what to do when you have a clogged downspout

Your home shelters you from the elements in every season. Heavy rains can be disruptive and destructive, which is why gutter systems are integral to keeping your home safe and weatherproof year-round. Gutters collect and siphon water off of your roof to protect its structural integrity. Downspouts play a vital role in this process — they carry this water away from your roof and the base of your home.

Downspouts — also known as leaders — typically look like vertical pipes attached to the side of a building with openings at the bottom to drain water. The storms that put your downspout to work may also blow debris into your gutter system. Over time, this waste material can create clogs that decrease your gutter’s efficiency and put your home at risk for water damage. To keep your drainage system functioning well, look out for these signs of a clogged gutter.

Signs of a Clogged Downspout

Because a downspout is designed to drain water away from your house, spotting a clogged downspout usually begins with finding water where it shouldn’t be. Check for these signs to determine if your downspout needs some maintenance:

  • Water spilling over gutters: If you notice water cascading off the edges of your gutter during heavy rainfall, you may have a downspout issue. Gutters are designed to catch rainwater that falls onto your roof and feed it to the ground through the downspout. If your downspout is clogged, rainwater may stay trapped in the gutter and overflow off the side.
  • Water isn’t draining through downspout: A telltale sign that you have a blockage in your downspout is the absence of water running through the spout during and after a rain. When your downspout has runoff to drain, but nothing is coming out, you have a problem.
  • Basement flooding: The purpose of installing gutter systems to keep water away from the base of your home is to avoid water buildup that could seep into your basement. If your basement begins to flood during a storm, it may be a sign that your downspout isn’t performing as intended and water is pooling near your home’s foundation.
  • Sagging/collapsing gutters: Unless your gutter is aging, sagging could be a sign that it is holding excess water. Improper drainage due to downspout blockage creates unnecessary wear on your system. If you notice that parts of your gutter are beginning to detach from your roof, you may want to examine your downspout.

Before you attempt to clear a gutter or downspout clog, it’s helpful to understand how a gutter system works.

How Does a Downspout Work?

how does a downspout work

Too much water pooling on your roof at once gets heavy and dangerous. Gutters use a network of tubes to funnel this water to the ground and mitigate damage to your home. Most gutters attach to the flat part on the edge of your roof, known as the fascia.

Whether open-faced or covered with a gutter guard, gutters collect rainwater and feed it into a downspout. Downspouts come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but most are vertically bracketed to an exterior wall. At the bottom, an elbow joint functions as a spout to guide water away from the base of your home. Some downspouts may even continue underground and let out further away from your home.

Regardless of its shape, an effective downspout will drain water efficiently and help prevent basement flooding in a storm. If your downspout isn’t doing one or both of those tasks, you should complete the following steps to check for a clog.

Check for Clogs and Find the Source

If you know your downspout is clogged, the first step to fixing it is to identify the problem area. To survey the apparatus from above, you’ll want to set up a ladder in a safe location. Follow these steps to begin diagnosing your downspout issue:

  1. Inspect the downspout drain for clogs or buildup
  2. Climb the ladder and check for debris in nearby gutter areas
  3. If you have a downspout strainer, detach it and clear any accumulated debris
  4. Check the nearest elbow joint for debris buildup and clear it out
  5. Use a hose to run water through the downspout
  6. If water still isn’t draining properly, use a plumbing snake or high-pressure hose to clear the downspout

You may need to detach the downspout and manually unclog it if it still isn’t draining properly after following these steps. If your downspout is clogged and runs underground, the issue could be in the underground pipe sections. In either of these situations, you can attempt to fix the downspout yourself or call a professional for help.

Small blockages may be simple to clear on your own, but the job may be messy and hazardous. Practice extreme caution when ascending and descending ladders and when reaching into downspouts. In many cases, calling a professional is more convenient and effective — especially if your clog is underground.

Digging up an underground downspout section can be laborious and can put you at risk of hitting underground utility lines. Professionals can handle the clog quickly and ensure your yard and utilities remain safe throughout the process.

Protect Your Downspout From Future Clogs

One way to prevent future downspout clogs is to consider installing a gutter guard. Gutter guards block large debris from falling into your gutters while still allowing rainwater to pass through. There are three different guard types:

  • Gutter Screens: These guards look like window screens and help filter out debris while keeping water flowing. While effective, these guards must be removed and cleaned periodically.
  • Gutter Inserts: Insert guards are made of a foam material and fill up a gutter while allowing water to flow through. These guards must be removed and cleaned regularly.
  • Reverse Curves: Reverse curves attach above the gutter and create an inverted curve shape. This design funnels water into the gutters while creating a slope to push debris off the roof. Though typically more expensive, high-quality reverse curves are highly effective and require very little maintenance.

If you’re tired of dealing with downspout clogs, investing in a gutter guard may be the best solution. This small preventative measure can keep water damage and clogs at bay, giving you peace of mind during storms.

Contact a Professional Home Services Company to Clean and Unclog Downspouts

contact add ventures for home improvement services

When your gutter system needs cleaning and repairs, you need professionals you can trust. At Add Ventures, we have over 20 years of experience in fulfilling commercial and residential contracting needs. When you work with us, you’re choosing a team that is quick, safe and trustworthy.

We understand all the work that goes into maintaining your property well. That’s why we’re committed to serving you with quality work and quality relationships in everything we do.

If you’re in the NY, NJ or CT area and need gutter system cleaning or repairs, contact Add Ventures today.