Getting rain water away from the house is a good thing

Long downspout extensions that carry rain water from the house is a good way to keep it away from your foundation.

Some people aren’t happy with the looks.  If the extension crosses over a sidewalk, it becomes a trip hazard.

Yard drains  might be an answer, if there is a low spot for the discharge. The drainpipe should slope downhill at least 1/8 in. per foot. If you had a discharge outlet 100 ft. from the inlet, it would have to be about 1 ft. lower.

To create the drain, you’ll have to dig a gradually sloping trench from the source to the outlet. Then bury a plastic catch basin at the source and connect it to the discharge with PVC drainpipe. In this system, the pipe is solid, and not perforated, so there’s no need to provide gravel for drainage along the length of the drainpipe. One advantage of a  smooth-wall pipe is that it will drain water quickly, and if it gets clogged, you can use a drain snake to clean it out.

You will need a drain pipe inlet that sits flush with the ground or sidewalk and has a grate attached. Don’t cheap out here; if you connect the downspout to the drain and the drain fills with ice, the downspout could get damaged.

Don’t direct the downspout directly into the drain pipe. Get a drain pipe inlet.

Plan on spending about $50 for an inlet

What about a “french drain”?

A French drain uses a perforated, corrugated pipe, covered with cloth and surrounded with gravel. It’s great for dealing with all kinds of drainage problems. It disperses water over a large area through a buried perforated pipe. The pipe must be surrounded by material that allows water to drain through. A French drain system can be used alone or combined with a dry well.

A properly designed French drain system does not require an outlet. The water will simply soak into the soil as it flows along the perforated pipe. In fact, a French drain doesn’t require an inlet on just one end either. You can construct the drain to accept water along its length, and disperse it underground.

I learned all this by reading an article in Handyman. You can, too!

Just click Handyman/yard.drains


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About the author

Joe has many years of experience as a Home Inspector. Joe is a proud member of ASHI, MAHI, WAHI & SAAR. He follows the Best Practices as described by the American Association of Home Inspectors and the Wisconsin Association of Home Inspectors. He is licensed in Wisconsin and is Radon Certified. Joe also complies with ASHI's Code of Ethics.


  1. Hazel Owens says:

    Thanks for the information that french drains disperses water over a large area but the pipe needs to be surrounded by material that allows for the water to drain through. My family just moved to a new house and when it rained the other day we noticed that in one area in started to flood in the backyard. I’ll have to call a professional to see if we can install a french drain pipe.

  2. I would agree that long downspouts can create an ugly look on your yard and home. This is why I would rather go with grates over these options. It seems more effective and definitely looks better.

  3. Sarah Smith says:

    My husband and I recently realized that our current drainage system is faulty and siphoning water to the foundation without dispersing it. We are probably going to have to contact a construction service to fix the drainage system as well as the foundation. Maybe while they are working, we can ask them about the French drain system you mentioned and see if it will work with our property.

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