It’s important to clean your guttering regularly and keep it free of debris. But what about the drainage system? What happens if water can’t get through the downpipe because it is clogged? If you have just moved into a new house or are having your guttering replaced, you may want to think about how the rainwater reaches the drain. Poor planning and blockages can be a real nuisance and cost you a fortune to fix so making sure that your downpipe is connected to the drain properly is important. This article will show you how to connect your guttering downpipe to the drain, in order for water to reach the drain freely and save you time and money in the future.
What is a Guttering System?
A guttering system is a water management device that collects and drains rainwater from the roof of residential or commercial buildings, diverting it away from walls and windows where it can cause damage. Guttering systems were traditionally made of metals such as lead and cast iron but nowadays houses and commercial properties are now fitted with plastic guttering.
The roof has a sloped surface, known as the ‘fall’ – this helps rainwater to flow off at an angle and into gutters that channel the water in one direction to the downpipe. At ground level, the downpipe usually has an outlet that is either connected to the storm drain or in more rural areas, drains into a natural watercourse known as a soakaway.
Why do You Want Your Downpipe to go into a Drain?
Many people will find that the bottom of their downpipe ends with a small open-ended elbow near a drain where the water can flow. The problem that some people have with this is that it often doesn’t look particularly good, and they would prefer if the downpipe went directly into a drain. Having your downpipe go directly to the drain is possible however you will need to install some kind of filtration system to remove any dirt or debris that is likely to be carried by the water. Without a filtration system, you are leaving the drains at your property at serious risk of blocking which can cause the drains to back up.
Note: Without removing the debris – it is not a matter of if your drains block but when!
How to Connect the Downpipe to the Drain
There are various ways that you connect your downpipe to the drain and the varying types of debris filters are extremely easy to install.
Step 1 – Positioning and Measurement
Before you begin, ensure that the downpipe is correctly aligned directly above the drain’s location. If the downpipe isn’t yet fixed in place, hold it up to the side of the building, ensuring it runs vertically straight from the gutter above to the drain below. Use a measuring tape to get an accurate measurement of the distance between the guttering system and the drain. This measurement will help you determine the length of the downpipe you’ll need and also let you know if you need to make any amendments such as where to stop-end the guttering or if you need any offset bends.
Mark the point where the downpipe will meet the drain, ensuring you have a visual endpoint for your installation.
Step 2 – Prepare the Drain Connector
Now, you’ll want to attach a suitable drain connector to the bottom of your downpipe. This connector, sometimes referred to as a drain adaptor or shoe, is designed to channel water effectively into the drain without splashing.
Ensure the connector is compatible with both your downpipe’s diameter and the drain opening.
Step 3 – Secure the Downpipe
Once you’ve attached the drain connector, it’s time to secure the downpipe against the wall. This is usually done using brackets spaced at regular intervals. Fix the brackets onto the wall using suitable wall plugs and screws.
As you position the downpipe, ensure it fits snugly into each bracket, maintaining its vertical alignment. Tighten or clip each bracket around the pipe to hold it securely in place.
Step 4 – Connect to the Drain
With the downpipe securely fastened, guide its end (or the attached drain connector) directly into the drain’s opening. It’s important to ensure a direct and unobstructed path for the water to flow from the pipe into the drain.
There shouldn’t be any significant gaps or misalignments at this junction.
Step 5 – Test the Flow
To be certain that everything is in order, conduct a flow test. Pour some water into the gutter (a watering can or hose will work) and observe the flow.
The water should seamlessly flow down the downpipe and into the drain without any leakages or obstructions.
3 Best Debris Filters for Guttering
If you are wondering how to keep debris from going into the drain or ending up in your water butt, there are 3 extremely popular types of debris filters that many people opt for, and they are gutter guards (sometimes known as balloons), self-cleaning leaf traps and the gutter mate rainwater diverter. All of them do an excellent job of keeping leaf litter and debris from entering the drain system to prevent blockages although I do not use gutter guard balloons as they cannot be installed and cleaned at ground level.
Gutter Guards (Balloons)
Gutter guards (Amazon link – opens in a new tab) can be made of either wire mesh (usually aluminium) or plastic and they sit at the top of the downpipe. Their mesh design allows the water to flow freely whilst preventing any unwanted dirt and debris from going down the downpipe and into the drain. Gutter guards can be a good and inexpensive solution for those easy-to-reach gutters but for those gutters on the roof of your house and for those people that live in areas with a lot of trees, I would advise against them.
The reason I would advise against them is that they do an effective job at preventing the crud from entering the downpipe – this means that all of the crud just builds up in the gutter instead which will then need regular cleaning which is less than ideal.
I much prefer to let the water along with gravity do its job and bring the rubbish down to me and have my filter closer to the ground.
The Gutter Mate (Amazon link – opens in a new tab) is a great way of keeping the rainwater clean and free of leaves, stones and moss as it enters the drain system, but it also has another great feature in that it diverts the filtered water to a water butt.
When installed correctly, the diverter will fill a water butt up to the desired fill level and then once the water butt is full, any excess water that comes down will automatically continue on its path towards the drain.
Installation is extremely easy and can be done in around 20 minutes. The great thing is that you can reach the filter from the ground meaning that it is also easy to clean.
Unless you live in the concrete jungle of the city, I recommend that everyone gets a gutter mate along with a water butt which can be used for plants during the drier months (if we get any).
