If a Downspout is Clogged

Downspouts channel rainwater from the roof collected in the gutters to the ground and away from the foundation of your home. If a downspout is clogged, water is unable to flow freely out of the gutter system. Here are some tips for identifying when a downpipe has become blocked and what to do about it.

Signs of a Clogged Downspout

When debris such as twigs, leaves, dirt and pine needles enters the gutters, it can build up, creating blockages in the gutter channel and/or the downspout. Typical signs of a clogged downspout are:

  • water trickles instead of flows from the bottom (mouth) of the downspout
  • gutters continually overflow
  • gutters pull away from the fascia due to the weight of standing water
  • plant life or nests in the gutter channel

Fixing a Clogged Downspout

Debris build-up in downspouts can form in one or all of three places: at the gutter outlet (top of downspout), in the middle, or above or below elbows and seams (where sections of downpipe are joined).

Check at the top of the downpipe to see if the gutter outlet is free of leaves, etc. If it is, then the clog is somewhere inside the downspout.

Start up and work down tapping the outside of the downspout. If the inside of the downspout is free of debris, you should hear “ringing” (free of debris) rather than “thudding” (build-up blocking the flow of water).

At the gutter outlet, use a garden hose to flush water through the downpipe. If that doesn’t work, try dislodging the clog with a plumber’s snake. Removing the elbow (bottom of downpipe) might provide easier access to the clog.

Tips for Maintaining Downspouts

Keep gutter channels free of debris.

Ensure downspouts are properly secured to the house.

Dents can restrict water flow and create places for debris to become snagged. Fix or replace dented sections as soon as possible.

Make sure downspout extensions are properly attached. After a bout of stormy weather, check to see if they are still attached to the downpipe and working as they should.