Repairing, Draining and Cleaning Your Downspouts and Gutters

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Jan 01, 2011 | Sirena Rubinoff
Cleaning the gutters

Photo credit: Gutter Stuff

Your home’s downspouts and gutters are a very important part of your roof drainage system. Regular cleaning and maintenance will ensure that your gutter and downspout will function properly when wet weather hits your area. You can also double or even triple the life of your downspouts and gutters and save money on repair costs by doing routine check-ups yourself.

Cleaning Your Downspouts and Gutters

You should plan to inspect and clean your downspouts and gutters twice a year -- once before the fall rains and again before the spring rains. Check to see if leaves, tree branches or other debris have ended up inside your downspouts and gutters. Use gutter-cleaning tools or a small whisk broom or paintbrush to sweep everything to one side of the gutter; then scoop up the debris and throw it away.

Next, use a plumber’s or electrician’s snake to clean any obstructions out of the downspout. If your downspouts and gutters have a tendency to clog or back up, you should consider installing leaf strainers in all downspout outlets. These strainers are relatively inexpensive, are easy to install and will prevent leaves and other debris from getting in the downspout and clogging your drainage system.

Maintaining Proper Draining in Your Downspouts and Gutters

In order for your downspouts and gutters to drain properly, they must be set at a pitch of about 1/16 inch for every inch of guttering. You can test your downspouts and gutters to see if the drainage is functioning well by pouring in a bucket of water and observing the flow. If it flows out smoothly, your downspouts and gutters have passed the test.

However, if you notice water pooling in certain parts of your gutters, this means you have low spots that could cause trouble during heavy precipitation. These problem areas usually can be fixed by simply bending the hanger that supports the gutter. If that doesn’t work, add extra hangers to remove high or low spots in your downspouts and gutters. Just be sure to use hangers that match the ones already in use. If you need help, contact a roof professional.

Repairing Your Downspouts and Gutters

You can easily repair small leaks and rust spots on your downspouts and gutters. Start by scraping off all the rust with a steel brush. Next, cover the problem area with a coat of rust treatment or rust-inhibiting paint and allow it to dry completely.

To fix small holes, paint on a thick layer (1/8 inch) of plastic cement specifically made for gutter or roofing repairs. Be sure to let it dry thoroughly and then test your repair with a bucket of water to make sure the leak has been stopped. For large holes, it’s usually best to replace that section of downspout or gutter with a new piece.

The standard recommendation is to check your downspouts and gutters at least twice a year, but if you live in an area that receives a lot of precipitation, use your best judgment to determine how much more frequently your roof drainage system will require attention. Good luck!

Updated October 16, 2018.

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