What Is The Difference Between a Downspout and a Gutter?

house with tan aluminum gutters

Being knowledgeable of your home’s roofing system is essential. You need to be aware of how things work so you can spot problems that may occur with your roof. One of the main mix-ups homeowners tend to have is determining the difference between a downspout and a gutter. It’s common that the two are confused with one another. If you ever find yourself in a situation to explain your roofing system over the phone, you need to know what you’re talking about.

Gutter vs. Downspout 

Both gutters and downspouts are a part of your home’s draining system. They work together to prevent any water damage to your home’s foundation, roof, and walls. However, they serve different functions regarding your drainage system.


Gutters are the channels that run horizontally to the edge of your roof. They collect water and runoff and direct it to the downspouts, to discharge it away from the home. 

The primary function of gutters is to prevent rainwater from running down the sides of a house and causing damage to the walls and foundation. Without gutters, rainwater would pour off the roof and pool around the foundation, leading to water damage, mold growth, and other costly repairs. Gutters also help prevent soil erosion around the house, leading to an unstable foundation and basement walls.

One of the essential aspects of gutters is their slope, which must be sufficient to allow water to flow toward downspouts. If the slope is too steep, water will move too quickly, leading to overflow or damage. Too shallow and water will pool in the gutters, leading to leaks or rust. 


Downspouts are the part of the draining system that runs vertically. They play a crucial role in directing rainwater away from your home’s foundation. If water pools around the foundation, it can cause damage to the structure and lead to mold growth. 

Along with guiding water away from your home, downspouts are also responsible for carrying water away from landscaping, patios, and other outdoor areas that could be damaged by excess moisture. 

Gutter and Downspout Maintenance

Gutter and downspout maintenance are critical to keeping your home’s drainage system functioning correctly. Here are some essential tips for maintaining your gutters and downspouts:

1. Clean your gutters and downspouts regularly 

Leaves, twigs, and other debris can accumulate in your gutters and downspouts, leading to clogs that prevent water from draining correctly. Clean your gutters at least twice a year or more often if you live in an area with heavy rainfall or surrounded by trees.

2. Check for damage 

Look for any signs of damage, such as cracks, holes, or rust. Damaged gutters and downspouts can lead to leaks, which can cause water damage to your home’s interior and exterior. If you notice any damage, repair or replace the affected section immediately.

3. Ensure proper slope

Ensure that your gutters have the right slope to allow water to flow toward the downspouts. If they are not sloped correctly, water can pool in the gutters, leading to leaks and rust.

4. Trim nearby trees

Trim any trees or bushes near your gutters and downspouts to prevent leaves and debris from falling into them. This will reduce the amount of maintenance required and prevent clogs.

5. Check your downspouts

Ensure that your downspouts are attached securely to the gutters and are directed away from your home’s foundation. Make sure there are no clogs in the downspouts and water is flowing freely away from your home.

Regular maintenance of your gutters and downspouts is essential to protect your home from water damage. By following these tips, you can ensure that your home’s drainage system is functioning correctly and prevent costly repairs in the future.

Need To Involve The Experts?

The team at All Craftsmen Exteriors specializes in roofing systems. We offer total replacement, repairs, maintenance, and inspection requests to aid you in any roofing needs you may have. Contact us today for a free estimate on any drainage or roofing projects you have in mind!