We have written an article about what to do if you need to remove or replace your rainwater diverter.
Self-Cleaning Leaf Trap
The self-cleaning leaf trap is probably my least favourite and if the reason you want the downpipe going into the ground is for aesthetics, you probably won’t like this one either. Although they do work, these filters are not particularly nice to look at they can be a little noisy. They are basically a section of downpipe that has a section cut out at the front with an angled grill to prevent any unwanted rubbish from hitting the drain.
The leaf trap can be installed at ground level making it easy to maintain and the ‘self-cleaning’ part is a little bit of a false selling point as although it does self-clean, it does so by expelling any leaves, moss, and everything else out onto the floor below (not ideal if you are trying to keep a tidy garden/ patio).
If you want to connect your downpipe to your drain, you can do so without any real hassle as long as you install some kind of filter. Without the filter, you are sitting on a blockage time bomb, and it won’t be long before you need a plumber to come out and clean up the mess. We certainly recommend the gutter mate filter and diverter paired with a water butt as the best option for most homes as it is easy to install, easy to clean and works perfectly whilst recycling rainwater for your garden. Other means do work such as gutter guards although instead of blocking your drains, they just end up blocking your guttering meaning that it will need cleaning more often – not a job for anyone no good with heights.
Note: Gardening expert Trevor has written an article about what to do if your water butt is overflowing.
Plumbing Wizard Tips
“Do not install the downpipe directly into the ground with some sort of debris filter!”
“The gutter mate will not only save your drains, but it will save money on watering the garden too!”
“If you are looking for a cheap and cheerful solution and do not mind regularly cleaning the gutter – get the gutter guards!”
“If you are looking to keep your garden clean and tidy, stay away from the self-cleaning leaf filter as they just clean the dirt they catch right onto the floor!”
Frequently Asked Questions
Does a downpipe need a drain?
A downpipe will either lead towards a drain or a soakaway which is effectively a natural way of draining water away from your property. Without a drain or soakaway, any rainwater that collects at the bottom of the downpipe will just sit in a pool until it evaporates.
Do gutter downspout guards work?
Essentially yes, downspout guards, gutter guards, or whatever you want to call them are extremely good at preventing leaves, moss, and other debris from going down your downpipe. The problem with these guards is that the debris they prevent from entering the pipe sits in the gutter meaning that the gutter needs regular cleaning.
What are downpipes connected to?
At the top, downpipes are connected to your guttering system to collect rainwater that lands on your roof. At the bottom, the downpipe will either lead directly into a drain or soakaway or it will be open-ended to allow the water to flow to a nearby drain.
What material is best for guttering systems?
While plastic is a common material for modern guttering due to its low cost and ease of installation, metal guttering, like cast iron or aluminium, can offer durability and a classic aesthetic appeal.
How often should I clean my guttering and downpipe system?
It’s advisable to inspect and clean your guttering system at least twice a year, preferably in the spring and autumn, to ensure optimal performance and prevent blockages.
Can I install a guttering system by myself?
While it’s possible for a DIY enthusiast to install guttering, it might be best to consult or hire a professional to ensure it’s set up correctly, especially considering the dangers of working at height and the importance of proper water drainage for home maintenance.
What is the primary function of a soakaway?
A soakaway allows rainwater to slowly seep into the ground, preventing flooding and water pooling around your property.
How deep should a soakaway be?
Typically, a soakaway should be at least 1.5 meters deep but can vary based on the soil type and the volume of water expected.
Why is rainwater drainage essential for home maintenance?
Proper drainage prevents water damage to your property’s foundation, walls, and landscape. It also helps prevent mould growth, which can have health implications for the property’s occupants.
Are there signs that my downpipe or drain might be blocked?
Overflowing gutters, water pooling at the base of the downpipe, or a gurgling sound from the drains can indicate a blockage in your system.
How can I prevent blockages in my downpipe and drain?
Regular maintenance, using gutter guards, and ensuring your downpipes have a debris filter can all help prevent blockages.
What is the average lifespan of a guttering system?
While plastic guttering can last around 10-20 years, metal systems, especially those made of cast iron or aluminium, can last upwards of 50 years with proper care.
Is it essential to have a gradient or ‘fall’ in my guttering system?
Yes, having a slight slope ensures that rainwater flows towards the downpipe, preventing stagnation and potential blockage or overflow.
How to unblock guttering downpipe?
The safest way to clear a blocked downpipe is to detach the pipe from the wall and flush the downpipe with water using a hose. Once you’ve cleared the obstruction, reattach the downpipe securely.
Lee Pearce is not just a master plumber; he’s a veritable Plumbing Wizard. With over 30 years of experience in the trenches of pipes and drains, Lee has become the go-to sage for DIY plumbing, saving homeowners thousands in potential call-out charges. As the founder of Plumbing Wizard, he’s dedicated to demystifying the complexities of home plumbing, offering easy-to-follow advice that stands the test of time and pressure. His online blog is a treasure trove of tips, tricks, and tutorials that empower everyday individuals to take charge of their home’s plumbing health. Lee’s practical wisdom is not just about fixing leaks; it’s about imparting confidence and self-reliance. When he’s not writing or elbow-deep in a plumbing project, Lee is passionate about educating the next generation of DIYers, ensuring that practical skills are passed down and preserved.