Should You Connect Your Gutter System To A Drain?

white gutter  system on a home

Are you setting up a gutter system for your home? Are you considering connecting your gutter system to a drain?

When it comes to home maintenance and protecting your home from water damage, a professionally designed and installed irrigation system, as well as the right drainage system, is key.

One of the most common questions homeowners ask is: Should you connect your gutter system to a drain?

Should You Connect Your Gutter System To A Drain?

The answer isn’t always straightforward and depends on a variety of factors. Read on for an overview of gutter drainage, why you might want to avoid connecting your gutter system to a sewer drain, and how you can properly install different types of drainage systems around your home. By the end of this blog post, you will know if you should attach your drainage system to a drain and how to pick the right drain system for your property.

What Is Gutter Drainage?

Gutters are troughs or channels that collect rainwater from the roof of your home and direct it away from the foundation. Installing a gutter drainage system prevents water buildup around your property, which can lead to foundational issues as well as erosion problems in flower beds and gardens.

For most homes, gutters will direct water into downspouts leading away from the house and its foundation. The downspouts then connect to underground pipes that lead to an area on the property where water will slowly absorb into the ground or evaporate over time. This ensures that large amounts of water don’t pool near crucial areas like entryways or walkways where people could slip and fall. 

How Gutter Drainage Works

Gutters collect rainwater that runs along a home’s roofline and then redirect it towards downspouts at the edges of the house. Downspouts are designed to funnel water away from your home’s foundation, preventing potential flooding or damage to your property and landscape. 

Why To Not Connect A Gutter System To A Sewer Drain

Overflowing storm drain

Connecting your gutter system directly to a sewer drain might seem like an easy solution for dealing with water runoff and rainwater during storms, but it is not always recommended because it can cause several problems. In some areas of the country, it is also illegal and can result in stiff fines.

Here are four reasons to not connect a gutter system to a sewer drain.

Overflow Due To Heavy Rainfall

During heavy rainfall events, your gutter system can fill up quickly with water runoff and rainwater. If the gutter system is connected to a sewer drain, the combined volume of water may be too much for the drainage system to handle. This could result in an overflow of wastewater back into your yard or home, creating an unsanitary mess and possibly damaging your property. 


If your gutter system is connected directly to a sewer drain, leaves and debris from your roof can accumulate in the drains. This can lead to blockages over time as the debris builds up. These blockages can cause sewage backups that could overflow into your yard or home, resulting in expensive repairs and clean-up costs. 

Ecosystem Damage

Connecting a gutter system directly to a storm sewer instead of allowing it to run off into the ground can have adverse effects on local ecosystems by disrupting natural flow patterns and introducing unwanted pollutants into waterways. When large amounts of water are diverted from their natural paths into storm sewers, they can flood areas that are not designed for this kind of flow rate or volume of water which causes further damage. 

Wastewater Treatment Facilities Use More Resources

When wastewater is sent directly from gutters into storm sewers rather than flowing naturally into streams or rivers, it increases the burden on local wastewater treatment facilities by requiring them to process more water than necessary. This places additional strain on resources and costs taxpayers more money in maintenance fees and energy costs associated with processing larger volumes of wastewater than would otherwise be necessary if gutters were allowed to discharge freely into their natural pathways, such as streams or rivers, after heavy rains.  

Where Gutters Drain Water To

In most cases, rainwater will be directed into the storm drain system or discharged onto the ground away from the foundation of the home. Depending on geography and local regulations, though, there may be specific requirements for where water must be directed. 

Using Gutters To Water Natural Areas

Rainwater run-off is diverted from the gutters into an underground pipe to a small retention garden area

Using gutters to water natural areas is an incredibly smart and cost-effective way to help sustain these spaces without relying on precious resources. Not only do you save money by utilizing the pre-existing water runoff, but the process itself is fairly easy for most projects. Using gutters to funnel runoff into natural areas, such as lawns and gardens, will ensure that it remains healthy and vibrant with minimal effort or financial investment.

What Is Drainage?

Drainage is the natural or artificial removal of surface or sub-surface water from an area. The goal of drainage is to prevent flooding from accumulating in specific areas and keep them safe for living or working. Investing in proper drainage offers numerous benefits, such as preventing soil erosion and protecting the environment.

Types Of Home Drainage Systems

There are four main types of home drainage systems, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at these different types so that you can determine which one is best for your property. 

Gutters And Downspouts

One of the most common types of home drainage systems is gutters and downspouts. Gutters are installed along the edge of the roof and collect any rainwater or melting snow. The water is then funneled through downspouts to a designated spot where it can be released safely away from your house. This type of drainage system is effective for keeping water from pooling around your foundation, but it does require regular cleaning and maintenance to ensure that it works properly.

Subsurface Drainage

Also known as French drainage systems, subsurface drainage systems involve installing a network of pipes underneath the ground around your house. These pipes are designed to collect excess water and channel it away from your home using gravity flow.

This type of system requires very little maintenance once it has been installed, but it can be expensive due to the amount of digging required for installation. Subsurface drainage systems are great for properties with sloped terrain, as they allow water to run off quickly without requiring additional grading work.

Surface Drainage

Surface drainage systems involve collecting runoff on top of the soil surface and diverting it away from your house through channels or swales built into the terrain around your property. This type of system requires minimal digging, making it an economical option for many homeowners, but it does require regular upkeep, such as trimming grass or weeds near the swale or clearing debris that may have collected in the channel over time.

