Your home’s downspouts and gutters are responsible for directing the heavy flow of rainwater from the roof to the ground. They’re essential in protecting your foundation, basement, and landscape from water damage.
However, clogged debris, snow, and other external factors can impair your home’s drainage system over time. These elements can cause a strain on your gutters and downspouts, causing them to wear out, detach, or malfunction.
In this guide, we’ll examine the potential reasons why your downspout keeps falling off. We’ll also discuss several quick and simple ways how to resolve the issue, so let’s begin!
Here are the most common reasons behind dropping downspouts:
Instead of protecting your house from the elements, shortcuts and mistakes during installation leave it vulnerable to water damage. Misaligned or incorrectly attached gutters and downspouts are ineffective at draining water from your roof and may fall off at any time.
For instance, the incorrect positioning of downspouts could lead to pooling water in the middle of gutters. The excess weight of the accumulated water then causes the entire drainage system, including the downspouts, to lean away from the house.
Another common mistake that homeowners or inexperienced installers make is not installing enough downspouts. This leads to the overflowing of rainwater, which then causes strain on the existing downspouts, causing them to fall off.
Proper installation of gutters and downspouts will vary depending on the overhang and structural components of your roof. You also need to account for other factors, such as roof area, roof angle, and the average amount of rainfall in your area.
One way to test the installation of your system is to spray your roof with a garden hose and observe the flow of water. Then, consider whether the size, slope, amount, placement, and attachment of your downspouts need an adjustment.
Check to see if your downspouts attach snugly against the wall with reliable fasteners, nails, screws, and downspout bands or straps. Generally, a home should have one downspout for every 20 feet of guttering, with one downspout strap every three feet.
Here are additional things to observe to ensure the correct installation of downspouts:
- Straps should be near the seams or pipe ends to prevent dislocation
- There must be a minimum of two fasteners or screws in each connection
- Ensure that the lower piece of the downspout is larger than the upper one to avoid leaks
- The upper downspout section must be tucked into the lower section
If your gutters and downspouts seem to be properly installed, the next thing to check for would be clogged debris. Stuck leaves, twigs, bird’s nests, and dirt can fill your drainage system with standing water, causing your downspouts to misalign, loosen, and eventually fall off.
This is usually the case for houses near trees and often happens during the autumn months. Clogging can occur on any part of the system, from the center of gutters to the bottom of downspouts.
Downspout elbows and incorrectly sloping gutters are particularly prone to blockage. What’s more, old roofs made from asphalt tend to shed granules, which can clog your downspouts as well.
The first step in fixing a clogged gutter or downspout is to locate the source of the blockage. Use a sturdy ladder to find the clog and remove it using a garden trowel, hose, or power washer.
For more serious clogs, you can disassemble the downspout elbows and clean the parts individually. Another option would be to use a plumber’s snake to pull out the debris.
To prevent this issue from happening again, try to maintain your gutters and downspouts regularly. Do a thorough inspection and cleaning of your drainage system at least twice a year during the spring and fall.
Additionally, consider pruning trees that are close to your home. Other optional solutions include installing gutter guards or upgrading to larger downspouts to reduce the risk of clogging.
Some drainage systems come with downspouts that are pre-installed in the gutter. Others involve gutters that open into flaps with downspouts attached using screws.
Unfortunately, the screws in these systems may come loose and cause the downspouts to fall off. Likewise, the straps securing the downspouts to the side of the house may also give way.
This can happen due to the following:
- Substandard materials
- Bad weather conditions
- Unnecessary strain due to overflow
- Poorly maintained roof and drainage system
To remedy the situation, use a screwdriver or hammer to tighten the screws and nails on the gutters and downspouts. Replace any missing or rusty nails and screws, and seal holes and cracks using a gutter repair kit.
To improve your system, consider installing a downspout drop outlet into your gutter. This will prevent needless strain on the gutter and downspout by ensuring the correct flow of water from the roof to the ground.
Seal the outlet properly using gutter sealant and use high-quality screws to lock it into place. Next, connect the downspout to the outlet in at least two areas, and secure the downspout with sturdy straps.
If your downspout frequently falls off during winter but stays put during the rest of the year, accumulated ice may be the culprit behind this condition.
Heavy snowfall or ice can obstruct your gutters and downspouts, causing rainwater to pool and freeze inside. The weight of the standing and frozen water eventually causes your downspout to collapse.
Consider the following options to resolve this issue:
- Conduct pre-winter downspout inspections to remove obstructions
- Sign up for gutter and downspout maintenance services during the winter
- Install heated gutter systems to prevent ice buildup
- Attach a hose to a hot water tap to thaw ice in the downspout
- Use a rake and not a hammer to gently scrape ice out of gutters and the roof
Exposure to extreme weather conditions, including sweltering heat and freezing cold, can cause your downspouts to wear out quickly. Fluctuating temperatures also cause them to expend, contract, and possibly become warped in time.
Factors such as the quality of materials, climate, and frequency of maintenance have an effect on how your downspouts age as well. Weak, worn-out, and rusty downspouts lose their stability and may detach from the house.
Large dents, overflows, and serious drips are other indicators that you might need to replace your gutters and downspouts.
To avoid the risk of water damage, immediately replace any old or worn-out gutters and downspouts in your home. Hire a reputable contractor to do the job, and use high-quality materials made from steel or aluminum for maximum durability.
Additionally, see to it that your new gutters and downspouts are properly installed, and maintain them consistently to prolong their lifespan.
Gutters and downspouts are seldom the focal points of a house. They’re often neglected and forgotten about, causing cumulative damage to the home’s foundation and structure over time.
In this guide, we’ve listed potential causes and solutions to consider when your downspout keeps falling off. At first glance, a detached downspout might seem harmless, but it can cause serious water damage if not promptly addressed.
Don’t forget to use high-quality materials and seek help from professionals when making repairs and replacements to your drainage system. What’s more, remember that regular clean-ups and maintenance can go a long way in ensuring that your downspouts perform well and last long.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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