What Is a Downspout Adapter?

Written by chasity goddard
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What Is a Downspout Adapter?
Downspouts that end prematurely near the home's foundation can cause water to pool and damage the home. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Gutter systems collect the sheet of rainwater that a building's roof displaces. The water from the gutter flows toward and falls through the opening above the downspout. Water rushes into the downspout and exits the gutter system. Building owners have many options for this exiting water, but the goal is to move the water far enough from the building to prevent damage to the building's foundation. In most situations, the water must enter the ground at least a few feet from the building to prevent damage. To achieve this relocation of the water, many gutter systems empty into underground drains.

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Manufacturer's mass produce downspout adaptors in white and black, but adaptors are available that match common gutter colours. One end of the adaptor is usually smaller than the other, and each end may have different shapes to accommodate the structures and pipes that they are meant to connect to. Some are flexible, allowing the installer to slightly adjust their shape or size, but many are hard and fixed requiring precise measurements. Downspout adaptors are small pieces that are generally 3 to 4 inches wide and usually not longer than 4 or 5 inches. They are connector pieces within the gutter system.


Downspout adaptors are either offset or straight. An offset adaptor has a bend that allows the installer to connect a straight downspout to a pipe that is not in line with the drain. A straight adaptor connects a downspout to a pipe in a straight line. A reducer downspout adaptor, which is larger on one end than the other, connects the larger downspout pipe to a smaller-size drain pipe. Downspout adaptors are made from PVC pipe, flexible black pipe or downspout material.


Downspout adaptors allow an installer to connect the downspout to an underground drain system or a rain barrel. Since the pipes necessary to accomplish the functions of these different structures are different sizes and shapes, the adaptor makes the connection possible. Without a downspout adaptor, an installer cannot connect a 3X4 downspout pipe to a three-inch drain pipe.


A downspout adaptor slips onto the end of the downspout to change the size and shape of the end of the downspout. The adaptor may attach to the downspout itself or to an elbow on the end of the downspout, depending on the needs of the installer. When attaching a PVC adaptor or attaching an adaptor to a PVC pipe, glue is necessary to secure the connection. When attaching black pipe, installers often use stitch screws to hold the adaptor in place.

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