How Can Gutters and Downspouts Keep My Basement Dry?

Gutters and downspouts play an important role in keeping your basement dry.  Properly functioning gutters and downspouts direct large amounts of rainfall from your roof away from your home’s foundation and your basement.

Common problems of gutters and downspouts that can contribute to water in your basement are:

  • Broken, separated, or missing gutters

  • Clogged gutters

  • Downspouts without extensions

  • Faulty storm sewer connections

  • Gutters or downspout extensions sloped backward

Why Should I Disconnect My Downspout?

During heavy rain, every downspout on your home can send 12 gallons of water a minute to the sewer system, which increases the risk of basement backups and sewer overflows. Disconnect and help keep excess water out of sanitary sewers. Disconnect your downspout and 

Connect your disconnected downspout to a rain garden. Rain Gardens can be placed near downspouts on homes (although away from building foundations and sewer laterals) and should be slightly depressed to hold and infiltrate stormwater runoff. 

incorrect downspout placement

Little or no downspout extension can cause pooling.

correct way to put downspout into your lawn

Downspout extension at an appropriate distance.


Maintenance of Your Gutters and Downspouts to Prevent Flooding 

  • Clean gutters and downspouts three times per year (spring/fall/winter) to remove debris.
  • Verify pitch (slope) of gutters is running to the downspout.
  • Install downspout extensions (6-10 feet) away from your home.
  • Ensure the extension pipe is sloped so flow is not restricted (water runs downhill).
  • If the storm sewer connection is failed, consult a contractor to identify the problem.  You may also disconnect your downspout completely and run the discharge pipe away from your home.


  • Dig out and clear the snow from the downspout discharge location.  Connect the downspout extensions and ensure a clear path for the discharge for the water to flow away from your house.  
  • Your gutters are likely full of snow and ice. There isn’t much you can do about this, but ensure the water has a path once they thaw out.
  • Test your sump pump and if you have a backwater valve to make sure it is functioning properly.
  • If you’re prone to flooding a wet basement, elevate valuable items from your basement floor with shelves or store items in waterproof totes. 
  • Check that your street storm drains are clear and not buried under snowdrifts.
  • If you see water backing up from the floor drain or plumbing fixtures, stop using all water immediately. Check to see if your neighbors are having similar problems. If they are, call your municipality. If not, call a plumber.

Spring and Fall

  • Check that your gutters and downspouts are clean (no clogs), not broken, bent, separated, or hanging loose.
  • Disconnecting your downspout that is directly connected to the sanitary sewer lateral will reduce the risk of basement backups by keeping water from your rooftop away from your foundation and out of the sewer system. Run your downspouts 6 to 10 ft. away from your foundation onto your lawn or into a rain garden.
clogged gutters

Clogged Gutters