Eavestroughing and Downspouts

ottawa home inspectorSummer is the time to take hold of the outdoor jobs around the home. If there is work to be done outside now is the time to dig in and get to it. A commonly over looked item in the Ottawa area is eavestroughing and downspouts. Registered home inspectors check out these items for blockages and discharge locations as well as damage. Installing and maintaining eavestroughing and downspouts is not difficult for skilled persons. As home and property inspectors we do not recommend the home owner install eavestroughing or downspouts as it entails safety items not covered in this article. However having the knowledge for what will take place for the installation or repair around your home and being able to ask the right questions will ensure you get a better product and installation.

Homes in the greater Ottawa area and eastern Ontario usually have cracks in the foundations and we at DoubleCheck Inspections find that it is common to have more than one. Through the years our registered home inspectors have found during the building inspection process that foundations have a tendency to crack at various locations and providing proper drainage away for the surface water will certainly help to keep the basement dry. The use of thermographic infrared equipment can detect leak areas in your home. A Thermal/Infrared Thermographer, Level I, can help in the detection of a water leak. Properly installed eavestroughing and downspouts should help to maintain a dry basement. It is not uncommon to find homes inspected with these missing, improperly installed or damaged.

Eavestroughing and downspouts can be made from wood, plastic, copper, galvanized steel, painted steel and aluminum. Today the most commonly installed are seamless aluminum. The eavestroughing can have a leaf protection cover which helps to block leaves from plugging the eavestroughing and downspouts. We at DoubleCheck Inspections like to see the eavestoughing installed at the bottom of all roof edges this would include upper and lower roofs. Downspout extensions should be installed to control water drainage across a lower sloped roof to protect the shingles, and into the lower eavestroughing or across the grade. Downspouts extensions should extend at least 2000mm away from all structures. Observing the discharge during a heavy rain fall is important as you should not flood the neighbour with the discharging water. Water can negatively impact deck footings and building foundation and your neighbours property.

The eavestroughing is usually affixed to the lower roof edge, (fascia) by metal clips or nails and ferrules. The downspouts are attached to the wall with screws and brackets. The bottom extension of the downspout is critical to keeping the water flowing away from the foundation and footings.

During the inspection of older areas we find eavestroughing more prone to clogging with large mature trees in the landscape. Some home inspections discover roof lines may be touching and it may not be practical to install eavestroughing. If this is the case then you need to ensure the grading is well maintained, sloping away from the foundation. If the home inspector finds there is already eavestroughing installed and there is evidence of water backing up or overflowing we suggest an oversized downspout, which should help to clear the leaves out.

Most buildings have the standard size of 25mm x 38mm downspouts installed with short extensions of about 600mm. The water will usually pool at the end of the extension where it contacts the grade and can negatively impact structures. If you were to inspect the connection of the downspout to the eavestroughing you would find a B-drop connector. The screws connecting the downspout to the B-drop are driven in through the downspout effectively producing a trap for leaves. Installing a 100mm x 38mm downspout with short screws helps to alleviate this problem. This does not sound like a very large change but it does make a good improvement and is one of the least expensive options to prevent clogging of the eavestroughing and downspouts. The other inexpensive option is extending the downspout to at least 2000mm from all structural components. This extension will help to direct the water away from structural items and help prevent water leaks into lower areas of the home.


2Ck Downspouds home inspectorLeaf protection is another way to help protect from blockage. A screen device is installed over the eavestroughing that prevents most air born material from entering. Basket strainers can be inserted into the top of the downspout inside the Eavestroughing to prevent clogging of the downspout. Basket strainers are not always suitable as the debris collected in the eavestroughing can back up at this point and the eavestroughing then overflows. However the basket strainers do keep the downspouts clear.


During the home inspection we found the lower roof edge of the upper roof without eavestroughing and the extension to the downspout discharges water beside the corner of the foundation.


As home inspectors we find small details which can make a difference. Above we can see the end cap of the plastic eavestroughing is missing allowing water to flow beside the foundation. It is common to have problems associated with plastic eavestroughing. We can also see how close the tree branches are to the eavestroughing.


The home inspector found this and questions the idea of brick splash blocks. Above the bricks are filling the hole that the water has created from the short downspout.


ottawa home inspector

Home inspectors are always pleased when they find good preventative maintenance. Above we have extension from the downspout across the shingles and into the lower eavestroughing effectively protecting the shingles from premature failure.

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