturate the soil around it, causing foundation problems, basement leaks, and mold and mildew growth.

This is where burying your downspouts becomes significant. Instead of simply allowing water to exit at the foundation level, buried downspouts—or underground drains—carry the water further away from your house. By running the downspouts underground, you can divert rainwater to a suitable exit point, preventing water from pooling around your house’s foundation and avoiding the associated problems.

Burying downspouts is a relatively simple project that can save you a lot of headaches down the line. Whether you do it yourself or hire professionals, it’s a home improvement project worth considering. But the key to successful installation lies in using the right materials and adhering to best practices for installation, which we will explore in the following sections.

Choosing the Right Pipe for Burying Downspouts Underground

Choosing the right pipe for burying your downspouts is critical to the durability and functionality of your drainage system. The type of pipe you choose can significantly influence how effectively the system manages water, its resistance to damage, and the ease of installation and maintenance.

Factors to Consider in Pipe Selection

When selecting a pipe for your downspout drain, you should consider several factors. Firstly, you need to think about the pipe’s durability and ability to withstand pressure. Rainwater can exert immense pressure on the pipes, especially in areas with heavy rainfall. So, your chosen pipe must be strong enough to endure these conditions without cracking or breaking.

Secondly, consider the pipe’s resistance to external factors such as root penetration. Trees or plants near your drainage system can often grow roots that infiltrate the pipes, causing blockages. Choosing a pipe that resists root penetration can save you from expensive and bothersome pipe repairs in the future.

Lastly, you might want to consider the pipe’s environmental impact. As more homeowners are seeking eco-friendly solutions, selecting a pipe that is recyclable or made from recycled materials could be a valuable consideration.

The Benefits of PVC Pipes

With these considerations in mind, Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) pipes emerge as a top choice for downspout drainage systems. They are designed to withstand pressure and are highly durable, making them less prone to breakage or damage. PVC pipes come in several different sizes and are malleable, making them versatile and suitable for various downspout configurations.

In terms of environmental considerations, PVC-U or unplasticized PVC is an excellent choice. PVC-U is made without any plasticizers during manufacturing, making it ideal for transporting drinking water and for use in drainage and sewer systems. PVC-U pipes are recyclable, aligning with eco-friendly practices and ensuring the longevity of your downspout drainage system with minimal environmental impact.

Step-By-Step Guide to Installing Downspout Drains

Covered pipe used for the gutter drain

Installing a downspout drain might seem like a complex task, but with the right preparation and guidance, it can be straightforward. This step-by-step guide will take you through the process to ensure a correctly installed, efficient, and long-lasting downspout drainage system.


The first stage in installing a downspout drain is planning. This involves mapping out the pathway that your downspout drain will follow. When plotting this path, the most crucial factor to consider is that it should lead water away from your house to prevent potential structural damage to the foundation. Furthermore, ensure your route is clear of any structures, large rocks, trees, or roots that could obstruct the pipe. Lastly, consider where the water will ultimately end up. You want it to disperse in an area that will not cause flooding or erosion, such as a street gutter or drainage ditch.

Choosing the Right Fittings

Equipped with your pathway plan, the next step is gathering all the necessary fittings for your downspout drain. Typical fittings include Wyes, Sweep 90s, and 45-degree fittings. Sweep 90s are perfect for use right below the downspout. They provide a smooth bend that diverts the water’s direction from vertically descending from the roof to moving horizontally underground. Using two 45-degree fittings with a 1-foot pipe section between them can be beneficial, as this setup minimizes friction during future cleaning processes. If you plan to connect two separate downspouts to a single drain line, a Wye fitting is your go-to. It allows a 45-degree connection to the main drain line.

Installation Process

Start by Digging a Trench

After your preparations are complete, you can start the actual installation process by digging a trench. This trench should start right at the downspout and follow the pathway you’ve planned. The recommended depth and width for the trench are 10 inches and 6 inches, respectively, which should comfortably accommodate a 4-inch diameter pipe. As you dig, keep an eye on the slope. It’s critical to maintain a consistent downward slope from your house to ensure gravity aids in directing the water away from your home.

