How to Install Downspout Drains

Do you have water problems in your basement or crawl space? There are a few things you can do yourself to improve the water issue in your basement. You can Install a French Drain which can improve or eliminate the water intrusion. You can also Install Window Wells which will help improve water intrusion issues around and under the windows in your basement.

A third option is to Install Downspout Drains for all your downspouts. I have written article on all of these water intrusion fixes. You can do all of these three options yourself, I also suggest you do all three at the same time, so you will only have to dig once.

Installing Down Spout Drains will move the water far away from your foundation. If you have water or moisture issues in your basement or foundation you will want to get all the water as far away from the foundation as you can. Therefore, I suggest you do all three projects at the same time.

Installing Downspout Drains is simpler and a little less involved then installing French Drains. If all you need or want to do is the downspout drains it should go rather quickly. I do suggest getting someone to help you with the digging and it will also be nice to have someone help hold the one hundred foot long drain pipe when you measure, cut and install it.

Skill – Beginner

Time – 4 to 8 Hours

Cost – $50 to $100

Tools and Materials Needed

Drain Pipe

Couplings and Fittings (If Needed)



Trench Digger (Optional)

Axe (Helpful with roots)


  1. Determine Where the Down Spout Drain Will Start and End

This is very important to do before you run to the store and buy everything you need. You will need to find where all your downspouts are located and then determine the best route to send the pipe.

You will need the pipe to slope about one quarter inch per foot. Best case scenario would be to find a route that is already sloped downhill. You won’t have to dig as deep this way.

  1. Dig Trench

Dig Trench for French Drain

You can do this by hand like I did, or you can rent a trench digger. I suggest renting a trench digger as it will speed up the process considerably. You will need to make sure you have the whole route of the trench planned and enough drain pipe for the whole route.

  1. Slope Trench Downhill

Slope Trench

The best way to make sure you are routing the water away from your home is to use a level. I only had a two-foot level handy, so I used a 4×4 to help determine the slope of the trench. You could use a four-foot level and you would be ok.

  1. Measure Trench

You will need to determine the amount of drain pipe you will need. I bought the one hundred foot section of pipe because it was the most economical way to purchase what I needed.

Measure the length of the trench and also enough to travel up the foundation to reach the end of the downspout. I also suggest cutting the pipe little longer then you need and trimming it later, I cut mine about one foot longer then I thought I needed but I only had to trim off about eight inches.

  1. Lay Drain Pipe in Trench

Downspout Drain

After you measure and cut your drain pipe you can lay it into the trench. Double check to see that the pipe is long enough before you move forward.

You must also check the pipe for proper slope. Put your level on the top of the pipe and follow it from the beginning of the pipe (by the downspout) to the end. Make sure it is sloped away for the home towards the end of the drain pipe.

  1. Attach the Drain Pipe to the Downspout

You can either use the downspout adapter on the end of the pipe or just slide the pipe over the downspout. Eight way is just fine.

  1. Backfill with Topsoil

Backfill Downspout Drain

You may not need to buy any extra topsoil if you are just installing the downspout drains. If you are installing French Drains as well then you should have a couple yards of topsoil delivered to the job site. This will allow you to get the proper slope away from the foundation when you backfill the French drain.

When backfilling, make sure the pipe if laying in the trench properly and also make sure you don’t disconnect the downspout from the pipe.

  1. Install Drain Cover on End of Pipe

Drain Cap

The Drain Cover is optional, but I wanted to make sure that I didn’t have anything getting in the pipe and plugging it up. Again, its not necessary but it only costs $2.84 at Home Depot, so why not.

I installed the Downspout Drains, French Drains and Window Wells all at the same time. Doing this took me about sixteen hours of work by myself. If I had asked a buddy to help me, we probably could have finished it in about eight to ten hours. I also dug everything by hand, using a trench digger would greatly speed things up.

Good Luck with your project! Don’t forget to check out my other articles, “How to Install French Drains” and “How to Install Window Wells”.

If you have any questions leave a comment bellow or send me an email.

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