Gutters and downspouts maintain the good condition of our property by protecting it from rain water. Gutter downspouts need regular cleaning too and their proper maintenance shouldn’t be neglected.
The sight of colorful leaves is beautiful thing in the fall months. But they are not good for our gutters and downspouts. Leaves are probably the main cause of downspout clogs. When left uncleaned they can cause serious damage to the structure of our property.
Debris blockages don’t let rain water to travel freely in the downspouts and they shorten the life of the downspouts and the gutters as well. That is why we should not skip regular downspout cleaning.
Gutter downspouts can be also blocked by different debris, sticks, pine needles, bird nests. As you know they accumulate over time and clog the gutter lines of our building. That is why we should clean at least twice a year the gutters and downspouts of our property.
Gutter downspouts are an important part of the roofing system of a building. Sometimes gutter debris is easily cleaned when it’s dry and loose. Downspouts can be easily cleaned when the contents inside the gutters and the downspouts are wet.
Before starting to clean your downspouts you first need to remove their horizontal extension pipes if they have one. To clean your downspouts you need to climb on the roof of your building. This requires you to take safety measures and besides cleaning equipment such as tools and materials you need to get safety gear too.
What you need to clean clogged downspouts?
The first main thing you need is a solid extension ladder that reaches the top opening of your gutters. Borrow a ladder if you don’t have one. If you can, try to clean from the ladder without stepping on the roof.
As you are going to move it often during the downspouts cleaning task, chose a ladder that is easy to carry around or call someone to come and help you lifting it.
An extension ladder is a good choice when we work along the roof’s edge. If your property is two-story then you should use such a ladder. If you have a single-story building then a tall step ladder will be enough. Never climb above the top level of the ladder.
Downspout cleaning can hurt your hands so it’s recommended to wear thick gloves. They should be made of suede if possible.
Choose a hose that extends easily to the location of your gutters.
Avoid bad weather to clean your downspouts. Wait until the weather is fine and start your work.
Any standard size bucket that you can carry easy will do the job. You can use a plastic bucket with a metal handle. One clever trick to use this bucket easily for your downspout cleaning is to make its handle into hooks.
You need to cut the center of the handle into two and bend the ends of the handle to shape the into hooks. Hook the bucket on the edge of your gutter line.Then you just need to scrape the debris out of the gutter and dump it into the bucket. This saves you the effort to go up and down throwing the scraped debris but you should still empty the bucket at some moment so you should better get a large bucket.
Garden trowel/spade/kitchen spatula
If you don’t have bucket available you can use plastic bags for the gutter debris instead.
You can easily clean the debris in the downspouts debris by scooping it and throwing it onto a tarp or drop cloth placed on the ground below. As the name suggests this method is called scoop and drop and it’s really easy for doing. You just need to move the drop cloth/tarp as you move the ladder during the gutter cleaning. When the drop cloth gets full, you can throw the contents into a trash bag or compost bin.
Working on a ladder is truly dangerous especially for people who aren’t used to heights and don’t have much experience in cleaning gutters and downspouts. If you aren’t sure that you can manage to clean the downspouts of your property by yourself then you should contact a professionals window cleaning company.
The companies specialized in gutter and downspout cleaning services own special equipment that allows them to clean quickly and efficiently. They will save you precious time , effort and save you the risk of damaging your health or your property’s structure.
Cleaning the downspouts
The idea is to unclog the downspouts from all the debris that have collected inside. The best way to do this is to rinse them.
Cleaning the bottom downspout opening
Cleaning downspouts isn’t a process that is too complex. Get your garden hose and climb up the ladder to the top opening of the downspouts you want to clean. Tell someone to turn on the water of the hose and when they do this you should direct the water to the inside of the downspout. Rinse it carefully.
Rinsing with a hose
See how water pours down the downspout. If it pours freely from the bottom bringing debris with itself, then your cleaning is successful. But if the water doesn’t freely flow through the gutter, this means that there is a clog inside and it needs to be removed. Clogs are most often made of leaves and twigs.
One way to clean downspout clogs is to gently tap on the side of the clogged downspout. Knock lightly the downspout at different spots in order to loosen any remaining debris blockage inside. You should do this on the ladder and tap all the way along the downspout length. Take the garden hose again and rinse the downspout with it by inserting it in the downspout opening.
Using a power tool
Power tools such as power wash machines, dry/wet vacuum cleaners, leaf blowers come really handy when it comes to cleaning debris clogs from gutter downspouts.
These can remove even the most stubborn debris inside gutters and downspouts. Place the power tool you have at the top opening of the downspout and turn it on. Use this level of water pressure which you think is needed to loosen the accumulated debris.
Making a seal
Now you should make a seal inside the downspout. For this purpose you need a towel or a rag. Put it on the top of the downspout. Then get the garden hose and insert it into the opening. Place it around the hose in the opening and make sure to wrap it in a tight way.
Ask someone to turn on the water and maintain high water pressure. Now you should check what is going on with the bottom part of the downspout. This seal should be able to remove the debris blockage out from the bottom opening of the downspout.
If there isn’t anything going out of the downspout, then you can use a plumbing snake. Insert it from the opening of the downspout and stop when it hits the debris clogged spot. It’s most often located at the bottom curve of the downspout.
Using a handheld auger
Before using this tool make sure to get gloves and goggles first to ensure your safety. Insert the auger in the bottom or the top opening of the downspout .Then you should turn the drum in clockwise direction.
Let the auger go all the way through. And then pull back the cable. You may need to repeat this step a couple of times to remove all the debris accumulation.
Cleaning the bottom opening of the downspouts
To do this you need to remove first the downspout extension. This step is important if you have a downspout that is connected to an underground drain. Without doing this you risk pushing the debris clog further down in your attempt to clean it.
- Put your gloves on and get a garden trowel
- Insert it in the downspout opening
- Clean all the leaves and debris you can reach
- Then get the garden hose and rinse the downspout extension to dislocate the debris blockage inside
- After you remove the downspout debris, rinse the downspouts for one last time to check if the water flowing out of the bottom downspout has no debris in it
- Let the water flow for several minutes
- If there aren’t any traces of debris, then your job is complete
- It will be easy for you to work in short sections of the downspout lines and avoid overreaching
- While cleaning keep you posture upright and don’t lean too far away from the ladder
- Clean only the spots that you can easily reach and if you can’t, this means it’s time to move the ladder a bit
If you don’t have the needed tools, safety gear and also the experience in cleaning gutters and downspout, don’t hesitate to research professional help. Companies specialized in gutter cleaning services also perform downspouts cleaning and they can clean your gutter and downspout system quickly and in an expert way.
As they already own professional equipment, you don’t need to invest in such equipment unless you are doing it by yourself. Remember that gutter and downspout cleaning is a task which brings its risks and isn’t easy. You can either hurt yourself while doing it or damage some part of your property.
So if you are unsure in your ability to do your downspout cleaning without any help you should trust the professionals because they certainly know what they are doing.