4 Alternatives to Downspouts

Lead Image for 4 Alternatives to Downspouts
  • 4-12 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 20-400

If you have lost patience with your battered, bent gutter downspout popping loose from the gutters during rainstorms or freezing solid with ice in winter, consider instead these four alternatives. Rain barrels, underground dry wells, rain chains, and copper piping add charm to your decor while helping keep your basement dry and leak-free.

1. Rain Barrels

Capture and recycle seasonal rainfall with rain barrels. Place one at each corner of your roof or in your backyard to catch rain runoff. You can then use this fresh, naturally soft water to quench the thirst of your lawn and garden all summer. Many rain barrels, made of fade-resistant polyethylene, hold from 40 to over 200 gallons of water. Rain barrels will help you save money by reducing your municipal water use for lawn and garden care. Choose one that has a water spigot to release just the amount of water you need.

2. Underground Drywells

Rather than have rain from your gutters splashing all over your driveway, direct the runoff below ground to a dry well. Connect a 4-inch drainpipe to your gutters, and run this pipe underground to the dry well. The dry well should have a capacity of 60 or more gallons. Add the second section of pipe out the far side of the dry well, sloping it upward to the level of your lawn, and cap it with a drainage cap. This will prevent the well from bursting during a sudden heavy rainfall. Water seeping out from the dry well will keep your lawn and garden healthy during summer dry spells.

3. Rain Chains

Instead of a clunky aluminum pipe, let a rain chain dangle from your eave gutters. Rain chains, generally made of copper, are 8 feet in length, so the bottom cup hangs just above the ground. The series of cups decreases the speed at which water reaches the ground, meaning that water pressure runoff will no longer form potholes in your lawn or driveway.

Various types of rain chains channel runoff differently. Some act like vertical fountains where the smallest cup at the top overflows into the next which is slightly larger, all the way down the chain to the ground. Others are shaped like funnels, with the largest at the top and smallest at the bottom.

Many rain chains also activate chimes down their center, providing a soft musical tinkling as the rainwater flows through them. Consider adding a rain chain to your garden to encourage small birds to drink there on days with light to moderate rainfall. Note: All rain chains need to be secured to the ground or to a planter at the bottom.

4. Copper Piping

Accent the elegance of your home with copper piping. You can run these pipes along a flower bed, around the house into the back yard or down the edge of the driveway. Choose an anodized finish that will not rust or natural copper that will take on the classic blue-green patina on the surface as it ages. In your garden, attach a birdbath to the downspouts to encourage tiny birds to visit.