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How to Find and Fix a Clogged Downspout Underground

How to Find and Fix a Clogged Downspout Underground

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Waterproofing your home before the start of the rainy season is essential. The perfect solution for this is installing an underground downspout, especially when dealing with light flooding.

Not only does an underground downspout keep your home dry, but it also maintains the clean look of your house’s landscaping. However, what should you do with a clogged downspout underground?

Clogged underground downspouts can cause serious damage to your house. That’s why it’s best to address them as soon as possible.

Keep reading to find out more about how to detect a clogged underground downspout and how to fix it.

How To Detect a Clogged Underground Gutter Drain Pipe

Many people use a rain drainage system to keep unwanted moisture away from their houses. These systems start at the roof troughs and go all the way to the downspouts.

Generally, some downspouts end above ground, while others connect to an underground gutter drain pipe system.

Rain drainage systems are essential, whether these pipes lead the water a few feet away from the house or directly to the main sewers.

That said, the main concern when having underground gutter drain pipes is that they can get clogged.

In most cases, you may have to wait for the rainy season because rain makes it easier to examine leaks, blockages, or broken parts.

So, when the time comes, check for the following signs.

1 – Overflowing Gutters

Gutters are there to lead the accumulated rainwater down the drain pipes. So, it’s not normal for them to overflow.

However, when there’s a clogged pipe underground, the whole downspout ends up filling with water. Eventually, all the excess water fills the troughs along the roof line.

Naturally, water has to come out somewhere. That’s when the gutters start to overflow, and you notice water pouring over the house’s roof like a waterfall.

2 – Pooling Water on the Ground

Usually, downspouts connect to the underground drain pipes via adapters of various shapes and sizes. These adapters allow for a seamless transition of water from one pipe to the other.

When you have a clogged underground pipe, you may notice the water pooling on the ground around the end of the downspout.

That’s because water can’t help but gush back through any opening.

Yes, this might be hard to notice since the whole ground is wet during rain. However, pooling is a whole other thing.

3 – Leaking Water at the Seams

As previously mentioned, the gutter overflows when the whole downspout fills with water. Yet, sometimes the connections between the gutter pipes are a bit weak.

So, as the water fills the downspout, you can see it seep through the seams and joints.

4 – Water Damage in the Crawlspace or Basement

One of the sure signs you may have a clogged underground gutter drainage system is water damage. That’s especially noticeable in the basement or crawlspace under your house.

Water damage happens when rainwater pools around your house’s foundation. You may not notice the pooling water in some areas, but the water damage in the basement is hard to miss.

That’s why regular inspection for signs like this is essential before the start of the rainy season to maintain healthy foundations.

5 – Blocked Exit Points

While many underground gutter systems connect to the sewers directly, the ones that don’t have a few exit points somewhere.

Naturally, water should flow out of these exit points seamlessly. These outlets are usually four to six feet away from the house, and locating them is vital to detect any blockage.

So, if any exit point isn’t functioning properly, it’s definitely a sign of blockage somewhere.

How To Unclog an Underground Gutter Drain Pipe

Now that you know there’s certainly a blockage in your underground gutter drain pipes, it’s time to act upon it.

First things first is locating the clog. This can be challenging with most of the pipes buried underground.

Luckily, you can use a simple method to estimate where the clog is. All you need is a garden hose and a marker.

First, remove the adapter connecting the downspout to the underground drainage system. Then, shove the hose down the pipes.

Use the pen to mark the spot where the hose stops, and it should give you an estimated location of the clog.

Take a look at the following practices that may help you unclog your underground gutter drain pipe.

1 – The Hydro Jet Method

Clogs usually happen at transition points, such as the tees and elbows of the pipes. Mainly, it’s just accumulated leaves, twigs, and debris.

Consequently, a strong stream of water can do the job of unclogging your underground gutter drain pipe successfully.

The best tool for this job is a hydro jet. Just like a power washer, this machine ejects water at high pressure.

This pressurized blast of water can easily push the debris out of the pipes and clear the clog in no time.

2 – The Garden Hose Method

When the clog isn’t that stubborn, you may not need that fancy hydro jet tool. An ordinary garden hose can do the job just as efficiently.

To do this, insert the hose down the underground pipe and turn it on its highest setting. If it’s a simple clog, you shouldn’t face any problems with it.

Water should come out the other end of the drain pipe (the exit point), confirming the success of the process.

3 – The Plumber’s Snake Method

Also known as cable rodding, this method works for tougher blockages. It’s perfect for poking around and breaking down stubborn clogs.

Luckily, you can rent a plumber’s snake at any home improvement or hardware store. It’s convenient as it comes in different lengths according to your needs.

Simply push the metal snake through the drain pipe until it reaches the clog. Then, rotate the handle as you pull it out.

Usually, the plumber’s snake should catch and pull out any object stuck inside the pipe and clear the way for water to flow normally.

4 – The Flush Bag Method

This method utilizes the strength of pressurized water to clear the drain clog. Flush bags also go by other names, such as drain bladders and blow bags.

Basically, a flush bag looks like a deflated rubber balloon that you attach to a water source. Then, this piece goes down the drain to where the blockage is.

When the balloon fills up and empties the water suddenly, the strong rush of water helps clear out the clog.

Having said that, you should be careful when using such tools, as improper usage may lead to damaging the pipes.

5 – The Picote Milling Machine Method

Picote milling machines have the same operating strategy as the plumber’s snake. Yet, it’s much more heavy duty, making it perfect for severe blockage and ingrown tree roots.

The machine includes specialized heads you can attach to it that are able to break down any stubborn blockage.

Just make sure you have all protective gear on to avoid serious injuries in case you decide to use a picote milling machine yourself.

How To Prevent Underground Gutter Drain Pipe Clogs

Prevention is always better than cure. That’s why taking action to keep your gutter system up and running is vital.

Check out these few tips on how to keep your gutters clear.

  • Keep the Trees Trimmed: Trimming your trees now and then decreases the chances of accumulating leaves inside your house’s gutter system.
  • Inspect Downspouts: Clogs happen over time due to debris build-ups, and you can easily prevent them by inspecting and cleaning the gutter regularly.
  • Perform Frequent Maintenance: Checking for leakages and broken pipes is a great way to avoid any future damage.
  • Install Gutter Screens: These guards keep all the tree leaves and fallen debris out of your gutter system but may not be efficient for smaller objects, like pine needles.
  • Install Strainers: Downspout strainers are an added layer of protection to keep all the leaves and debris out of your underground gutters.

Final Thoughts

Detecting and addressing a clogged downspout underground as soon as possible is crucial to keep your house safe.

That’s why experts recommend performing regular inspections and maintenance of the whole gutter system each year.

Once the rainy season starts, it can be alarming to discover a clogged drain pipe. Luckily, clearing out blockages shouldn’t be a problem.

Having said that, if you find it hard to unclog your underground gutter drain pipes, it’s better to call a professional.


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