Downspout extensions connect gutters on a lot of homes and you probably never even noticed them. They have been there all along and it wasn’t until you started to consider getting them installed that you just started to notice them. That day could have even been today. Keep this in mind if you are considering having downspout extensions installed to connect upper gutters to lower gutters.
2 or 3-story homes are sometimes built with a design flaw… That’s when your Upper-Level gutters (the gutters highest on your home) empty out onto your Lower Level roof only to be recollected by the Lower Level gutters. When this happens it can cause an assortment of problems and it also adds stress to the gutter system by overwhelming the gutters. We always suggest connecting the Upper-Level gutters to the Lower Level gutters using downspout extensions in pretty much any situation.
Why Connect Upper Gutters to Lower Gutters
The idea of gutters is to collect and contain the rainwater and then re-direct it away from the home. Otherwise, the water would come off of the roof and wear a trench around the home and flood the home. Gutters collect the water from the top of the home where the downspouts carry it below. If there is a roof below and the downspout lets the water go on the roof it usually will cause problems. Especially if the upper roof is big and there is a lot of water coming down the pipe.
1. Water Damage to Roof or Shingles
One of the most important reasons to connect the gutters with downspout extensions is water damage to the roof. When all the water from the Upper roof gets collected in the gutters and comes down the downspout, it has built up a little speed and force. That water washes away shingle grit and eventually damages shingles to the point that they will curl up. Once this happens the shingles become ineffective and your roof is now vulnerable to rot, leaks, mold, moss growth, etc…
Excessive water pouring onto the roof will cut the life of your roof in half or maybe more. For example, a 30 year roof is going to be lucky to last 15 years under these conditions. Check out these example photos below of shingle damage caused by downspout run off.
2. Efficiency and Performance
Another important reason to install a gutter downspout onto lower roof, is efficiency and performance. You always want your gutter system to perform as efficiently as possible. When rain lands on your Upper Level roof, it runs down to the gutters where it is collected and channeled to where it needs to go. If that Upper Level downspout empties out onto another Lower Level roof, then the water that was already collected is released only to be recollected again. The idea here is to keep the water as contained and controlled as possible.
3. Preventing Overflowing Gutters
Gutter downspout extensions are an effective way to prevent overflowing gutters. By guiding watter from higher gutters downward, you prevent excess water buildup and avoid overflow issues.
These extensions ensure proper drainage, reduce foundation risks, and safeguard the building’s structural integrity by effectively channeling water away from upper levels and preventing potential water-related damage to the lower levels of the structure. Regular maintenance and appropriate installation are vital for optimal performance in managing rainwater and protecting the building’s lower portions.
Pros and Cons of Upper Level Downspout Extensions
- Stops water from splashing over the gutters.
- Prevents shingles from water damage.
- Keeps collected water contained.
- Keeps gutter system from becoming overwhelmed.
- Helps stop gutter overflow.
- May not look always as “aesthetically pleasing”.
- May lead to overflow if installed improperly
As you can see there really isn’t any reason not to connect the upper level gutters using downspout extensions. The photo below is a great example of how you barely notice the downspout extensions. Notice how it runs across the edge of the porch roof? I bet you wouldn’t have noticed it was there if we didn’t tell you. However it is sometimes more noticeable but we still would suggest these in every situation no matter how noticeable.
Common Issues with Gutter Downspout Extensions
1. Incorrect installation
Take a look at the above photo. Notice the downspout is positioned near the edge of that lower roof? That is a serious design flaw. Water from rain generally runs straight down the roof, so it almost never runs over the edge like in this picture. The reason it is going over the edge is because it has built up speed coming down the downspout.
In some cases, you could attach a splash guard to the gutters so that the water can’t go over. But not along the roof slope like this. There is nothing to mount the splash guard to, as the shingles hang over the edge a few inches.
The only solution here, is to extend that downspout so that it connects into the Lower Level gutter. This will prevent the water from going over the edge and washing away your foundation. When water goes over the edge, like the above picture, it not only washes away your foundation (which causes basement leaks), but it also runs down the walls.
Water running down your exterior walls can cause a whole slew of it’s own problems. Most importantly it can cause discoloration, mold, wood rot, leaks in the home, etc. Water that has come off of your roof is extremely dirty from the shingles and will stain anything it touches over time. The cost of extending the downspout is going to be much much cheaper than any of those repairs.
2. Overwhelming Water Flow
When you have an upper-level roof draining onto the lower-level roof, that lower gutter has to do double the work. It has to catch all the fresh rain that lands on the lower level roof, as well as handle all the water flow from the upper-level roof. This sometimes will cause gutters overflow. Especially at the bottom of roof valleys (the seam where 2 roof sections meet).
When this issue arises, you should install gutter splash guards.
Gutter Splash Guards are pretty self-explanatory. They are basically a small section of aluminum gutter material that is attached to the gutter, kind of like a backboard. When water tries to protrude over the gutter, it hits the splash guard and flows back into the gutter system. Some homeowners think the splash guards are more “unsightly” than the downspout extensions, so they tend to not want to use them.
You can save yourself a whole bunch of money (thousands) by installing downspout extensions that connect your gutters. Water damage is the worse kind of damage to your home there is, and the most expensive to repair. Downspout extensions are relatively cheap compared to any other solutions.
Splash guards can be installed to prevent splashing over the gutters. However, that doesn’t do anything to prevent the shingles or roof from water damage.
Besides the look, there really isn’t any reason why you wouldn’t want to connect your Upper Level and Lower Level gutters using downspout extensions.
Contact Our Gutter Technicians
My Gutter Pro
93 Monocacy Blvd. A-6
Frederick, MD 21701
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