Clogged Downspout: How to Unclog a Gutter Downspout?

Unclogged downspout draining water

Gutter Maintenance: How to Unclog a Downspout 

We often think of cleaning gutters with the falling leaves in autumn, but to prevent damage to the foundation of your home, you may need to clean your gutters throughout the year. When you procrastinate gutter cleaning, you could have clogged downspouts on your hands that can cause damage to your home. Don’t fret—with these tips from Mr. Handyman®, you’ll learn how to unclog gutter downspouts safely. To avoid stubborn clogs in the first place, it's best to have someone clean them or clean them yourself regularly. 

Can I Learn How to Unclog My Downspout Without Professional Help?

Although unclogging a downspout is straightforward, it can be a dangerous task that requires climbing ladders and awkward positions. This can be difficult for anyone, particularly if you’re afraid of heights or have other physical limitations. A ladder, a second set of hands, and the right tools and gear are essential requirements to unclog your downspout. For improved safety, we advise professional repairs or maintenance from your local Mr. Handyman backed by the Neighborly Neighborly Done Right Promise™

What Tools Do I Need for Gutter and Downspout Cleaning?

Your water hose is your main tool when learning how to unclog a downspout. You need a spray nozzle that you can adjust to generate the most water force. Here's what else you'll need to safely remove a clog in your downspout:

  • Sturdy extension ladder.
  • Thick suede gloves (to avoid cuts).
  • Garden trowel.
  • Hand auger.
  • Protective eyewear.
  • A helper to assist with safety.

Gather your downspout cleaning tools and your helper and start to find and remove the clog from the ground up. 

How to Unclog Your Downspout

  1. Remove the downspout extension to expose the bottom opening. You may have to remove a small screw or two to get the extension off the downspout. This is especially important if the downspout is connected to an underground drain. When a downspout clog is below grade, efforts to remove it may make things worse, and excavation may be required. If in doubt, contact a professional to evaluate the situation before you do anything that could lead to more damage.
  2. With your gloves and eye protection on, insert a garden trowel into the downspout and remove any leaves or debris you can reach. Rinse the downspout extension with your water hose to dislodge the remaining debris. Spray water up and into the gutter near the top opening to ensure the water flows freely out the bottom. 
  3. If the downspout is still clogged, it's time to climb up and look. Have your helper hold the ladder steady while you climb, and then ask them to hand you the hose. If you have to climb higher than the person holding the ladder can reach, tie a small piece of cord or rope to the end of the hose and bring the cord/rope up with you as you climb the ladder. Once you reach the height you need, pull the hose up by the cord/rope you attached. This ensures your ‘holder’ stays focused on securing the ladder. 
  4. Once you have the hose in place, turn it to the most powerful setting (a narrow spray usually works best) and put the sprayer into the downspout's top opening. If water flows out of the bottom carrying debris and then flows clear, your job is complete. 
  5. Most downspout clogs loosen with enough water pressure, but sometimes additional steps are required. As you descend from the roof, come down the ladder one rung at a time, gently knocking on the side of the downspout as you go. Then, climb back up and try rinsing the downspout with your garden hose again. The gentle knocking may help dislodge an area of the downspout that is still clogged with debris.  
  6. You can also try a handheld auger. Wearing gloves and eye protection, feed the auger into the top or bottom downspout opening and turn the drum clockwise. Once it’s all the way through, pull the cable back. You may need to do this several times to remove a stubborn clog.
  7. When the gutter downspout is clean, remove any other leaves and debris so the water can flow freely once it hits ground level. If you don't already have them, put splash guards at the bottom of your downspouts. Splash guards help direct the water away from your home's foundation and keep those downspouts flowing. Contact a professional with questions about adding splash guards to your gutters.

How Often Should I Clean Gutters and Downspouts?

If there aren't many trees around your house, cleaning your gutters and downspouts annually might be enough. However, we advise that you climb up and check your gutters every six months to clean and inspect them. Conducting semi-annual inspections can reveal potential issues such as torn shingles, clogged, or loose gutters. 

The best times to inspect and clean gutters are fall and spring. Clean your gutters and inspect them in the fall because of the obvious: the continuous stream of falling leaves and other debris. While you're up there, check the shingles, chimney flashing, and other areas to ensure your home is ready for the weather ahead. Spring is ideal for inspecting and cleaning your gutters because of the typical increase in rain. You can also check for any wear and tear from the winter weather and have any issues repaired before they create a bigger problem.

Clean Your Clogged Gutter Downspouts Today With Mr. Handyman!

Even with these tips, cleaning your gutters and downspouts is still a chore you likely dread each time you have to do it. Don’t do it alone, especially if you lack the time or physical ability to safely clean the gutters by yourself. Instead, trust your local Mr. Handyman for all your exterior maintenance, cleaning, and repairs.

When you hire Mr. Handyman to clean your gutters and downspouts, you get a professional with an average of 10 years of experience. You also get the Done Right Promise™ for your peace of mind. Need reliable, trustworthy help to complete your home projects? Find your personal handyman when you contact us online or call your local Mr. Handyman today!