Prepare the Pipe

Once your trench is ready, the next step is to measure and cut your chosen PVC pipe to fit the trench perfectly. This process may require you to use a hacksaw or a PVC cutter. Following this, use PVC cement to attach any necessary fittings to your cut pipe. Always ensure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using the PVC cement, as misuse can lead to poor bonding and potential leaks.

Laying the Pipe

With your pipe ready, it’s time to lay it in the trench. Ensure the fittings align perfectly with your downspout and the chosen discharge point. Once you’ve confirmed that the pipe and fittings are positioned correctly, secure them using PVC cement. This step is critical as it ensures your pipe remains stable and doesn’t shift over time.

Backfill the Trench

With the pipe securely in place, you can backfill the trench. Use the excavated soil to cover the pipe, compacting it firmly around the pipe to ensure it remains stable. This step helps protect your pipe from damage and also restores the appearance of your lawn or garden.

Attach the Downspout

The final step in the installation process is attaching your downspout to the newly installed pipe. Use a downspout adapter to ensure a snug, leak-free connection. It’s crucial to ensure this connection is as tight as possible to prevent any leaks, which can lead to erosion or water damage over time.

Tips and Tricks for Easy Installation

Installing a downspout drain involves more than just following the right steps. Here are some additional tips and tricks to ensure an easy and successful installation:

  • Always check with your local government or homeowners association for any codes or regulations that may apply to your project. In some areas, you may require permission or a permit to install a downspout drain.
  • Safety first! Ensure you call local utility companies to mark out any underground cables or pipes before you start digging. Hitting a gas line or electrical cable can lead to dangerous situations.
  • Consider installing a catch basin at the low point in your pipe to collect sediment and debris, preventing potential blockages. This will help ensure your downspout drain remains functional for longer.
  • Regular maintenance of your downspout drain can help ensure it continues to function correctly. This can be as simple as routinely checking and cleaning out the opening of the pipe to ensure it’s free from blockages. During heavy rain, observe the water flow from the discharge point to ensure it’s consistent and unrestricted.

Exploring Alternative Drainage Pipes

While PVC pipes are a popular choice for downspout drains, they are by no means the only option. Depending on your specific situation and requirements, other materials may serve you better. In this section, we explore some of these alternatives, highlighting their advantages and potential drawbacks.

Corrugated Drainage Pipes

Corrugated drainage pipes are a popular alternative to PVC for many homeowners. These pipes are typically made from either polyethylene or PVC and feature a unique corrugated design. This design gives the pipes an enhanced level of flexibility, making them an excellent choice for situations that require your pipe to bend around obstacles or conform to the existing landscape.

However, these pipes do have their drawbacks. The ridges on the inside of corrugated pipes can cause water to flow more slowly than it would through smooth pipes. These ridges can also trap sediment and other debris, which can lead to clogs over time. Nevertheless, the ease of installation and flexibility of these pipes make them a viable option for many homeowners.

Concrete Pipes

For those in need of a more robust and durable solution, concrete pipes are an excellent choice. These pipes are highly resistant to wear and tear and are not easily damaged by harsh environmental conditions. They also have the advantage of being heavy, which helps them stay in place once installed.

However, the benefits of concrete pipes come with a few drawbacks. They are heavier and more difficult to work with than PVC or corrugated pipes, which can make installation a challenge. Concrete pipes are also more expensive than their plastic counterparts. Despite these potential downsides, they can be an excellent choice for situations that require a hard-wearing and long-lasting solution.

Polyethylene (PE) Pipes

Polyethylene, or PE, pipes are a newer option on the market. They are made from a type of plastic that is both lightweight and highly durable. PE pipes resist cracking and can flex without breaking, making them an excellent choice for areas with heavy soil movement.

These pipes are also resistant to the chemical effects of soil and water, which can lead to corrosion in other types of pipes. Despite their many benefits, PE pipes are generally more expensive than PVC pipes, and their flexible nature can make them more challenging to install in a straight line.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, we will answer some of the most commonly asked questions regarding the installation and burying of downspout drains.

