Rain Leader Maintenance & Storm Water Management Keep Your Basement Dry

Rain Leader Repair & Storm Water Solutions in Baltimore

When it comes to regular home maintenance, gutter cleaning ranks toward the top of most people’s to-do list.  Removing leaves and debris from gutters and downspouts is a no brainer, but can be a pointless chore – or service call – if your rain leaders aren’t also attended to.  With nowhere to go, rain pouring into clogged rain leaders and storm water drains can back up into your basement.  Historic homes are the most susceptible to storm water damage for one simple reason.  They have rain leaders that are often overlooked, under-maintained, or the homeowner is unaware that they even exist.

In the following guide, you will find various information about rain leaders and stormwater management.  If you would like to jump to a particular topic, use the links below:

Rain Leaders  |  Maintenance  |  Do I Have Rain Leaders?  |  Repair  |  Costs  |  Installation  |  Catch Basins  |  Stormwater Solutions  |  Consultation

What is a rain leader?

A rain leader is a pipe that connects to your downspouts.  It takes the water from your roof and gutters, and drains that stormwater far from your home.  This prevents water problems in your basement and around your home’s foundation.  Rain leaders are typically found in older homes that were built before the 1950s.  We often come across rain leaders in neighborhoods like Towson, Roland Park, Guilford, and Homeland.

A technical drawing cross section of a gutter and downspout channeling rain into a rain leader for stormwater management purposes

How often do rain leaders need to be maintained?

The purpose of a rain leader is to carry water from your downspout away from your house’s foundation.  The nature of their job requires passing objects that aren’t meant to flow through pipes.  Leaves, twigs, pinecones, foliage, and sediment may all travel through a rain leader.  When these items get stuck in the rain leader, problems begin to occur.  Rain leaders sit idle when months without rainfall pass by.  Without regular water flow, debris in the system sits and solidifies.  Their shallow depth underground also makes it easy for rain leaders to collapse or get root clogs.  It is ideal for rain leaders to undergo maintenance while they are still capable of draining.  It is much easier to clean out sediment and debris while flushing the pipe at the same time.  It is not always possible to clean or maintain a pipe that is no longer draining.  If a rain leader ceases to drain, a more expensive excavation and repair job are often necessary.  

In a perfect world, rain leaders receive annual maintenance.  Our clients have found great success in scheduling yearly rain leader servicing.  If you feel your home would benefit from an annual rain leader cleaning, please reach out to us.

Does my home have rain leaders?

At this point, you may be asking yourself, does my home have a rain leader system?  The presence of a rain leader system is not always obvious.  It is surprisingly common for old piping to become buried and forgotten.  Yet, there are a few surefire ways to identify if you do in fact have rain leaders.

Are there pipes emerging from the ground near your downspouts?  This is the most obvious indicator of a home’s rain leader system.  If connected properly, your downspouts should be running into these pipes.  Many older homes have abandoned rain leader systems.  They are usually disconnected from downspouts, filled with concrete, or buried.  It is often possible to restore function to a neglected rain leader system, but in some cases, replacement is necessary.

Many houses constructed before the 1950s have a rain leader system.  It was a standard practice to add rain leaders to homes back then, especially if the grading around the building was not ideal.  Rain leaders became necessary features of larger estates.  A special system was – and still is – necessary to handle the sheer volume of rain water coming off of a large home’s roof.  Rain leaders handle this water, moving it away from the basement and foundation.  Some of these homes may even have separate connections to the municipal stormwater drainage system.  Instead of discharging into the yard, these carry rain water to a city or county storm drain.  In rare instances, some rain leaders even tie into a home’s sewer.  This is no longer allowed and needs correction to meet current code requirements.

Rain leader repair

Rain leaders are a frequently forgotten facet of home maintenance.  Most homeowners don’t know they have rain leaders – or what they are – until they stop working.  The best time to maintain or repair your rain leaders though is before water floods your basement.  We are often called out to do a leak detection test because of a wet basement or problematic basement stairwell drain.  Then we discover that the problem stems from a damaged or clogged rain leader.

