What You Need To Know About Gutter And House Drainage Distances: Seven Useful Options

What You Need To Know About Gutter And House Drainage Distances: Seven Useful Options

Anthony Barnes

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Here are some options and a complete guide about the gutter and house drainage distances

Ensuring that your gutter can drain water yet keep the water away from your home is crucial.

If the distance is not far enough, you could have water soaking through the walls or foundations.

It may not seem that important but exposure to water can result in structural damage and even fungal growth under your home which can be expensive to sort out. 

In this guide, we will look at the importance of the distance between your gutter and home drainage, the options you have to ensure a worthwhile distance, where the downspout should drain, and how to calculate the gutter size.

Why The Distance Between Your Gutter And House Drainage Is Important

A gutter should drain water a fair distance away, typically four to six feet, but as much as ten feet away can be ideal.

The gutter should be firmly connected to the eave of the roof and, ideally, each downspout will drain a maximum of 35 feet of the gutter. 

While the following options could prove useful, you should also check the drainage system for debris regularly.

This is ideal to create a sloped surface so the rainwater will run where you want it to without any obstructions. 

The gutters should end up connecting to the downspout which is a pipe that hangs on the side of your house to drain the rainwater away.

If the distance between your home and the downspout is not sufficiently extended far enough then there is the possibility of water soaking through the walls which could be a real issue if you have a basement. 

You may need the downspout installed in intervals as large as 20 to 40 feet to drain the rainwater away from your home. 

The downspout needs a landing area that is sloped to properly drain the rainwater away.

That discharge area should force the rainwater to land a suitable distance away from your home and the recommended slope drop should be around six inches for every six feet.

That should prove simple to remember but is a crucial factor. Should the slope result in draining in the opposite direction then the rainwater would get to your home which is the last thing you want. 

Seven Useful Options For Ensuring An Appropriate Distance

Calculating the correct gutter size is one thing to consider, but there are several useful options for making sure that the distance away from your home is just right.

That means finding a method to redirect or collect the rainwater from your gutter far enough so it does not affect your home. 

Splash Blocks

A splash block can be an effective way to make sure that the water keeps a fair distance away from your home.

They are simple to use and you only need to place them underneath the downspout and then tilt them away from your home. 

With the right tilt in the right position, the splash block will help the rainwater to be efficiently funneled away from your home.

They could be moved by extreme weather conditions, in which case building permanent splash blocks is a good idea. 

Downspout Pipes

A downspout pipe can be added which can help move the rainwater along your driveway and even as far as the backyard.

These do not funnel the rainwater away as much as place it further away from your home. You may want to consult a construction expert to get the job done properly. 

Downspout Extensions

A downspout extension connects to your downspout via elbows which can be plastic or metal.

These will collect the debris that is carried by the rainwater by their ridges as that debris can clog the runaway so should be cleaned quite often. 

You may want to reinforce your foundation with gravel or rocks to make sure that soil erosion does not occur.

An extension made from aluminum should help and they can be simply bought at a local hardware store. 

Stealth Flow Downspout Connector

Should you have a backyard that has mulch or landscaping then a stealth flow downspout connector can be installed.

This is a plastic connector that can be laid relatively low and remain discreet in your backyard.

This connector will attach to the drainpipe via the downspout and you have to look hard to even see it, all while looking after the foundations of your home. 

A Buried Drainpipe

One way to make sure that the drainpipe effectively diverts the water away from your home is to bury it.

If you are going to install a new drainpipe then you can dig a trench across your yard (see also ‘What Is A Swale Drain For Yards And Should You Get One?‘) and then place the drainpipe in it.

Sounds simple enough and is pretty much a foolproof way of ensuring that you know where the rainwater will end up. 

Rain Gardens

The place you decide to bury your drainpipe could work out in ensuring that you can look after your yard (see also ‘Why Is Water Coming Out Of The Ground In My Yard?‘).

One such place is the rain gardens which act as a terminating point and are ideal with a steeper slope. 

While rainwater is typically allowed to gather and then gradually take its time to penetrate the ground, if you direct the drainpipe and bury it in the rain gardens then the water effectively soaks into the soil and can assist with plant growth.  

Storm Drain

The storm drain should drain into the driveway though during a heavy downpour it may not prove ideal.

Especially when you consider that the drain could lead onto the sidewalk which could be an area of high foot traffic. 

Simply tie the downspout along with an existing storm drain to direct the drainage to the sidewalk as long as you are confident it will not cause a problem for pedestrians. 

Where Should The Downspout Drain?

What You Need To Know About Gutter And House Drainage Distances: Seven Useful Options

Once you have achieved the right mechanism to direct the rainwater where you want it to go, you should not have to worry about how much rain comes down.

You may not be able to control the volume of rain, but you can make sure it lands in the rain gardens or on your driveway relatively effectively.

There are other places it could land too that could prove as effective. 

Rainwater Collection System

This is a relatively straightforward collection system, as the name suggests. You place sizable tanks underground which collect the rainwater.

These tanks use a pump to channel the rainwater to certain areas you want after it has passed through the downspouts and gutters. 

