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Home Gutters and Drainage Calculations for Central Indiana

Serious flooding and foundation problems can develop without adequate gutter and downspout capacity. Here are the details on how to protect your home.

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Indiana experiences quite a few extremes in the weather—thunderstorms to tornadoes, heat waves to droughts, and blizzards tossed in for good measure. Apart from the droughts, most of that weather brings water in the form of rain or snow. That then accumulates on your home’s roof and surrounding landscape, setting up perfect conditions for flooding basements or crawl spaces.

Home Rainfall and Drainage Water Management

There are quite a few critical items to consider in the full sweep of drainage water management around your home.

  • Total roof surface area, pitch, and valleys
  • Gutters and downspout capacity to move rain off the roof
  • Extension downspout pipes moving the rain from the foundation
  • Landscape grading to prevent rain pooling near your foundation
  • Basement or crawl space waterproofing and drainage systems
  • Dehumidifiers to prevent mold and mildew buildup

Rainfall Volume on a Typical Roof

The graph below shows just how rapidly rainfall builds up on a typical home. One inch of rain results in nearly 1,000 gallons of water. That rapidly advances to almost 5,000 gallons with five inches of rain.

how many gallons of water after rainfall

Rainfall on a 1,600-square-foot home

  • 1″ of rain: 997 gallons of water
  • 5″ of rain: 4,984 gallons of water
  • 12″ of rain: 11,962 gallons of water

Rainfall Water Volume vs. Roof Structure

The overall roof structure determines the amount of rainfall volume that accumulates. With a steeply pitched roof, there’s more surface area and the rain moves off the roof much more quickly. 

Not only that, but any wind moves more rain onto the roof, at least on the windward side of the home. Roof hips and valleys can also gather and accelerate rain into your home’s gutters and drainage system.

Here’s a list of things that must be considered when calculating gutter and downspout dimensions.

Properly Sized Gutter and Downspout Considerations:

  • Anticipated maximum rainfall intensity
  • Roof square footage, pitch, and any hip and valley rafters
  • Width and shape of gutters (K-style or half-round)
  • Slope of the gutters between downspouts
  • Downspout number and position as well their shape (round or rectangular)

Drainage Calculation for Indianapolis

NOAA states that the most intense five-minute burst of rain that’s likely over a 10-year period for Indianapolis is 0.617 inches. Inches per hour for our calculations is then 0.617 x 12, or 7.4 inches.

Let’s choose a home with a footprint of 850 square feet. With a roof pitch of 8-in-12, the pitch factor is 1.1, or a 10% increase over a flat roof. That brings the roof watershed to 935 square feet. Multiplying the maximum rainfall intensity for one hour of 7.4 by 935 yields a drainage capacity of 6,919 square feet. That fits within the capacity of a six-inch K-style gutter at 7,960 square feet. The builder will also need to take into consideration the pitch of the gutter, the number of downspouts, and their size and shape.

Drainage Away From the Foundation

That gets the rain off the roof and onto the ground. But the journey should absolutely not stop there. With heavy rain, the ground will also be soaked with the water from the roof pooling up around the foundation.

Critical elements of the drainage system at that point will be extensions of the downspouts moving the water in the desired direction away from the basement or crawl space. In addition, your home’s landscape should be graded to move the water away from the foundation. Installing basement waterproofing solutions or crawl space encapsulation can greatly limit any chance of flooding.

The Costs of Home Flooding

FEMA has developed cost estimates of several different levels of home flooding. We’ve highlighted those in the graph below.

cost of water damage, repairs and flood cleanup

Cost of Water Damage and Repairs

(2,500-square-foot single-story home)

  • 1 inch of water in the home: $26,807
  • 1 foot of water in the home: $72,163 
  • Damaged foundation: Lose up to 30% of your home value
    That’s $105,000 for a $350,000 home.

These are impressive (if distressing) numbers to take into account as you consider your home’s gutters, downspouts, and drainage. Getting everything set up correctly to prevent basement or crawl space flooding can well be worth the cost.

For professional advice on drainage systems for your home, contact your local foundation experts at Indiana Foundation Service for a free inspection and repair estimate to identify any issues that could lead to foundation damage.

IFS Map of service area

Foundation Repair, Basement Waterproofing & Crawl Space Repair and Encapsulation, Serving Central Indiana & Indianapolis


624 North Front Street
Whiteland, IN 46184