Most homeowners are not aware of their rain leaders’ condition.  We always suggest a thorough initial investigation of the system.  This helps determine what problems are present in the pipes and are affecting the home.  An initial investigation starts with a camera inspection.  This enables us to judge the condition of all drains and pipes in the system.  We use pipe locating technology to trace their locations and connections on the property.  After we establish a clear picture of the rain leader network, we are able to take the next steps.  Each of the problem areas undergoes a drain clean and flushing.  If the drain clean is not successful, more extensive work needs to occur.  The next steps can include work such as pipe jetting or physical repair of the pipe.  Pipe jetting is a common practice that can remove debris and clogs from rain leaders.  In the event that a pipe is cracked or damaged, excavation and repair are necessary.

It is very rare for rain leaders to need complete replacement.  Often, only one or two sections of pipe need physical repair.  The rest of the system can then have service reinstated by a drain clean and flushing.  Rain leader maintenance pricing begins at just $350.  Pricing increases from that point depending on the complexity of the system.  We are happy to create a pricing estimate for larger homes to help you understand what costs will ensue.

Rain leader repair costs

As mentioned above, rain leader repair pricing begins at the maintenance cost of $350.  A home with no previous rain leader maintenance will require a full diagnostic analysis.  We utilize both drain cleaning and camera inspection technology at this stage.  The rain leader drain lines must be mapped and located for a complete picture of the piping network.  After this information is gathered, we are able to do a precise excavation and repair of the rain leaders as needed.

Rain leader installation

What if you have a newer home without rain leaders?  You may consider having a rain leader system installed to help control stormwater around your home.  Rain leaders carry stormwater from your roof away from your basement and foundation.  They are more effective than any other gutter or downspout system.  If your home has a wet basement or other areas plagued by stormwater problems, consider investing in rain leaders.  Rain leaders can be installed at a shallow depth and do not require major excavation of your property.  They are relatively simple to install and are effective at relieving most rainwater issues.

Catch basin repair and maintenance

Catch basins are another crucial facet of rain leader and stormwater management.  Catch basins are underground boxes – or basins – with an open grate on top.  They have an outlet pipe that drains into a rain leader system.  Catch basins are designed to collect and filter sediment out of rainwater discharge.  They are usually placed at the bottom of basement stairwells, near driveways, at the entrance of garages, and around patio areas.  They are often overlooked and are seldom maintained.  When neglected, sediment levels rise to a point that blocks the outlet.  Water can then no longer drain from the catch basin.  It is also possible for sediment to drain out of the catch basin and clog the rain leader areas downstream.  These scenarios aren’t ideal and can affect the health of your home.  Rest assured knowing that C.A Taciak & Sons is able to reinstate your catch basins and rain leaders into service.

Other stormwater management options

Rain leaders are just one part of a complete stormwater management plan for your property.  There are many other options available that both control water around your home and add to the natural beauty of your landscaping.  The options below are just some of what is available to our clients.

Strategic Catch Basin Installation

A new catch basin can be easily added to an existing rain leader or stormwater management system. It can be sized to handle virtually any amount of stormwater. This can control water around your foundation and direct it to the rain leader network. Catch basins are excellent drainage solutions for driveways, garages, and patios.


Grading is creating a physical change to the natural topography of your property using excavating equipment.  Many things are possible through grading.  The pitch of a hill or your yard can be changed to direct water away from your home.  Filling in low spots can also prevent water from pooling in inconvenient areas. Both of these steps help eliminate soggy areas of your yard and funnels water away from your foundation protecting your home.


Swales are long depressions in areas of the ground.  They are designed to channel water away from structures and other sensitive areas.  Swales are usually simple to install and often add to the natural appearance of your yard.  Swales can also control and slow the speed of stormwater runoff down hills.  When used to direct the flow of water, it is possible for swales to even serve as natural irrigation sources for plants and landscaping.

Scheduling Stormwater Solutions

Do you have a basement or stairwell that is prone to flooding?  Have you noticed that your gutters just can’t handle the amount of rainwater coming off of your estate’s roof?  Perhaps your yard slopes toward your foundation, or depressions in your lawn pool with water.  None of these irritants have to be a permanent “feature” of your home.  C.A. Taciak & Sons is a licensed and insured underground plumbing specialist.  We have 70+ years of experience tackling Baltimore’s most intricate stormwater management problems.  Catering to neighborhoods like Ruxton, Roland Park, Homeland, Guilford, and Towson, we are happy to bring our expertise to your home.  Reach out to us to schedule your property’s rain leader, swale, grading, or stormwater project.