It’s been a rainy season, right? Now, your gutters are overflowing and water is leaking everywhere.
While these may seem like normal outcomes of a rainy week, they probably indicate a clogged downspout. If your downspout keeps clogging every time it rains, winter probably doesn’t seem as nice as it should!
Here’s how to know your downspout is blocked, what to do if it keeps clogging, and how to prevent that from happening again.
Gutter systems work in a relatively simple way. They collect rainwater and redirect it through a series of tubes to a downspout. The water then comes out of the downspout and ends up on the ground.
A blocked downspout can put your house’s foundation at risk because of the moisture, so it’s important to find the root cause before attempting to solve the problem.
A downspout mostly gets clogged because of waste materials. When too much debris, leaves, and twigs collect inside, they eventually stop the water from flowing. Houses with many trees surrounding them are more at risk of this happening.
Although this is the top cause, there may be different reasons, such as tiny granules from a newly-renovated roof.
If you recently upgraded your roof, there’s a chance it’s still shedding debris when there’s rain. It may be causing the blocked downspout.
If you have a short downspout, it’s only natural that it keeps clogging. There’s not enough length to redirect the water, so it’ll likely keep clogging all winter.
An easy solution to this is installing an extension. Or, you can replace the downspouts altogether if the problem persists.
A clogged downspout is bad enough, but do you know what’s even worse? A clogged downspout that you don’t know about.
Here are some signs that your downspout isn’t letting the water flow smoothly, so you can fix the issue before it rains again:
Overflowing gutters are a sure sign that the downspout is clogged because the water doesn’t have a way out. So, it collects in the gutters, and if it rains again, the water will start overflowing.
However, you’re likely to notice one of the other signs before this one since it often indicates a progressed issue.
If water is leaking out of the seams or the gutter outlet, there’s a high chance it can’t find a way out because the downspout is clogged. The leakage will start closest to the downspout, particularly in the area right above it.
If the weather is rainy, the water level will increase, which will cause leakage in other areas.
You may not notice a water leak, but you’ll notice worn or eroded soil near the downspout or under the gutter. This is usually a sign of water leaking onto the ground, which, in turn, indicates a clogged downspout.
You may notice other signs as well, such as moisture on the house siding and peeling paint.
Your gutters are supposed to redirect water away from the house. When the downspout is clogged, the water will probably end up in the basement or leak into the house’s foundation.
Consequently, if you find your basement flooding or even slightly wet, this is probably a sign of a clogged gutter system.
If your downspout keeps clogging even after you empty it of waste and check it regularly, you likely have to install a gutter guard. The issue is probably happening because of too much debris finding its way into the gutter.
A gutter guard will only let the water in, keeping the dirt out. If you don’t prefer this solution, you can always upsize your downspouts to keep them from clogging.
Here’s a roundup of all applicable solutions:
There are different guard types available on the market, such as gutter inserts and gutter screens.
Inserts are made from open-cell foam, looking a bit like sponges. They fit inside your gutters and absorb all the water, thanks to their porous material.
These guards are excellent for preventing clogs because they only let the water in, keeping all twigs, leaves, and debris outside. However, they need regular maintenance, which may be a hassle. On top of that, they don’t work for frosty climates because they may freeze and clog the gutters.
Aside from inserts, there are also gutter screens, which keep the debris out because they have tiny holes that only let water in. Such screens are mostly made of aluminum or any material that resists rust.
If your downspouts are too narrow, this may be the reason they get clogged so easily. Though not an easy solution, expanding them should solve this problem once and for all.
Larger downspouts won’t get clogged if a few sticks and twigs found their way inside, so even if they collect debris, it’ll come out with the water. On top of that, expanding your downspouts will cause them to redirect more water away from your house, which is ideal for rainy areas.
However, as with all solutions, this one comes with its share of downsides. For example, you may need to upsize the gutter as well, which will cost you plenty of money, particularly if the building is tall.
Installing a gutter guard is more cost-efficient, and it’s easily reversible if any issue arises.
Even if you manage to install guards or upsize your downspouts, there are still further steps to take to ensure no clogging occurs. A larger downspout will still clog if you don’t clean the debris frequently enough.
Here’s how to prevent your downspout from clogging again:
If you have trees around your house, they may be directly contributing to your clogging problem. When trees aren’t trimmed regularly, they start dropping leaves, branches, and twigs everywhere. Most of these waste materials end up in your gutters, eventually finding their way into your downspouts and clogging them.
Trees right above your gutters pose an even bigger problem because they’re too close. In this case, you’ll have to keep an eye on them for any dropping leaves or twigs.
It’s also wise to watch out for any dropped leaves and clean them regularly. Even if they’re on the ground, some wind may direct them to the gutters.
If you regularly inspect your gutter for any debris, there’s a low chance any clog will happens.
Downspouts essentially clog because of too much debris inside, so the issue is easily preventable by regular cleaning.
Every once in a while, use a ladder and look inside the gutters. Wear a pair of gloves, carry a plastic bag, and start collecting all waste before throwing it out.
You can also check the areas between your gutters and walls for any leaking water.
After you’re done, crouch on the ground and inspect your downspouts closely.
It’s recommended to do this process once every month, but if your downspout keeps clogging, it’s better to do it once a week until you find the root cause.
If your downspout keeps clogging, it’s probably because of too much waste. It may also happen if the downspout is short or too narrow for the rain’s frequency.
In the case of the latter problem, the best solution would be to replace the downspout or upsize it. That’ll ensure a smooth water floor without any obstructions.
Other than that, you can install a gutter guard to keep the debris out. It’ll need regular cleaning and maintenance, but at least it’ll prevent clogging.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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