How Do I Keep My Buried Downspouts from Freezing?

I’m going to show you what we did to prevent freeze-up in the wintertime and answer homeowners’ question, “How do I keep buried downspouts from freezing?”


Michigan homeowners have enough to worry about in the winter, from ensuring their homes are properly insulated to maintaining their property after heavy snow. The last thing they want to worry about is how their buried downspout will handle the freezing temperatures and the water that soaks into the ground when the snow thaws. Here’s everything you need to know about building underground buried downspouts in the North where the ground freezes in the winter. 

Setting Your Buried Downspout Up to Soak Away Water

You have to be vigilant about areas that might hold water in your buried downspout system when you’re installing it in the North.

Always put knife cut corrugated pipe at the end of your system. At the end of the line, you can run as much knife cut as you want. My rule is 15 feet of solid pipe away from the house; then, you can go to knife cut. How much knife cut you want to run can depend on how well your soil percolates.

Learn More: How far should I bury downspouts from the house?

We use our High Octane Armor knife cut corrugated pipe. This pipe has slits in it which allows water at the end of the line to leech into the sub-soil after rain. So anytime it’s warm enough to thaw, you’re going to end up with ground that’ll take in water.

Knife Cut Corrugated Pipe

Keep Buried Downspout from Freezing by Venting at the House

Always vent downspouts at the house to keep buried downspouts from freezing. You can get warm water through that vent in the wintertime if you have a freeze up. Then, if you do freeze up and you have a thaw, the water will come out of these vents. It’s a great solution because you’re allowing the water to come off the roof. You don’t want the gutter trough to fill up on the roof. It’ll pull on the fascia board when it gets really heavy.

Soak Away Water with Your Inline Catch Basin

Avoid a frozen buried downspout this winter by setting up your inline catch basin to soak away water. There’s a bunch of holes drilled in the bottom of our inline catch basin that helps naturally leach water away. Next, we put fabric underneath the inline catch basin and poured pea stone around it. This will catch all the shingle gravel that comes off the roof and ends up in the line.

How Do I keep Buried Downspouts from Freezing

Since we know that an inline catch basin will hold water, we built it so that it soaks away. Creating a soak away allows the bulk water that’s left in the inline catch basin and the popup to leach out from the line. Otherwise, water will freeze up in the winter, and the system won’t flow.

Use High Quality Materials for Your Buried Downspouts

Our buried downspouts use high-quality, custom-built parts we crafted after 35 years of experience. Using the right materials and strategically installing your buried downspout can alleviate the concern about winter freeze-ups.

High Octane® 4″ Knife Cut Corrugated Pipe

Downspout soakaway kit for the north 

Inline catch basins

Pop up Emitters

Additional Tips to Prevent Downspouts from Freezing

  • When you backfill, stand on your corrugated pipe and put dirt on it. If you don’t, when you throw the dirt on, it’ll try to go underneath the line, and you’ll end up with high spots in the pipe.
  • To prevent high areas, use knife cut with fabric around it so that dirt doesn’t end up in the line.
  • Wrap drainage fabric around your popup emitter and sit it on drainage stones. This setup is going to create a really effective soak-away. So, the water left in the system after a rain event will soak away through the stone. It’s going to leach into the subsoil. Our downspout soakaway kit for the north has everything you need to achieve this.
  • Always go with a bottomless popup if you can. This way, it’s super easy to build a soak away. And if you use our popup, you can reach your hand right down and get leaves out of it. It’s a really nice setup that we put together from 35 years of experience.
  • Always use a flexible corrugated pipe to popup adapter that allows movement during freeze and thaw. Our PVC to Corrugated Coupler is made out of 100% virgin HDPE. HDPE is the strongest material on the planet, yet flexible enough for underground buried downspouts.

Keep Reading: How to size your buried downspouts

About Buried Downspout Experts, French Drain Man

French Drain Man has been the authority on buried downspouts and yard drainage systems for over 35 years. We’ve revolutionized the industry by creating robust, low-maintenance solutions to common drainage problems, like frozen downspouts. From designing your system to move water in any weather conditions to using the best custom-built drainage parts, French Drain Man ensures your roof runoff system is built to last forever.

For a yard drainage solution that lasts, call French Drain Man at 248-505-3065!