5 Downspout Upgrades All Homeowners Should Know About

Updated: Mar. 29, 2021

Water puddling around a foundation from an ineffective downspout can create major problems, ranging from damp basements to structural damage. It’s worth finding a system that works for you. Here are the pros and cons of a variety of options.

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Vinyl Recoiling Sleeves

These install with a simple strap and automatically unfurl as they fill with water.

Pros: They move water away from the foundation by dispersing it sprinkler-style, then recoil when it stops raining. They work well when you need to move water only 3 or 4 ft. away from the house to a slope where it will then run off naturally.

Cons: You need to remove the end clip to push out built-up debris, and you should remove the entire sleeve in freezing temperatures to prevent damage.

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Flip-up/Swiveling/Telescoping Spouts

Some simply flip up and out of the way, while others telescope for extra length and swivel 180 degrees to direct water away from the building at any angle.

Pros: The open-top design makes them easy to maintain. Fully extended, some carry water up to 6 ft. away from the foundation.

Cons: The most expensive option, one vulnerable to damage in areas where there’s lots of foot traffic

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Flexible Accordion Spouts

Attaches to your downspout with two screws.

Pros: Can be easily twisted to go around corners, shrubs or other obstacles and are easily moved when mowing. Two or more segments can be snapped together, making them ideal for situations where you need to move water over longer distances.

Cons: They look a little industrial—but none of these products is going to win any beauty contests.

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A Below-Grade Extension

You’ll need a downspout adapter and end cap, some 4-in. PVC pipe and adapters.

Pros: This is especially effective when the extension needs to cross a walkway or is in a “knock-off-prone” area.

Cons: Connecting and burying everything takes more time than other methods, but it’s the most permanent solution. For this system to work, your lawn needs a little slope; make certain the pipe slants away from the house at least 1/4 in. per ft. If it clogs, clean it out with a plumbing snake.

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DIY Flip-Up Spout

Create your own by removing a 2-in. section from the top of a standard extension, then use two screws to create a “hinge” when securing it to the down-spout elbow.

Pros: When it’s time to mow, simply ip the extension up. It’s inexpensive.

Cons: They are subject to “operator malfunction”—if they’re left in the “up” position, you’ll get water around your foundation during a storm.