How to bury a downspout under a sidewalk?

Burying a downspout under a sidewalk requires a bit of planning and effort. Here are the steps to do it:

  1. Locate the Sidewalk Crossing: First, determine where your downspout drain will cross the sidewalk.
  2. Dig a Trench: Next, dig a trench from the downspout to the sidewalk and continue it on the other side to your chosen drainage point. The trench should be about 6 to 12 inches deep.
  3. Prepare the Pipe: Connect a 90-degree elbow to the bottom of your downspout, attach a straight pipe to the elbow, and run the pipe along the trench to the sidewalk.
  4. Drill Under the Sidewalk: Use a high-pressure nozzle on a garden hose to bore a hole under the sidewalk. Insert the hose at the sidewalk edge and work it back and forth until you’ve created a passageway for the drain pipe.
  5. Install the Pipe: Slide your PVC or corrugated pipe through the hole under the sidewalk, connect it to the downspout assembly, and run it along the trench on the other side.
  6. Backfill the Trench: Finally, fill the trench and the hole under the sidewalk with soil and compact it firmly.

How deep should I bury downspout drain lines?

Downspout drain lines should generally be buried between 6 to 12 inches deep. However, the depth can depend on the local building codes, the type of soil in your area, and the expected load on the surface. It’s best to consult with a local professional to determine the most suitable depth for your drain lines.

How to bury eavestrough downspout?

Burying an eavestrough downspout is similar to burying any other downspout.

  1. Plan Your Route: Determine where the water will be directed and mark out a path for your drain pipe.
  2. Dig a Trench: Dig a trench along your planned route, making it wide enough and deep enough for your chosen pipe. Typically, this will be about 6 to 12 inches deep.
  3. Install the Pipe: Connect a 90-degree elbow to your eavestrough downspout, attach a straight pipe to the elbow, and lay the pipe in the trench. Make sure the pipe slopes away from your home.
  4. Backfill the Trench: Once the pipe is laid, backfill the trench, making sure not to damage the pipe.

How to bury your downspout and water your plants?

You can use a rain barrel system or a rain garden to make use of the rainwater from your downspouts for watering your plants.

  1. Rain Barrel System: Install a rain barrel at the end of your downspout. Use the stored water to water your plants.
  2. Rain Garden: You can also direct your downspout towards a rain garden. A rain garden is a shallow, constructed depression planted with deep-rooted native plants and grasses. It is located in your landscape to receive runoff from hard surfaces such as a roof, a sidewalk, and a driveway. Rain gardens slow down the rush of water from these hard surfaces, hold the water for a short period while it naturally infiltrates into the ground, and cleanse the water of pollutants.

How to bury the downspout under an existing paver patio?

Burying a downspout under an existing paver patio is a delicate task and may require professional assistance. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Mark the Area: Determine where your drain pipe will go under the patio and mark out a path for it.
  2. Remove the Pavers: Carefully remove the pavers along the marked path.
  3. Dig a Trench: Dig a trench deep enough for your drain pipe and wide enough to avoid damage from the weight of the patio.
  4. Install the Pipe: Connect a 90-degree elbow to your downspout, attach a straight pipe to the elbow, and lay the pipe in the trench.
  5. Backfill the Trench: Backfill the trench carefully to avoid damaging the pipe.
  6. Replace the Pavers: Replace the pavers, making sure they are level and secure.


A well-installed and maintained downspout drain system can significantly improve the drainage around your home, prevent water damage to your property, and ensure that excess water from your gutters is carried away safely and efficiently. By understanding the different types of pipes available for downspout drains, considering your unique situation, and taking on the task with preparation, you can successfully bury your downspout drains and protect your property from water-related damage.

This guide provides a comprehensive overview and detailed steps to help you achieve just that. However, always remember that if the task seems too daunting or complex, don’t hesitate to reach out to professionals in your area for assistance. It’s always better to ensure the job is done correctly, particularly when it comes to the long-term safety and value of your property.

Last Updated on July 28, 2023

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