Are your gutters overflowing when it rains? Is there water in your basement or home with no explanation as to why or how it got there? Are your gutters falling apart? If you answered yes to one or all of these questions, chances are you have a clogged downspout.
How does a downspout work?
To understand why your downspout is clogged, it is helpful to understand how downspouts work. The gutters along the edges of the roof of your home are connected to your downspout. The water that runs from the roof and into your gutters go down the downspout and into the ground. To protect the foundation around your home, some homes have plastic or rubber splash guards that protect the soil while other downspouts are connected to an underground pipe that carries the water away from the home and empties either in the street gutter or dry well.
When your downspout is clogged, it’s because leaves, pine needles, pieces of your roof and other debris have made their way into your gutter. When your gutter is full of gunk and it rains, all this gunk is pushed into your downspout which can result in a clog of the downspout and or the pipe that is supposed to carry the water away from your home. When this happens, the water backs up and can cause some serious damage to both the outdoor and indoor foundation of your home.
Resolving the problem
If you suspect the pipe connected to the downspout is clogged, take your hose and fill it until the water pours out, go to the location where the pipe carries the water away and wait. If there is a clog, you’ll either see no water or only a small amount of water with leaves and some gunk intermixed with it. If this is the case, call a professional and licensed plumber to run a snake and clear out the clog.
If your home does not have a pipe that carries the water away, the downspout itself might be clogged. Carefully detach it from the gutter and use the garden hose and the handle of a rake to clear the gunk.
In both cases, once the clog has been cleared, clean out your gutters. Remove as much as you can be using a small gardening shovel or your hands placing all of the debris into a bucket – you don’t want to risk pushing all of it down your downspout and cause another clog. After the large particles are collected, take the garden hose and spray anything left down the downspout.
The number one way to prevent your downspout from clogging is keeping your gutters clean. Your gutters should be cleaned at the end of each season: after summer, after fall, after winter and after spring. You can also install gutter guards to reduce the amount of leaves, paint and other debris from getting into the gutter. The gutter guards cover the top of open gutters, preventing anything but water from making its way into the gutter.
Image credit: GutterHelmet.com