Your home shelters you from the elements in every season. Heavy rains can be troublesome and ruinous which is why gutter systems are vital to keeping your home safe and weatherproof year-round. Gutters collect and siphon water off your roof to protect its structural integrity. Downspouts play a critical role in this process; they carry the water away from your roof and the base of your home. Rain guttering systems are meant to keep rainwater away from your walls and soils.
Downspout cleaning is one of the basic parts of rain gutter maintenance. In short, to ensure that your gutters are working properly you need to make sure that the entire guttering system is free of obstructions, and this includes your downspouts. If you don’t clean your gutters regularly, most of the debris will wind up in your downspouts, and once there, there’s no easy way to get it out. Fortunately, there are simple ways you can prevent your downspouts from getting clogged in the first place.
How Does a Downspout Work?
Too much water 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 and let out further away from your home.
Regardless of its shape, an effective downspout will drain water efficiently and help prevent flooding in a storm.
Why Are Clogged Downspouts a Problem?
Downspouts can be clogged when there’s debris caught in the water current that flows through the gutters. Sometimes dirt, leaves, pinestraw, branches, and other bits are simply drained away along with the rainwater. But clogs are a risk when you leave the debris to take up room within your rain guttering system. If your gutters aren’t cleaned on a regular basis it’s easy to imagine this result, and the effects might not become evident until your downspouts are completely blocked, with no way for the water to flow. It might be hard to find the clog because downspouts have no open portions that could let you look inside, but the downspout elbows and seams are two of the most likely places to get clogged when there’s too much debris running freely from your gutters.
If you have any of the following issues, chances are your downspouts are well on the way to becoming fully clogged:
- Your gutters are overflowing. This is a common outcome for any type of clog, but it’s more likely that the obstruction is affecting your downspouts if the water is overflowing in the area right above the downspout or anywhere near it. If the problem has progressed without maintenance you might find water overflowing your entire guttering system.
- Water is leaking from your downspout. At some point the water leaking from your downspout has nowhere to go but back where it came from. In this case, the water would flow upwards until it starts leaking from the gutter outlet. Too much water might also compromise the structures of the downspouts themselves, to the point of causing fissures in any of their joints.
- Your downspouts are coming apart. They might start losing their hold around the seams, or they might get detached from the gutter.
How to Prevent Clogged Downspouts
The first step takes place the moment you install your gutters. Basically, the size of your downspouts must match the width of your gutter. Some smaller size gutters are not compatible with large downspout formats, so if you want to get wider downspouts to reduce the risks of clogs, be sure to contact a professional gutter installation company to help you choose a system that matches your gutter’s dimensions. Be sure to use professionals who can ensure that your guttering system is right for your home and your climate.
If you want to prevent clogs and obstructions without upending your entire guttering system with renovations, there are a few simple steps.
Install gutter covers
There’s no way to stop leaves and dirt from slipping into your gutters in the middle of a rainstorm unless you have proper protection in place. Gutter guards will cover the parts of your gutters that are most vulnerable, so that rain and wind don’t bring outside elements into your gutters and down your downspouts. They are the simplest solution to ward off debris, branches, pinestraw, leaves, and rodents. Moreover, you get to decide how much of your gutters you want to have covered; perhaps there are places or areas where a gutter guard might not be needed. A professional installer will be able to help you make this assessment.
Keep an eye on your area’s vegetation
Gutter guards are already a great asset, but if your house is surrounded by trees, you need to keep an eye on the leaves, branches, and pine needles growing around your house, especially if they are situated right over your gutters. All the vegetation in your yard may eventually find its way into your gutters, so you need to keep all your trees and shrubs properly trimmed. Also get rid of fallen leaves as quickly as possible after a storm, even if they land far from your downspouts.
Set a schedule to inspect your gutters
Even if you think they’re working properly, you should make it a habit of assessing your gutter’s at least once a month, more often during rainy seasons, and especially after a big storm. You need to look under your gutters and in the space between the gutters and the walls. You also need a ladder to reach your roof and evaluate the inside of your gutter system. Finally, you have to check your downspouts, starting from the gutter outlet and all the way to the point of connection where the downspouts meet the ground. If you see any problems, you’ll want to contact your professional gutter cleaning and repair company as quickly as possible so the next storm won’t damage your home.
How Do I Hide My Gutter Downspout?
Effective and long lasting rain gutters can’t be without downspouts. Yet when it comes to rain gutter installation, downspouts may pose a challenge because they often clash against roofs and walls in a way that even a whole new rain guttering system manages to avoid.
There’s one important factor you must keep in mind when coming up with ways to conceal your downspouts: you can’t alter the water flow. If you wind up blocking the water in the downspouts or changing the course set during the installation process, you may have to replace your entire rain guttering system. When it comes to downspout concealment, here are some suggestions that usually do the work without affecting the performance of your gutters.
Painting the downspouts
You can paint your downspouts with special metal paint to make them match your exterior walls or trim or any other prominent feature of your home.
You must start by removing the downspouts and adding some marks to remember their proper location around the gutters. After setting the downspouts on a surface, you must prep them for painting using oxygen bleach and sandpaper. Apply metal paint primer on the downspouts and wait 30-60 minutes for it to dry. Downspouts usually require 2-3 coats of paint, but you can add more if you’re not satisfied with the color. Wait 24 hours for the painting work to dry before putting the downspouts back in place.
Painting Tip: choosing the right paint for your downspouts can be a tricky task. The end result might look different after drying and some paints might not withstand extreme climate changes as well as you had hoped. Remember to bring some pictures of your downspouts and their surroundings to the paint store to get professional assistance while choosing the best paint for the job.
Growing plants around the downspouts
This is a great option. Surrounding greenery not only works as a great way to conceal your downspouts, it also serves as a great addition to make your home all the more beautiful.
There are many plants that will work around your downspouts. Vines are a popular choice that will cover the entire length of the downspouts, as long as you wrap them properly around the spot you want them to grow from. If you don’t want to grow vines directly on the downspouts you can either build a trellis or grow a plant into the ground facing them.
Plant tip: If you plan on growing vines, annual sweet pea, evergreen clematis, and cup and saucer are some great options. When it comes to potted plants anything that’s tall and bushy will work, but fairy fuschia and honey suckle can be a great starting point. Just remember to keep them trimmed so that they don’t contribute to clogging.
How to Unclog a Gutter Downspout
If you know your downspout is clogged, the first step to fixing is to identify the problem area. To survey the system from above, you’ll want to set a ladder in a safe condition. Follow these DIY steps to begin diagnosing your downspout issue:
- Inspect the downspout drain for clogs or buildup
- Climb the ladder and check for debris in nearby gutter areas
- If you have a downspout strainer, detach it and clean any accumulated debris
- Check the nearest elbow joint for debris buildup and clear it out
- Use a hose to run water through the downspout
- If water still isn’t draining properly, use a plumbing snake or high pressure hose to clean 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 clean 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 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.
Whenever you feel like you’re out of your league, contact the professionals at Jimmy’s Gutter Service to clean and unclog your downspouts or any other section of your gutters.
When your gutter system needs cleaning and repairs, you need a professional you can trust. At Jimmy’s Gutter Service we have years of experience in providing installation, cleaning and repair for gutters on both commercial and residential buildings. When you work with us, you’re choosing a team that is quick, safe, and trustworthy. If you need assistance to keep your gutters unclogged you can always contact us, and we’ll ensure that your gutters last through any storm. Just call or fill out the contact form to schedule an appointment with our team. We’re here when you need us!