Skip to main content
Get $225 Off Gutter Helmet Today!*


This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Part of regular home maintenance involves checking your gutters and downspouts for clogs and debris. When a gutter or downspout is clogged, water backs up, which leads to soil erosion and water damage to your home and property.

What’s a Downspout?

Downspouts consist of tubes that extend from the gutter to the ground and are usually installed by a low point along a gutter system. The downspout is usually made of the same material as the gutter. There is one downspout for roughly every 40 feet of gutter.

How Does a Downspout Work?

Downspouts curve outward at the bottom end to direct water away from a house’s foundation. The soil below the base of the downspout can be protected from erosion by placing a splash block at the base. Some homes also have an underground drainage system that connects to the downspout, carrying the water away from the home. Learn more about how downspouts work.

Often homeowners remember to clear out gutters but forget downspouts, which means that water flows down smoothly from the roof through the gutters and then gets stuck in a clogged downspout. When you fail to clear out a clogged downspout, water backs up and the excess water may damage the exterior and foundation.

Start with Gutters & Install Gutter Guards

You know you have a clogged gutter when you see water flowing out over the gutter edges during a storm or you can see soil erosion under the gutter. Other signs that can indicate clogged gutters include peeling paint, dirt and moisture on the house siding.

You can clean your gutters by hiring a professional or do it yourself with caution. The most effective way you can prevent clogs in your gutter is by installing gutter splash guards.

How to Install Gutter Guards

A gutter splash guard protects your gutters by fitting over open gutters and preventing new debris, animal matter, leaves, twigs and other small objects from entering your gutter system. They prevent clogs from forming in the first place, while allowing water to flow down smoothly through the gutters. While you can install gutter guards yourself, hiring a professional who is trained in how to install gutter guards is advisable as it takes some skill and precision.

Check Downspouts for Clogs

Clogs in downspouts cannot be easily seen. You will need to feel inside the downspout by tapping with a screwdriver, starting at the top and working your way down. A good rule of thumb is to check downspouts when you check gutters. Rinse out any clogs with a hose.

If you see that water is not flowing out of your downspout in a storm, you probably have a clog in it. Check for the cage, a wire mesh material between the gutter and downspout that can get filled with debris or even damaged. If it is damaged, you will need to disconnect the downspout and refit it with a new downspout cage.

Check Drainpipes for Clogs

Some homes have downspouts that connect to a drainpipe that goes into the ground and carries water away from the house to a dry well or sewer. This can also get clogged. This clog can be difficult to clear out as it is below the house and hard to reach. Drainpipe clogs are not always caused by debris accumulation either. They can be caused by tree roots growing into the pipe and damaging it.

To clear out the drainpipe, first remove the downspout. Use a plumbing snake or hose to clear out the clog. If the clog is too far down along the pipe, you will need professional help to clear out the pipe’s clog.

Check Water Flow Over Gutters

If you see water flowing over the edges of your gutters and not through your downspouts, your downspouts are most likely clogged with a small object or leaves and twigs. Remove the downspout from a connecting drain, place a garden hose inside the downspout and turn the water on. If you see water backing up, you have a clog. Tap on the downspout to remove the clog.

If the clog does not come out, remove the hose. Clear out the downspout with a plumbing snake. If this does not clear it out, take the downspout off and dissemble. Clear out the clog, rinse it out and reassemble. Rinse out the gutter system before you reattach the downspout.

Prevent and minimize downspout clogs by using high-quality gutter protection systems such as Gutter Helmet®, the best gutter guard system in the United States for over 30 years. Call us at (800) 824-3772 for more information and a quote to install your new system.