It is mandatory for all property owners in Toronto to ensure their downspouts are disconnected from the City’s sewer system.

During heavy rain, the sewers can become overloaded, which can increase the risk of basement flooding and release of polluted rainwater into local waterways.

By disconnecting downspouts and directing stormwater onto the property instead, it can minimize the risk of sewer overloads.

It’s important that the work is done safely, properly and in accordance with the Property Standards Bylaw (see §629-20. Roofs and roof structures).

Before starting, consider these important guidelines:

  • Water should flow away from a building’s foundation.
  • Extend your downspout at least 2 m (6 feet) away from foundation walls.
  • Ensure flow of water will not cause damage to your neighbour’s property, or onto a driveway or sidewalk.
  • Use a splash pad to help direct the flow of water and protect against erosion.
  • Avoid creating a tripping hazard; do not add extensions across a walk-way or in front of a gate or doorway.
  • Water flow may freeze in the winter; do not create dangerous conditions.
  • Consider using a rain barrel to capture and store rainwater.
    • During winter months, remove the rain barrel to avoid freezing and breaking.
    • After removing the rain barrel, add an extension to the downspout to ensure proper drainage away from your home.
  • Consider extending downspouts under a deck, patio or to a grassed or garden area.
  • Consider creating a rain garden or removing hard surfaces surfaces, such as concrete pathways or patios to allow water to infiltrate.
  • Once you’ve disconnected, cap the sewer connection − the open pipe remaining when the downspout is removed. This prevents water and debris from going in and stops animals from falling into the opening.

Proper maintenance of your eavestroughs and downspouts is important to ensure they are working properly.

  • Clean eavestroughs at least twice a year, and check all elbows and outlets for debris to prevent clogging.
  • Fix any leaks and repair any low spots or sagging areas along your eavestroughs. Lastly, make sure all parts are securely fastened.

Once you are ready to disconnect, you can decide to do it yourself or hire a contractor:

Tips on disconnecting downspouts yourself

Tips on hiring a contractor

Seniors and persons with a disability may qualify for financial assistance to help with downspout disconnection.

There are a few instances where disconnecting your downspout is either hazardous or not technically feasible.

Before applying for an exemption, property owners should make every effort to disconnect their downspouts from the City’s sewer system by:

  • Relocating one or more downspouts.
  • Re-grading eavestroughs.
  • Correcting the slope/grading on property.

Apply for an Exemption

Property owner(s) are required to complete and submit the Mandatory Downspout Disconnection Exemption Application, which includes submission of a property sketch. A sample application and sample property sketch are provided for assistance.

Several factors will be considered in the review of an exemption application. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Options for the relocation of one or more downspouts.
  • Ability to mitigate hazards and/or correct grading.
  • Compliance with other municipal by-laws and/or statutory regulations.

Applicants will be notified in writing of the decision to grant or deny an exemption for each connected downspout.

The General Manager reserves the right to revoke an exemption previously issued where any information provided is misleading or inaccurate, or when property and/or building conditions change. For example, the property’s landscaping is significantly modified or the roof is rebuilt.

For more information on the Mandatory Downspout Disconnection Program, contact 311.

Submit Application

Submit your completed application to:

City of Toronto
Mandatory Downspout Disconnection Program
PO Box 15266
Toronto, ON  M7Y 2W1