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How to Install a Downspout Adapter and When to Use One

Updated: Apr 26

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What is a Downspout Adapter?

Downspout adapters are used to change the shape of the downspout where it attaches to another pipe. Most of the downspouts you see in a residential community are going to be rectangular. In some instances you may also see some round downspouts. Round downspouts are less likely to need an adapter because most of the pipes you attach to are round.

When Do You Need a Downspout Adapter?

A downspout adapter is required when you are hooking up an underground drain system to a downspout or when you are adding a downspout extension. Whatever material you are using to extend the downspout needs to be compatible with whatever it is being connected to. Purchasing the right size pipe will make this process easier and there are also adjustable adapters to help with the connection.

How to Install a Downspout Adapter

Typically, a downspout adapter is installed right at the bottom of the downspout before the extension or the underground drain system. This can get difficult if the system has already been installed. The adapter simply slips over the end of the downspout.

Improper Installation Can Restrict Water Flow

Improper installation can restrict water flow. It is common to see installations done where the section downstream will be inserted inside the upstream section causing massive leaks and overflow. People try to use foam seal and duct tape trying to stop the leaks when the adapter just needs to be installed correctly.

Ensure that everything downstream goes over the sections upstream. The upstream piece goes inside the downstream section. If you keep this sequence going all the way down, you won’t have any leaks. The adapter slips over the elbow or the end of the downspout and then goes inside your extension or inside your underground drain.

Which Material is Best for a Downspout Adapter?

Corrugated flex pipe is probably the most universal downspout adapter. Purchasing this material for the exact size of your downspout is really important. They usually come in 3×4 inch and 2×3 inch. When purchasing them, it is really hard to see the difference. Both sizes traditionally hook up to a four inch pipe, so they can often look exactly the same.

Ultimately, the best material you can choose is the one that works with your extension or with your underground drainage system. Whatever type of drainage system you’re putting in, whether it’s corrugated or PVC pipe, use the product it’s intended for. PVC is probably the most durable on the market and black corrugated pipe is the most universal.

Do You Have to Clean a Downspout Adapter?

Downspout adapters normally do not need any cleaning at all. It is such a short section that there is no cleaning required. However, sometimes they are installed with screws that are too long. If this is the case, the adapter could catch a lot of debris. Remove the screws if they are too long, take the adapter off and knock out whatever debris is caught inside. Reinstall the downspout adapter with half inch screws. You are better off not using any screws than using one that is too long


When shopping for a downspout adapter, be sure that it is going to fit your downspout. Make sure it is the product that matches the downspout or the underground drain and or the extension that you’re going to be connecting to. Only use half inch maximum length screws and you should be able to install your downspout adapter with ease.

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