“A stitch in time saves nine.” This is a very old saying, but it has its importance in practically every field. Let us look at an activity as basic as gutter cleaning. If you do not do it on time, you run a risk of spending hundreds of dollars on unnecessary repairs. This article can go a long way in saving this expense for you. We take you through the process of unclogging a downspout from the ground.
Prudence says that you clean the gutters as frequently as possible. Debris like twigs, leaves, animal droppings, and the like can clog your gutter system. In addition to defacing the landscape, you are inviting unwanted health problems into your house. These simple steps can help you clean a downspout efficiently.
Know When You Have a Clogged Gutter:
You have a clogged gutter to deal with when you observe the following events. We shall break this down into two parts. The first part deals with identifying a clogged gutter when it is raining.
- Spilling of water over the edges of your gutter
- Spraying of water from gutter seams and elbow joints
- Inability of water to flow from the bottom of downspout extensions
These telltale signs help you to identify a clogged drain / gutter when it is not raining.
- Erosion of earth directly below a gutter line
- Peeling of paint on fascia
- Moist and dirty siding beneath your gutter line
- Pulling away of gutters from the fascia because of excess weight
Identify the Clogged Areas:
- Clogging can take place at the areas around the downspout cage. The downspout cage is a wire strainer located at the spot where the gutter meets the downspout. The function of the strainer is to trap the debris and prevent it from flowing into the drain. This strainer can get bent or shift of place.
- Often you see gutter hangers and spikes slipping free from the fascia. This obstructs the flow of water as such hangers can catch dry leaves and twigs.
- Tapping the downspout with a screwdriver can help you gauge the clogs in the downspout elbows and seams. If you get a dull thudding sound, there is a clog. A clean downspout will give you a hollow sound.
- The clogging can also occur below the ground level in an underground pipe. You might have to seek professional help under such circumstances.
The Process of Unclogging:
Once the identification is over, you can proceed to unclog the gutter / downspout. There are two ways of doing it. One is from the top. In case of a defective strainer or gutter hangers slipping out, you have to clean it from the top. That should not be a tough job once you locate the clog.
The problem arises if there is a clogging inside the downspout either at the elbows or the seams.
- You can try out this procedure from the top. Use a plumbing snake or a pressure washer to flush water into the downspout at great speed. The clog should clear off. In case it is a stubborn one, you have to disassemble the downspout and remove the clog.
- From the ground level, you can try out the following procedure. Remove the downspout at the place it enters the ground. Use a plumbing snake to force water at great pressure up the downspout. You can dislodge the clogs in this manner.
- A handheld auger can help you unclog the downspout from the ground level. You get these augers at hardware shops for as little as $30. Observe the requisite safety norms such as wearing eye protectors and gloves.
- Insert the auger from the bottom downspout by locking the cable and turning the drum in a clockwise direction.
- Unlock the cable and feed the cable so that the tip of the auger passes through the blockages.
- The auger tip can help in unclogging the blockages. Pull the auger cable back. You might need to do this exercise multiple times to clear stubborn blocks.
- Insert the garden hose and turn on the water. A pressure washer would be a better bet. Stubborn debris might even require a sewer jetter.
This can help in unclogging most of the downspout blockages. In case of very stubborn debris, seeking professional help is the best way out.
You have just seen that unclogging a downspout is not tough provided you do it regularly. If you allow debris to pile up, you should be ready to shell out the dough to bring the situation under control.