Why Are My Downspouts Not Working?

The downspout is the part of your home’s guttering system that collects the rain water from your roof and diverts it away from your home. When downspouts work, they are highly effective in preventing rain water from entering the crawlspace or basement of your home. When they aren’t functioning properly, water can pool around your home to eventually seep into a basement area.

If your downspouts aren’t doing the job of diverting water away from your home during a rainstorm, here are a few things to check.

Is it clogged? Leaves, twigs, and even bird nests can all create clogs in a down spout. Start by clearing out the debris around the base of the downspout using a wire hanger. If the clog is too high to reach, grab a ladder and a hose to flush out the downspout from above. What I do is feed the hose down the spout until the blockage breaks loose, and then flush water through the downspout until the water runs clear. Be sure to have a helper with this task to avoid an accidental fall.

Was it properly installed? During the building booms of the 90s and later, some gutter installation crews “cheaped out” when it came to installing gutters. Instead of installing a drop outlet, they merely punched an X-shaped hole into the gutter and attached the downspout to that. If your downspouts clog frequently due to improper installation, replacing these connections with proper outlets and larger downspouts will solve the problem.

Is it connected? Occasionally a downspout will disconnect from the rain gutter. When this happens, all that’s required is to push the spout back onto drop outlet of the rain gutter. Once the downspout has been reattached, double check that there’s a downspout bracket holding it in place. If there isn’t one, this easy DIY repair will prevent the downspout from disconnecting again.

Is there a splash block? Splash blocks are green or grey sloped trays that tuck beneath the drain part of the downspout to carry water away from the foundation. Because these cost $10 (or more) and are portable, a previous owner may have removed the splash blocks from your home. Replacing the missing splash blocks help direct rainwater away from the foundation. These are usually set at a 45 degree angle away from the corners of your home.

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