Slope Drainage

Slope drainage systems rely on gravity to move the water and involve grading the terrain around your property so that gravity pushes runoff into designated areas quickly instead of pooling near your house’s foundation.

Drainage: The Pros

Downspout protruding off the side of a house

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of installing a drainage system around your home.

Helps Stop Water Damages

Installing a drainage system is one of the best preventative measures you can take against water damage in and around your home. By directing runoff away from areas near your foundation, it helps keep moisture out of the walls and basement, where mold and mildew can thrive. It also reduces the risk of flooding in areas like basements or crawlspaces, which could cause thousands of dollars worth of damage. 

Slows Foundation Erosion

Another benefit of installing a drainage system is that it helps slow down foundation erosion caused by runoff from surrounding slopes or heavy rains. When too much water builds up near foundations, it can affect their structural integrity over time and make them more vulnerable to settling or shifting during extreme weather events. By redirecting excess water away from foundations with drains, you can ensure that they remain stable for years to come. 

Reduces Soil Erosion

Drainage systems don’t just protect buildings–they also protect the soil. Rainfall and runoff can carry sediment with them into rivers and streams, which can lead to soil erosion over time. Installing drainage systems on your property helps maintain healthy soil by controlling how much sediment gets washed away during storms or heavy rains. This prevents long-term degradation on your property, keeping the soil intact and safe from erosion for years to come. 

Optional Water Collection

If you live in an area with frequent droughts, consider adding rain barrels or cisterns to capture runoff from downspouts for later use on gardens or lawns instead of letting it run off into sewers or storm drains. With careful planning, you may even be able to collect enough runoff during wetter months so that you don’t need to rely on outside sources for irrigation during drier months. Collecting this water will reduce stress on local reservoirs while helping you save money on watering costs year-round. 

Drainage: The Cons

Here’s what you need to know about the cons of installing a drainage system, so you can make an informed decision about whether it’s right for you. 

Higher Expense

The first thing to consider when deciding whether installing a drainage system is worth it is the cost. While a well-installed and maintained drainage system can protect your property from costly repairs down the line, they do come with an initial expense which can be considerable depending on the size and complexity of your project. It’s important to weigh this expense against the potential damage that can occur without one. 


Another factor to consider before installing a drainage system is maintenance. Regularly maintaining your drainage system ensures that it continues working properly and keeps water flowing away from your home or business. You will need to regularly clean out debris in order to prevent clogs and backups, as well as inspect any pipes or underground channels for cracks or breaks caused by shifting ground or tree roots. 

Quick Look At How To Install Different Drainage Systems

Drainage Rock in a French drain

Ready to install your own drainage system? Let’s take a quick look at how to install French drains, gutters, downspouts, storm drains, underground pipes, and sump pumps. 

French Drains

Installing a French drain is one of the most common ways of improving drainage around a home or property. French drains involve digging trenches around the property and installing perforated pipes at the bottom of the trenches. Gravel is then added on top of the pipe before it is covered with soil. The gravel helps to move water away from the foundation of your home and into the perforated pipe.

This prevents water from pooling around your foundation, which can lead to costly foundation repairs in the future. Unless you are using a sump pump, a key thing to remember with a French drain is that it moves water via gravity, so you should make sure you have an appropriate slope in any trenches you dig. If you’d like a more detailed explanation of French drainage systems, be sure to check out our guide on how to install a French drainage system.

Gutters And Downspouts

Gutters and downspouts are often used together to help direct rainwater away from your roof and off your property. Gutters are placed along the edge of your roof and help divert water away from your roof’s edges into downspouts that run vertically along each side of your house.

The key thing to remember with gutter installation is to ensure it is securely attached to your home. Otherwise, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the particular system you purchased. When it comes to downspouts, one of the most important things to remember is to direct the outlet away from your home’s foundation, ideally towards an area that can absorb the excess water.

Storm Drains

Storm drains are used for larger-scale drainage projects as they are designed to collect and redirect large amounts of rainwater off of streets or parking lots. Storm drains usually connect directly to an underground pipe system which carries collected water away from populated areas safely without causing any flooding issues or other problems associated with large-scale storms. Installing storm drains is a major construction project that is usually handled by the local government.

Underground Pipes

Underground pipes are exactly what they sound like–subsurface lines used to move water. They can be used in smaller residential applications such as French drains and are also found in commercial applications.

The method for installing underground pipes will depend on the specific drainage system you are installing, but one thing to keep in mind is to always bury them deep enough, so they don’t get damaged.

Sump Pumps

Sump pumps are often used in combination with other drainage systems, such as French drains or gutters/downspouts. They are also often installed in basements in order to pump out any collected water before it has a chance to cause damage inside the structure itself. Sump pumps come in various sizes depending on their intended application, but all work similarly by collecting water from surrounding areas via intake pipes before pumping it out through discharge pipes.

To install a sump pump, simply dig a hole at the place where water settles. Use PVC and gravel to create a catch basin. Then assemble the pump and connect the drainage hose following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Simmons Landscape And Irrigation Are Your Drainage Experts

PVC pipeline roofing drainage downspout

So should you connect your gutter system to a drain? Generally speaking, it is not a good idea due to the reasons cited above, including causing an overflow and damaging the local ecosystem.

Do you have proper drainage set up around your home? If you’re not sure or would like help deciding the best type of drainage system or irrigation installation for your needs, fill out our contact form today. One of our expert representatives will be in touch to discuss your options and help you find a solution that works best for you. Don’t wait until it’s too late and water damage has already been done–act now and protect your property with a reliable drainage system.