What is a rain leader?

installation of an entire rain leader system

What is a rain leader?

Using rain leaders to control stormwater at home


What is a rain leader?

Definition: A rain leader is a pipe that collects the water discharged from your gutters and downspouts, and moves this stormwater away from your home.  

What do rain leaders do?

Stormwater management for homes centers around protecting your home from the disastrous effect that out of control storm water creates.  Rain leaders are an important part of every stormwater management plan because they specifically eliminate the toll that stormwater takes on the foundation of your home.  The stormwater collected by your gutters and discharged out of your downspouts has the potential to erode and begin to destroy your home’s foundation if left unmanaged. Rain leaders completely prevent this.  They keep your basement dry, prevent your flower beds and expensive landscaping from washing out, and keep your lawn from developing large pools of water. Rain leaders can even be set up to funnel water into a rain garden on your property or to supplement a landscaping irrigation system.  As you can see, rain leaders are a crucial part of any home’s stormwater management system.

Does my home have rain leaders?

So how can you tell if your home has rain leaders?  Check the end of your downspout. If it connects to a pipe that heads underground, you have rain leaders.  If your downspout dumps out directly on to the ground, you may have a disconnected or forgotten rain leader system, or your home simply does not have them.  If you notice a pipe going underground near your downspouts there is a good chance that your home has an abandoned rain leader system. We can often work with and reuse a large part of this existing piping to minimize excavation for a new fully functioning rain leader system.  

Rain leader maintenance

Maintaining the rain leader system on your property is straightforward.  In fact, well installed rain leaders don’t need much attention. At most, we recommend an annual inspection and drain cleaning to ensure they don’t become clogged.  This is because rain leaders pass rain water, and in turn, whatever the rain water is carrying.  Leaves, twigs, moss, and sediment from your gutters flow through your stormwater pipes and can create clogs and blockages.

Because of their shallow depth, rain leaders can also experience clogging root intrusion. If the clog persists, a heavy rainfall could create a backup in your rain leader system, defeating the rain leaders purpose and potentially channeling water into your basement.  Drain cleaning is a great way to ensure your rain leaders always work at maximum efficiency.

As a homeowner it is also a good idea to occasionally visually inspect your rain leaders and the condition of your property during or shortly after heavy rainfall.  It is important to be aware of any potential problems or slow draining rain leaders before they become a real problem.

rain leader cleanout installation with mulch

Above is an example of a cleanout being added to an existing rain leader system. This allows the pipe to be accessed and easily maintained. After installing the cleanout, we pained it black and mulched the area so that it would blend in seamlessly with the landscaping.

Installing new rain leaders

Despite their usefulness, not all homes have rain leaders.  Rain leaders aren’t a necessity if your home does not have flooding or water problems when it rains.  However, if these types of problems currently affect your home, you may want to consider having rain leaders installed.  

Symptoms of stormwater issues that rain leaders help include:

  • A damp or frequently flooding basement
  • Pooling water close to your foundation or in your yard
  • Overwhelmed basement stairwell drains
  • Mulch or sediment washing away during rainfall

Most rain leader systems can be installed at a very reasonable depth with minimal excavation and ground disturbance.  If you are considering stormwater management for your home, rain leaders can be put in with ease.

Installation of an entire rain leader system

If you would like to learn more about rain leaders and stormwater management, we encourage you to read our Rain Leader service page.  There, we delve deeper into rain leaders, swales, catch basins, as well as their repair and replacement. If you still have questions we’d be happy to talk with you about your particular stormwater management needs.  Feel free to give us a call at 410-960-2667