Blocked Downspouts

Vancouver gutters and downspouts take a beating during our rainy season. The gutter system of your home has been (mostly) on summer vacation. But before we head into fall, while it’s still sunny, now is a good time to check for any accumulated debris that might cause blockages when heavy rains and storms arrive. With the help of a ladder, a visual inspection of the gutters will allow you to spot potential trouble areas. However, if the clogs and clumps of dirt are snagged somewhere inside the downpipe, they are a little harder to detect.

It’s not just leaves and twigs that get into the gutters and downpipes – also look for birds’ or squirrels’ nests, balls and hives (bee or wasp homes). Typical places debris can build up in downspouts are at the top, in the middle or above or below the elbow. Start at the top of the downspout, where it’s attached to the gutter. Look inside. If you can see a clump of something that shouldn’t be there, use a length of wire with one end bent into a hook to remove it.

To check for blockages inside the downspout, use a garden hose or pour several buckets of water into the downspout where it connects to the gutter. If the water runs easily and quickly through the downpipe, then there most likely isn’t an obstruction. If the water takes its time exiting the downspouts (dribbling or trickling), then you will need to find where inside the downpipe the clog is.

Shine a light into the end of the downspout to check for an obstruction just below or above the elbow. Try to remove it with a length of wire. If that doesn’t work or if the blockage is further up, in the middle of the downpipe, you may need to use a plumbing snake or auger to remove the clog. No matter where you found the clog, at the top, middle or end of the downspout, flush water through the system one final time just to make sure that the downpipe is free of debris.