Few people realize it, but rain has the potential to be highly destructive – especially to our homes. Gutter systems are critical in ensuring that the water from the rain is moved from off the roof and away from the home and relocated out so that the structural integrity of the building is optimized. Downspouts are a critical component to the home’s gutter system. These actually carry the water down and away from your home.

Over time, though, natural debris may become lodged within these downspouts (often referred to as “leaders”), which will compromise the functionality of your gutter system. In turn, this will compromise the structural integrity of your home. If you are reading this, it is likely that you have an issue. Continue reading to learn how to fix a clogged downspout.


How Does a Downspout Work?

During rains, water will pool on the roof. If it is allowed to pool at high amounts, it becomes exceptionally heavy and may result in damage. The gutter system of the home utilizes an entire network of specially-designed tubes and downspouts to direct or funnel the water that collects on the roof to the ground and out.

Downspouts are typically connected to the fascia and bracketed to the exterior walls of the home. Elbow joints are located at the bottom to move water away from the foundation of the home. If on top of the ground, the water is moved away only a short distance. If buried underground, the water is moved further out.

What are the Signs That Downspouts are Clogged?

In most instances, the first sign of a clogged downspout is identifying water in an area where it should not be located. The following outlines other signs that a clog may be occurring in either above-ground or below-ground downspouts:

  1. Spill-Over – During rain, take a look at the edge of your gutter system. Do you see water spilling over? If so, there is likely a clog. The water from the rain should be going into the downspout and moving away from your home. If there is spill-over, it indicates that it is being blocked and becoming trapped inside.
  2. No Drainage – If you have above-ground downspouts, you should notice water running down and out of them when it is raining outside. If you do not, it indicates that something is blocking the water from getting through.
  3. Sagging/Collapsing – Is your gutter system starting to sag or collapse? If so, this is an indication that it is holding too much water. Not only can this result in clogged downspouts, it could cause damage to the roof and the exterior walls of your home as the gutter system starts to buckle under the weight. In most instances, this is caused by a clog in the downspouts. While it may also be a direct result of an aging system, the most common reason is that something is creating a blockage within the system.
  4. Flooding in the Basement – Gutter systems are designed to move water away from the base of the home and prevent the accumulation of water in that area and that of the basement. If you start to experience flooding within the basement, it is likely that you have blocked downspouts. You should remedy this as quickly as possible. Not only is a basement flood costly, it could prove to be very destructive. Additionally, if water is pooling that much, it could destroy your foundation.
  5. Downspout Connection Pooling – If you have an underground downspout system, look at the area by your downspout connection this is situated near the ground. If you see that water is pooling or that water is overflowing from this area, you have a clog. In some instances, water will spill over a tad during rains with no clog, but you should observe the area after it rains. If water is standing or if you notice water stains on the ground surrounding the area, a clog is the likely culprit.
  6. Exit Obstruction – If you have underground downspouts, you may have a visible exit point for that. Many do not. In some instances, it flows right into a sewer system. If you do have an exit pipe, though, check it. Is it obstructed? Is the area surrounding it dry? If water is not flowing properly from this location, it is quite likely that you do have a clog within the downspouts of your home’s gutter system.

How to Check for Downspout Clogs and Determine the Source of the Issue

Once you have determined that a clog is to blame for the issues that you are experiencing with your gutter system, it is time to identify where the clog is and take the steps that are necessary to fix it. The following steps will assist you with this endeavor:

  1. First, conduct a complete inspection of the drains of your downspouts around the home to see if there are any clogs.
  2. Take a ladder that reaches the gutter area and inspect those areas for lodged debris. If you observe any, safely remove it.
  3. If you have a strainer unit on your downspouts, remove each of them and clear out anything that has become lodged inside.
  4. Disconnect the elbow joint of your downspouts and check for obstructions. If any are found, remove them immediately and reconnect the elbow joint.
  5. Next, take a water hose and run water down your downspouts. Not only will this let you see if your system is working properly, it will help you identify any downspout that has an issue.
  6. If you must continue the process because you still have an issue, you may attempt to clear the downspout with a plumbing snake or a hose that emits water at very high pressure.


Checking for blockages within the downspouts and the gutter system as a whole is potentially dangerous. This is especially true when you must climb a ladder, potentially utilize water, and clean out debris.

Unless you are a professional, it is best to contact a gutter system specialist to determine if there is an issue with your gutter system or a clog in your downspouts. If you need assistance immediately, we here at Reynolds Plumbing can assist you. Simply contact us now by calling: 765-966-0994

How to Prevent Future Clogs

A clog in your gutter system is a challenging and potentially costly issue that could result in massive amounts of damage to your home. Once you have experienced it, you will never want to experience it again.

The good news is, there are some steps that may be taken to prevent future clogs.

These include utilizing gutter screen systems, gutter inserts, and reverse curves that attach directly above the gutter unit. Any item that guards the system and only allows for the intake of water is the way to go. Not only will these help in preventing future clogs, they will make your gutter system virtually maintenance-free!

Contact Us Today

As stated previously, we here at Reynolds Plumbing can assist you with gutter system complications. It does not matter if you have above-ground downspouts or below-ground downspouts. The goal is to get the system in proper working order so that it does not jeopardize the structural integrity of your home. We are open Monday through Friday from 7:30am to 3:30pm. Additionally, we offer emergency services after hours. We will provide you with a free estimate and work to correct your issue as quickly as possible. For more information, contact us now at: 765-966-0994

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