freezing underground downspout

Old 03-09-15, 09:17 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: United States
Posts: 1
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
freezing underground downspout

All the downspouts on my house lead to underground downspout extender that then pops back up from the ground a few feet away. I like in norther illinois and none of the underground extended a deep enough to avoid the frost line. So they all have ice and have froze. With the warmer weather the snow is melting off of the roof, only to get stuck in the frozen pipes. My neighbors also have this problem. How can I solve this?
Old 03-09-15, 08:08 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Jersey
Posts: 62,087
Received 3,422 Upvotes on 3,068 Posts
Welcome to the forums.

I run into the same problem every year. Other than disconnecting the downspout from the underground line there isn't much you can do. You can't stop the line from freezing underground.
Old 03-10-15, 03:11 AM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: New England
Posts: 9,457
Received 47 Upvotes on 43 Posts
Ya, bad design.
For this spring, PJ's suggestion is about all you can do. Even if you manages to melt out all of the existing ice, the pipes are still passing through frozen ground and would most likely re-freeze until the ground thaws.

Water from the roof or direct rain needs a surface solution along with drainage. Most homes here in Maine have discovered that gutters and leaders don't survive the melt and ice from the roof anyway, so most just slope the land well away from the house. Your landscaping may require another solution, like a seepage pit well away from the house, keeping all pipes below the frost line.

Another factor for the pipes freezing is the melting snow from heat in the attic producing a trickle of water when it is below freezing out.

Old 03-10-15, 07:06 AM
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: MI
Posts: 2,357
Upvotes: 0
Received 1 Upvote on 1 Post
I've only seen trenches and french drain pits on that certain DIY show out of Boston ;-)
No doubt that's the Best Practice but around here it seems we all just deal with the few days of water bubbling out of the collar the downspout fits into.
Old 03-10-15, 07:13 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 5,651
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
I usually disconnect my underground discharge and dump it on the ground away from the house. If we have an early snow cover, I continue to use underground since the snow does a good job of keeping it flowing. - I have about 30' of pvc to my side-hill discharge and not the corrugated black plastic that never seems to as carry as much water. - By dumb luck, this year, I did not use the underground and we did not have more than about 6" of snow cover, so the frost went deep.

Old 03-10-15, 07:27 AM
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: U.S.A.
Posts: 1,902
Received 73 Upvotes on 66 Posts
The downspouts on my shop and about half of the house have simple extensions onto the lawn, and the other half of the house is as Dick described, buried 4" pvc that discharges downhill about 20-30 feet from the house. All is well for about 50 weeks of the year. The remaining two weeks, when the snow on the roof starts to melt, and the discharge is covered with whatever snow we have that year, about 12-18" this time around, the buried discharge freezes and backs up. So I disconnect the downspouts from the buried pipe and slip on an extension that dumps the water onto the yard. Not as pleasing to the eye, and couldn't mow around them, but I will remove them in another week or two and reconnect to the buried line.
Old 04-07-15, 09:20 AM
redgar99's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 24
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
I've read that "hard piping" the downspouts into the underground pipes is a no-no for this reason. Instead, the best practice would be to have the downspouts discharge into a grate-covered catch box/catch basin at the ground level, which then feeds the pipes. I intend to do this upgrade this year.

downspout catch basin - Bing Images
Old 04-07-15, 01:22 PM
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 397
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
I don't see how that solution is much better. A decent snowfall will cover that spout and will still become a pillar of ice. When the sun does thaw the pipe, the grate will still most likely be frozen and the water can find a way into the house.

My solution this upcoming year, since I had to deal with snow-buried (frozen) downspouts is to cut the downspouts off three feet above ground level and replace as normal for most of the year. Once the snow falls, I'll remove the lower three-foot section and run the extension from that three-foot point out above the snow (adjusting as needed after (during) each blizzard).

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Your question will be posted in: