Should water drain into the ground from a gutter?

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The downspout that attaches to the end of the gutter allows the water in the gutter to drain to the ground. The purpose of the downspout is to direct the water from the gutter away from the home.

When the downspout abruptly ends at the end of the home, the water pours too closely to the foundation, which can lead to damage. Check with your local city and county officials before installing any drain systems. Local regulations may mandate the type and location of any new drains.


The downspout can empty directly onto the ground, but must be extended with flexible black tubing or PVC pipes 3 to 4 feet from the exterior of the home. The purpose of the gutter is to remove rain water from the perimeter of the home, and downspouts that end too close to the home allow thousands of gallons of water to pour into the soil, leading to flooding or damp basements and crawl spaces. When the downspout does not properly direct the gutter away from the home, the gutter system is useless.

French Drain

A French drain is a trench filled with gravel and perforated pipe. The drain transfers the water a safe distance from the house before depositing it into the soil. Builders often install French drains around a home's exterior to prevent the groundwater from damaging the foundation. Do not connect your downspouts to these French drains. You must install a new French drain a minimum of 4 feet from the home and connect your downspout to the new drain through underground pipes.

Underground Drain

An underground drain is a series of pipes, usually PVC piping, that directs water to the location of your choice away from the home. The downspout attaches to the opening on one end of the drain, allowing water to enter the drain from the downspout. The water flows through the drains where it bubbles back to the surface through a lawn bubbler. The drains divert the water far enough from the house to prevent water damage from heavy rains.

Rain Barrel

Rain barrels collect rain water that the homeowner can then distribute through an irrigation system to the vegetation surrounding the home. Depending on the type of rain barrel, installation can be a simple or a complex procedure. Simple rain barrel collection systems simply slide under an existing downspout, requiring you to simply cut the downspout to the appropriate length. Other rain barrels require you to install additional pipes to direct the water from the downspout into the barrel.