5 Steps to Open Downspouts at Home

open downspout

If your downspouts are clogged, it’s not only a nuisance — it can also lead to dramatic flooding issues in your basement or around the foundation of your home. They might look simple, but your gutters and downspouts are part of an important system to funnel water away from your house. Knowing how to open downspouts on your home is an important DIY skill to have in your homeowner tool belt.

At Eby Exteriors, we’re exterior experts who can install, fix, or repair your downspouts in the blink of an eye — but we’re also happy to share our expertise as well. Learn the 5 steps to open clogged downspouts on your home.

How to Clear a Clogged Downspout

Like any type of gutter or roof repair work, it’s always safety first, both for you personally and for your house. The last thing you want to do is turn clogged downspouts into an even bigger problem.

  1. Identify the Problem — Looking out your window and seeing sheets of water cascading over the edge of your gutter is a pretty solid indication that your downspouts are blocked. The first thing to do is check your gutters — if those are clear, you know that the problem is with the downspout system. The problem is either in the downspout itself or in the underground drain, if your home has one of those.
  2. Test the Downspouts — First things first, you’ll need to visually inspect the pipe. A bend or indent in your downspouts can cause them to become at least partially clogged, so that’s the clue you’re looking for. After that, get on a ladder and spray your hose into the downspout. If the water doesn’t make it out the end or doesn’t come out at the same rate that you’re spraying into the downspout, you know you’re dealing with a clog or a partial clog.
  3. Tap Gently on the Downspouts with a Hammer — The elbows and corners are the most common areas for clogs to form, so that’s where you should begin trying to open the downspout. Use a hammer (it may even be best to use the handle of the hammer) to tap gently on downspouts — particularly at elbows, edges, and corners. If you hit the right spot, you can dislodge the clog and open the downspout.
  4. Check the Underground Drain — If your downspouts run into an underground drain rather than on the ground surface, that is another possible place for a clog. If you see a pool of water in your yard at the location of your underground drainage system, that’s a sign that the clog is in the drain instead of the downspout.

    If your underground drain is clogged, you’ll need a septic company to rectify the issue for you.
  5. Remove the Downspouts — This is your last resort to fix a blocked downspout. While many homeowners prefer to work with exterior companies to handle this job, if you’re handy you can do it on your own. The difficulty of the job depends on how the piping is fastened to the house.

    If your downspouts are simply screwed into the siding, using a power drill can make removing them easy. However, if your downspout is fastened using a rack and key system, you’ll probably want to trust an expert to remove it.

Clogged Downspout Causes

leaves clogging roof downspout

Keeping your gutters clear plays a crucial role in ensuring your downspouts stay unclogged. Debris from your gutters can flow into your downspouts and form these clogs, particularly in the bends and elbows of the pipe.

Here are some of the most common causes for blocked downspouts:

  • A Ball of Some Kind — More common than you’d expect, tennis balls and baseballs are the perfect size to get trapped in your spout.
  • Sludge or Tar from Roof Shingles — This paste becomes an adhesive in your gutters, balling together with other organic materials.
  • Pine Needles — Pine leaves are small but they can mush together into a tenacious substance that blocks your drains.
  • Leaves and Twigs — The main ingredients for clogged downspouts, leaves and twigs can pose a problem particularly if your house is in the woods.

Since gutters are the main way debris enters your downspouts, keeping them clean or protecting them is key. Learn more about gutter guards.

Eby Exteriors Can Open Your Downspouts

Over the winter, ice amplifies the risk of clogged downspouts. If water doesn’t have a clear path to flow out, it’ll freeze solid. This creates an invitation for more leaves and debris to get caught, creating a vicious cycle.

If you need help diagnosing or fixing your clogged downspouts, we’re the team to call. Contact Eby Exteriors for a free consultation about your clogged downspouts.

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