Downspouts emptying on lower roof.

I did a warranty inspection on a big house in a development. Many instances of downspouts from upper dormer gutters emptying directly onto the lower roof. Also, a gutter in a dormer that had no downspout but had the back end (towards the roof surface) open and the water just flows out the back and onto the lower roof.

I called these out and the owner sent the report to the builder (Toll Brothers). The response from the builder reads “The gutters were installed per industry standard. No action to be taken.”

Does anyone know a web site or document that would prove these guys wrong?


I don’t think they are wrong. I see this all the time and I never call it. I expect it shortens the life of the shingles that get the drainage, but the only option I see is to install an ugly, expanded downspout system and I think people would rather go for the asthetics and replace some shingles sooner. -Kent

I’m with Kent.

I usually let my clients know the disadvantages from this type of practice with the following statement:

** One or more downspouts terminate above roof surfaces rather than being routed to gutters below or to the ground level. This is very common, but it can reduce the life of roof surface materials below due to large amounts of water frequently flowing over the roof surface. Granules typically are washed off of composition shingles as a result, and leaks may occur. Recommend considering having a qualified contractor install extensions as necessary so downspouts don’t terminate above roof surfaces.**

Not necessarily that it is wrong, but that they may want to consider that it be changed.

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I’m glad I don’t see much of it here… :slight_smile:

I see this all the time and call it out as wrong and detremintal to the roof, as well as the lack of gutting above a lower roof plane. When I was a remodeling contractor I did a lot of work with an architect group, they were addimint about routing the down spout so they were not dumping on the roof and they still looked good. There may also be a roofing warranty issue if one were to look. I my opinion there is just no reason for it givin the damage it can cause.

See it up here all the time. It is a better building practice to provide the downspouts. It is not a building code requirement up here either.

I don’t think they are wrong either, as far as it being an industry standard. However, codes are an industry standard, and we all know that codes are the minimum, right? And that some professionals use industry standards as the minimum and then (1) stick with those minimums or (2) go above and byond the minimums.

So I do call it out since, as you stated, it “shortens the life of the shingles.” That is a maintenance concern, and my home inspections point out maintenance concerns. Informed by knowledge, my Clients can then make their own decisions as to whether or not they would rather “install an ugly, expanded downspout system” or “go for the asthetics and replace some shingles sooner.”

Dan’s got a really nice paragraph, even nicer than mine. :frowning: I’m going to start using Dan’s, if he’ll let me.

Great writing.


Whether ‘right’ or wrong, I certainly have enough photos that illustrate why it shouldn’t be done. I’m sure you do as well. Share em’.

If that is industry standards, then maybe they should be responsible for coming back and doing the repairs to those roof areas 5 years before the rest of the roof needs replacement.

On a more realistic life note, i always recommend the elbows and extensions on every home where they are not present. There are often some case studies within sight of the home being inspected to show them examples.

Adam, A Plus

Thanks Russel.
Please feel free to use. Thats what we are all here for…to help each other.:slight_smile:

It may be acceptable but unfortunately I almost always find this adjacent to an area of the roof or dormers that is poorly flashed or not flashed at all. As others have said, the damage often shows up years earlier than should be reasonably expected. I love it whenever someone tells me or ask me if “it meets code”. I will often tell them “Would you want your surgeon to work to the absolute minimum allowable standards?”

I wish oh I wish…someone would compile all these great “paragraphs” and put them on a sticky thread!!

Homegauge forum has a thread just for this…

Wonder who could do this?

I see it all the time here too when I do new construction or 1 yr warranty inspections. I even saw it on a $1.2 mil (this is DFW not CA so it was a very large custom home) home that had fancy copper gutters. I include it in the report with a paragraph similar to above and I tell the owner that all the builders do it but if they press, they just may get it fixed. Some builders have made mods to fix it others say no way.

Each time I find good paragraphs, I save them immediately to my Interactive Report System (IRS) folder and then incorporate them as time permits. If anyone would like a copy of my IRS, email me (be forwarned that my employees require a donation of $10 to the office margarita fund for taking time out to create the disks and mail them).

Ultimately, over at, I’m considering such a repository as soon as I get the various search functions set up. A lot of people are putting the search function through its paces and things are looking real good judging from the feedback. Thanks to all who are helping me.

Wow, I am late on this. By a few years…

Yes, downspouts discharging onto lower shingle roofs is bad. I think I saw other posts with photos of the damage that is caused over time.

In addition, it absolutely deviates from the Code requirements. Where does it say that you ask?

If you all remember, every version of the Code requires that all materials and equipment be installed in accordance with the product manufacturer’s installation instructions. Go read or call and ask if the shingle manufacturer is OK with gutters discharging onto a lower shingle roof. Not sure who made the shingles, try any of the large national manufacturer’s. they all same the exact same thing.

They are not OK with it. Leaks caused by gutters eroding through the shingles are not covered by the shingle manufacturer’s warranty. It does not void the warranty for the whole roof, just for that specific condition.

Ask the Builder to show you where it says in the shingle or gutter manufacturer’s installation guide that it is OK to dump directly onto a shingle surface? Call the gutter manufacturer, and get their opinion. Ask for a detail on how to extend the downspout to the lower gutter… call the project designer and ask him if he wanted it that way. Lots of times the gutter installation is not detailed on the drawings and it is left up to the Builder, who leaves it up to the gutter guy who does it the way his Boss taught him to do it, who never read the code or an installation manual in his life…

I see this all the time (even by large national Builders on new construction). I call it out as wrong all the time, because it is not in accordance with the shingle or gutter manufacturer’s directions. They fix it all the time, because the Code supports the manufacturer’s opinion on how to do it right, and you can’t argue with the Code.

I highly recommend that Inspectors educate themselves on the product installation instructions for about everything we see in a house, because no one else reads those things… They are easy to pull up on-line as your write up your report. either that or stop saying you inspected it. If you don’t know exactly how a product is supposed to be installed, how can you say it is OK or not.

We can’t know everything, but we need to know a little more…

Good luck out there!

Great post, Bob!

Here’s a Tech Advisory from one mfg

See it all the time. I use a similar narrative, but like yours better. Can I use yours?

Excellent. I would think that should be all that Will needs. :slight_smile: