What are the Different Types of Downspout Accessories?

T. L. Childree

Most ordinary downspouts can be modified to perform certain special functions through the use of different types of downspout accessories. These easy to install downspout accessories can help utilize rainwater for lawns, gardens, storage, or other purposes. The most commonly used downspout accessories are known by names such as flex elbow, splash block, rain barrel, downspout rain drain, and gutter wedge.

A home's downspout diverts water away from the gutter system.
A home's downspout diverts water away from the gutter system.

A flex elbow is typically used to join a downspout to a gutter, although it may also be utilized to redirect the downspout towards other accessories such as rain barrels or rain drains. These downspout accessories have the ability to retain their shape once they are bent and are often used to avoid obstacles may lie in the path of the downspout. Multiple flex elbows are sometimes used with a single downspout.

Gutter wedges prevent the debris that gets lodged in gutters from making its way into downspouts.
Gutter wedges prevent the debris that gets lodged in gutters from making its way into downspouts.

Splash blocks are often installed in place of a flex elbow to safely direct rainwater away from a building’s foundation. When used together with an ordinary downspout, a splash block acts as a type of ramp to help channel running water out onto the lawn. This type of accessory can often prevent a home’s foundation from being undermined by rainwater runoff.

A rain barrel can often be installed directly beneath a downspout to collect rainwater for future use. When it rains, the rain barrel is filled with water, which can later be used, for lawns and gardens. Rain barrels usually have some type some type of overflow prevention mechanism to dispose of excess water. Filters are sometimes attached to the end of the downspout to prevent debris from accumulating in the rain barrel.

A downspout rain drain is basically a flattened hose, which has many small holes in it. This hose can be attached to the downspout and laid across a garden or lawn. As the hose fills with water it becomes a type of sprinkler for plants and grass. Since downspout rain drains lie flat during dry weather, they can usually be left in place during mowing.

Gutter wedges are drain filters that are typically installed near the mouth of a downspout. Gutters often become filled with twigs, leaves, and other kinds of debris, which can potentially block the entrance to the downspout and inhibit proper drainage. A gutter wedge will usually prevent this type of problem from occurring. These downspout accessories are wedge shaped and have openings on all sides to allow water to flow through them from any direction.

Open gutters can become clogged by snow which can prevent downsprouts from functioning properly.
Open gutters can become clogged by snow which can prevent downsprouts from functioning properly.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


The old downspouts that the rain runs into right at the edge off the roof? What is that called?


@titans62 - I don't know exactly what the name of them is, but they make downspout screens that cover the whole gutter and would probably solve your problem. They are basically a grate that fits over the gutter and lets water in while making everything else just blow off the house. They are fairly inexpensive, too. They usually come in 2 or 3 foot sections that cost a couple dollars each.

You will still need to do normal gutter maintenance, though. Over the course of the year, you'll still end up with a few small things getting through the holes as well as dust from the shingles that will all need cleaned out.


@Emilski - Rain barrels have really advanced as more people have started to use them. The ones now often come with some type of hose attachment that can be used to carry water anywhere in the yard. Some of them just rely on gravity and water pressure, but a lot of them have hand pumps to create pressure. I don't know if you would be able to get water pressure for a sprinkler or not. If you search online, you might be able to find a lot more detailed information about reusing rainwater.

Does anyone know of any other gutter accessories that will stop leaves and other stuff from clogging up the downspout drainage? I have a gutter wedge, but during the fall, we have so many of the little maple helicopter seeds that they get into the gutter and don't let enough water through. I am always afraid that the extra water in the gutter will make it come down one of these days. Does anyone have any suggestions?


Do all of these accessories come for plastic as well as aluminum gutters? We used to have aluminum gutters, but they took them down when they were reshingling the roof. We would like to replace them with plastic.

We live in the south, too, so we are trying to find better ways to be more water efficient. Does anyone here have experience with rain barrels? It doesn't seem like it would be that hard to set one up. I am mainly just wondering how you would utilize the water from it. It would be easy to dip a water bucket or watering can into the bucket, but I am wondering if there would be some way to use the water on the lawn. Does anyone know?


Besides the rain barrel, we have at least one of each of these things at work on our downspouts. I didn't realize all the things had they names they did, though.

On one side of the house, we just have a splash block to move water away. Like the article says, these are really important, otherwise you can end up with huge puddles that form next to your house and can cause problems. A friend of mine had a concrete splash block that was gotten old and started to crumble and stop working. Because he didn't replace it, the water started pooling and he ended up having to have part of his foundation replaced.

My definite favorite accessory is the drain rain as the article calls it. We have one of these that runs from the downspout right through the flower garden and keeps me from having to water as often. You have to be careful, though, if you are getting a lot of rain on a regular basis. You might need to move the thing out of the flowers or they'll end up with too much water.

Post your comments
Forgot password?