The Do’s and Don’ts of Gutters, Downspouts and Gutter Guards


As summer draws to a close, many of us are climbing up on our roofs to clean out gutters. Taking care of this job does more than protect your gutters – your home’s #1 enemy is water, and gutters that are not working properly will compromise the structural integrity of your home and even endanger your family’s health with mold and mildew growth. Water must flow away from your house, and gutters play a vital role in that process.

  • After they collect the water runoff from the roof, gutters should carry that water at least five feet away from the foundation. This job is performed by the downspouts.
  • Keep in mind that there should be one downspout for every 40 feet of gutter.
  • Many homes, particularly newer homes, have more than just one roof. For example, there might be a roof over a garage, a roof over a second floor and smaller roofs over a porch or kitchen. A gutter trough should be installed along the edge of every roofline, with a downspout to drain away the collected water.
  • A downspout from an upper roof should drain into a lower gutter, never onto a lower roof; this will cause premature deterioration of the shingles and roof deck.
  • Professionally installed seamless gutters are well worth the investment. Do-it-yourself plastic gutters will become brittle over time and leak at the seams.
  • Aluminum is the industry standard for gutters because it does not rust like steel and is weather-resistant, unlike plastic. The thicker the gauge of the metal, the more durable the gutter will be.
  • Gutter should be clear of debris before freezing temperatures set in. When debris and water caught in the trough freezes, it can overload the gutter and cause damage.

A good way to prevent clogging is by installing a gutter guard that sits over the gutter itself. This prevents leaves and debris from accumulating, and eliminates the chore of having to clean your gutters. A quality gutter guard like Gutter Helmet® aids your gutter system in efficiently directing rainwater away, protecting your roof and home from water damage. Make your gutter system stronger and maintenance-free by calling Gutter Helmet at (866) 547-7352.

Downspouts 101: Understanding How Downspouts Work

Gutter systems operate on a basic concept of gravity and water flow, where the sloped gutter channel directs rainwater to the downspout and moves it away from the home. Understanding the purpose and importance of the downspout can ensure that you pay proper attention to this component to keep your gutter system operating at peak performance year-round.

How They Work

A downspout is a lightweight tube that extends vertically from gutter trough to the ground. While downspouts can be installed at any low point along a gutter system, they are typically placed at the end of the trough along the corners of a home. A downspout is designed to carry water that flows off the roof and into the gutters safely down and away from the foundation, where it could cause damage. It is typically made from the same material as the gutter, and in the same color, to create a uniform look. A good rule of thumb is one downspout for every 40 feet of gutter.


Most downspouts curve outward at the bottom to keep water away from the foundation. A splash block at the base of the downspout will keep the soil underneath from eroding. Another option is to install an underground drainage system that the downspout empties into to carry water far away from the house.


While it can be simple to remove clogs from gutters, clogs in a downspout can be more troublesome because they can’t be seen. Be sure to check each downspout anytime you clean out gutters. If a clog develops, rinse it out with a hose. Difficult clogs may require the downspout to be removed and disassembled.


To eliminate the threat of clogged downspouts and gutters, go with America’s #1 choice in gutter protection for more than 30 years: Gutter Helmet®. Gutter Helmet gutter protection offers clear advantages over standard gutter guards, gutter covers and gutter filters.