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What is a Rainwater Pipe?

By Harriette Halepis
Updated May 16, 2024
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A rainwater pipe, also known as a downspout, is a type of pipe that attaches to the side of a home in order to collect and disperse accumulated gutter water. Once rainwater passes through a rainwater pipe, it is either harvested, pushed towards a nearby sewer, or allowed to seep into the ground. People who decide to harvest rainwater often use this collected water for various purposes.

For centuries, harvested rainwater has been put to many different uses. It can be used to feed livestock, for irrigation purposes, or as a source of drinking water. Unique collection devices are attached to a rainwater pipe in order to gather enough water for a specific purpose. While the practice of harvesting rainwater is largely obsolete within North America, rainwater harvesting is still important in other parts of the world.

Before any water can be used for an alternate purpose, the proper type of rainwater pipe must be installed. There are various types of rainwater pipes available. Some pipes are made from cast iron or aluminum, while other pipes are made from pure metal, wood, or plastic. While metal, plastic, and wood pipes were once installed on every home, these materials are not as efficient as cast iron or aluminum.

Since cast iron and aluminum pipes can hold more water, these pipes are often ideal. Contrastingly, wooden pipes and metal pipes may warp or crack when too much water is gathered. Choosing the wrong type of pipe for any home can cause a vast amount of damage. Homes that do not have proper rainwater systems are frequently prey to water and paint damage. In fact, water damage inside of a home can usually be linked directly to faulty rainwater pipes and gutters.

No matter what kind of rainwater pipe is chosen, it is important that all pipes are installed correctly. While some pipes may be installed by a homeowner, hiring a professional contractor to install a rainwater pipe system is wise. Faulty pipes may cause a vast amount of damage that must be fixed at a later date.

To purchase any kind of rainwater pipe, begin by looking through various options at a local hardware store. Alternately, searching the Internet for a cast iron or aluminum pipe may prove to be cost-effective. Either way, make sure to measure the distance from a home's gutter to the ground. This way, any purchased pipe will effectively move any gathered rainwater away from a home.

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Discussion Comments
By blackDagger — On Aug 12, 2011

Rainwater pipes are a great way to get a little bit greener. Water is a great natural resource that we often overlook. As a result, we also often waste it without thought.

If you would like to get a little bit greener without a lot of expense or hassle, start using rainwater pipes to collect the rain at your home.

There are places across the country where this is already common practice, but in other places it’s simply unheard of.

The water that you gather from your rainwater pipes can be used to water your garden, animals, lawn or pretty much anything.

However, if you choose to drink it I would suggest purifying it first through boiling it. (Of course, don't drink it until it's cool and make sure there is no debris in it.)

It can help you and the environment all at one time!

By JessiC — On Aug 12, 2011

I was surprised to learn when I moved to the mountainous area of North Carolina a few years back that there were still people living there who did not have electricity or running water.

I was also incredibly impressed with their resourcefulness. They would collect rainwater in barrels through rainwater pipes and use this (after boiling it, of course) for many common purposes.

It was ideal for quick access, unlike wells, because it was also close to their homes. Generally, they had wells as well but the rainwater was a little easier to get their hands on.

One thing that always struck me was that the ladies in that area who used the rainwater to wash their hair had the softest and most shiny locks I’d ever seen.

By SarahSon — On Aug 11, 2011

I set up a small system to collect our rainwater. I like to keep my flower gardens watered well and this was one reason why I decided to reuse this natural source.

We also have two horses and one area that we keep them in for a few months does not have a pond or stream for them to get water. We expanded our rainwater system so it was easy to get the water we collected from the barrel to our watering tank.

It takes a little bit more effort to do this, but I feel much better about taking advantage of the rain we do get and making good use of it.

By myharley — On Aug 10, 2011

You don't think much about the importance of rainwater pipes until something happens, and you don't have them.

We have several aluminum rainwater pipes attached to the roof of our house. There have been a lot of major wind storms lately, and some of the downspouts have blown off or become damaged in the wind.

We had one area right above our basement, where the water was so heavy that it began seeping in our basement where the rainwater pipe had been blown off.

We have a finished basement that is carpeted, so this was a big motivation to get the rainwater pipes fixed right away.

By backdraft — On Aug 10, 2011

I used to live in a house that had terrible rain water drainage problems. There were thick lines where the paint had been worn away. There was also a big mold problem inside the house that was directly related to the rain water.

We had a contractor come and look at it but he said that even beyond getting better gutters and drains it would take a lot of work and money to repair all the water damage.

Luckily we were able to get out of that house without having to put too much money into it. Its the new owners problem now.

By ZsaZsa56 — On Aug 09, 2011

I have used rainwater pipes and rain barrels at a few times in the past with varying degrees of success. One time it was an absolute disaster though.

We had a big storm here that dumped a lot of rain over a long period of time. Apparently during one of the more intense parts of the storm a squirrel that was on my roof was swept into my gutter and down my rain water pipe. It ended up in the rain barrel where it frowned. The next day it got hot and stayed that way for almost a week. I didn't realize the squirrel was in there until it had decomposed significantly and fouled up all the water and the barrel as well.

It was a real ordeal getting it all cleaned out and the kind of thing I would always rather not deal with. Rain barrels can be great but they can also be a bigger pain in the neck than you would ever realize.

By jonrss — On Aug 09, 2011

I have been using rain barrels at my house for almost 20 years and I don't know why these aren't a standard feature of the American home. In the summer I am able to water my entire garden with the water I collect. I don't have to wait for it to rain or rely on the municipal water supply.

I like this for several reasons. First, I think it is a green thing to do. We all have to be more realistic about the way we use natural resources and water is no different. If there is a way to "recycle" water through rain barrels why not do it.

Second, I have an all organic garden. I don't use any pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers that are chemical based. But the municipal water supply has all kinds of chemicals in it to make it taste good and pass sanitation tests. The water that falls out of the sky is pure dehydrated water with nothing but what nature intended to be in there. I think this is better for my plants and better for my health in the long run.

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