Getting to the Basics: Remodeling Projects

How To Clean A Clogged Gutter Downspout

by Jill Jenkins

If your gutters overflow and you notice puddles on the ground, the downspout may be clogged. A clog should be removed right away to avoid structural damage and prevent trenches from forming in the ground from puddles. You should be able to remove the clog yourself. Here are tips to clean a clogged gutter downspout.

Prepare to Work

For this project, you need:

  • work gloves
  • ladder with standoff bracket
  • screwdriver
  • S-hook
  • tongs or spatula
  • wire coat hanger
  • garden hose with nozzle
  • bucket or tarp
  • plumber's snake

Disconnect downspouts that feed into an underground drain to avoid pushing the clog further into the pipe. Set the ladder on firm ground and get someone to hold it for you for extra safety, if needed.

Don't place the ladder right against the gutters, since they can't support the ladder weight. Never overreach on the ladder, and you body should stay within the ladder rails.

Use a Hose on the Clog

Hang a bucket on the ladder bracket using the S-hook for disposing of debris. Remove leaves and debris from the gutters with tongs or spatula. As an alternative, spread tarp on the ground and rake the debris on it. 

Unbend a coat hanger and insert it into the downspout to work the clog loose. Attach the garden hose to the downspout at the bottom and turn the hose on full water power. If the downspout drains underground, connect the hose to the PVC pipe.

Disconnect the hose and repeat at the top of the downspout. Don't try to push the hose passed the bends, or you could damage the hose.

Try a Plumbing Snake

If the hose doesn't break the clog, try a plumbing snake. Insert the pointed end of the snake down the spout or in the PVC pipe for underground systems, and push it down until you hit the clog. Don't use an electric snake for a plastic pipe.

Move the snake back and forth to dislodge the clog, and pull the snake out of the downspout. Connect the hose to the top of the downspout and run water on full power down the spout.

If the water runs freely, the clog has been removed. Repeat the process as needed. Pipes that cannot be cleared with a snake will need to be replaced.

Disconnect the Downspout

If a snake didn't work, remove the downspout to locate the clog. Use the screwdriver to detach the screws at the bends. Clean the debris with tongs or a spatula, and rinse the sections with a hose before you reconnect them. Consider installing a gutter leaf guard to prevent clogs, and routinely clean gutters. 

For more information, contact Mr.Gutter, LLC or a similar company.