If you want an irrigation or water management system for your home’s garden then this can work well as part of a landscaping design.

When you do decide on this option, it is best to consult with a landscaping professional. 

Rain Barrel

While not as helpful as the rainwater collection system, a rain barrel is so easy to set up.

The rain barrel can hold around 30 to 100 gallons of rainwater and maintenance can be easy as you can use the contents to nourish your plants. 

Simply place the rain barrel near the downspouts and over time it should fill up to allow you to use the water when and how you want to. 

Drainage Pit

A drainage pit is another way to look after the rainwater without it damaging the foundations of your home. These are also known as drainage wells, soakaway wells, and dry wells.

All you need to do is dig a sizable hole that is around three feet long, high, and wide.

Drop some gravel into the pit to fill it then fix the draining pipe that will bring in your rainwater. 

The drainage pit can be a simple DIY task while still performing an admirable job as long as it is over ten feet away from the wall.

Make sure that the drainage pit is over the water ground level and you could adjust the dimensions to ensure that the pit could house larger volumes of water.

Finally, local authorities may need to be checked so you avoid breaking a law by excavating such a large pit. 

How To Calculate Your Gutter Size

Your gutter should be depended upon to collect the rain and not have you worry about it, especially during a heavy storm.

That means finding the right size and judging whether you need to go a bit larger just in case.

Typically, both six-inch half-rounds and five-inch K-style gutters are the go-to choices for a lot of homes.

However, if the area you reside in can expect heavy downpours or your home has a large and steep roof then you should consider wider gutters and more downspouts to prevent the rainwater from overflowing your drainage system.

Calculating the right size of gutters you require does involve a couple of measurements. First, work out the square footage of the drainage area for your gutters.

A straightforward gable-end roof will need two measurements, to take into account both slopes. That can be relatively easy to do as you can simply measure both slopes.

However, a hip roof or an intersecting roof will have several facets so that can become a bit more complicated.

You will need to add the area of each surface (its length times its width) within the drainage area to work out the total square footage.

The more facets, the more calculations you will need to work out.

The Roof-Pitch Factor

With the total square footage of your drainage area noted down, you will have to adjust for a couple of factors.

The first is known as the Roof-Pitch Factor which essentially means that a steeper roof can collect more windblown rain.

Measuring the pitch requires a two-foot level and a tape measure, hold an end of the level onto the roof then level it out. 

Next, measure the distance between the underside of the level at its center point and the roof which should give you a 12-inch run.

The crucial factor is the gap, a gap totaling four inches will be known as a 4-in-12 pitch. A roof pitch can range from flat to 12-in-12 but a pitch between 4 and 5-in-12 has a roof-pitch factor of 1.05. 

The Maximum Rainfall Intensity

The second factor to consider is the maximum rainfall intensity which is relatively straightforward to find out.

The US Weather Bureau takes a record of the maximum rainfall for various regions which is measured in a five-minute period for inches per hour. 

Obviously, the larger the rainfall, the bigger the gutter will need to be to prevent it from being overwhelmed.

You may even want to overcompensate the size for the maximum rainfall intensity just in case.

Sizing Up Your Gutters

With the roof-pitch factor and maximum rainfall intensity noted down, you can multiply the two together to work out the adjusted square footage of your drainage area.

With that information, you can find out what size gutters you need. 

Let’s say that a home has an actual drainage area of 1,000 square feet and a 4-in-12 pitch factor which works out at 1.05. Times the 1.05 by the 1,000 equals 1,050 square feet. 

The 1,050 can then be multiplied by the maximum rainfall intensity of the region which could be 6 inches per hour, which would yield adjusted square footage of 6,300 square feet. 

Some 6-inch K-Style gutters should be able to deal with that adjusted square footage.

However, if the total area measured in square feet was less than 5,520 square feet then 5-inch K-Style gutters would work well.  

Consider Extra Capacity

If the runoff exceeds that of standard 5 or 6-inch K-Style gutters then there are further options to consider.

You could get 7 or 8-inch gutters which will cost increasingly more and require a bespoke order and installation.

Another idea is to increase the pitch of the gutter; only a quarter-inch every ten feet could increase its capacity, though the gutter can look askew. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Should The Gutter Downspouts Be Placed?

Ideally, a downspout should be placed along the gutter every 20 to 40 linear feet. This distance should ensure sufficient drainage to prevent the gutters from overflowing during heavy rain. 

What Different Materials Can Gutters Be Made From?

Several materials can be used to create gutters. One of the most popular materials is vinyl as it can prove exceedingly cheap and relatively simple to install.

Copper can also look good while wood is also aesthetically pleasing but both of these materials are expensive. Then there is stainless steel and aluminum to consider. 

Final Thoughts

Ensuring an appropriate distance for the rainwater to land away from your home is essential to protect your foundations.

There are several options including downspout extensions, storm blocks, downspout pipes, a stealth flow downspout connector, or a buried drainpipe.

The locations where your rainwater can land can also be beneficial such as watering your garden or collecting in a rain barrel so you can design what to do with it.

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By Anthony Barnes

Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age