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How to Unclog Gutters and Downspouts

Posted by Kevin Leahy on February 06, 2014

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Gutters and downspouts catch rainwater and move it away from your roof. Clogged gutters create a multitude of problems. If leaves and other debris collect in your gutters to the point that water cannot flow freely, the gutter could fall under the pressure and damage your home. Even if the gutter does not cave, built up water could burst through the downspout irregularly and flood the foundation. Use these steps to unclog gutters and downspouts.


  1. Follow your gutter system to find the downspout. The downspout is an extension of the gutter that comes down to the ground.<
  2. Disconnect the downspout from the underground pipe well.Some downspouts are not attached to underground pipes. If your downspout does not appear to feed into anything else, skip this step.
  3. Find the location on your gutter system that is farthest from the downspout.You want to use gravity to your advantage. Gutter systems are constructed so that water is carried slightly downhill toward the downspout. Working from the top down when unclogging a gutter reduces the risk of re-clogging the system.
  4. Place an A-frame ladder close to the peak of the gutter.
  5. Take out as much debris as possible with your hands. Place the debris into a bucket set on top of the ladder.You will encounter leaves, branches, animal and insect nests, mud and even trash in a clogged gutter.
  6. Work along the gutter removing debris. Relocate the ladder as needed.
  7. Return to the top of the gutter. Run water at full pressure from a garden hose down the channel.If the water does not move freely through the gutter, try to find the point at which the water is obstructed and focus on that area.
  8. Disassemble the downspout.Remove the top of the spout from the gutter. Separate the pieces that make up the spout with a screwdriver.
  9. Clear the downspout of debris. Use your hands and water from the hose.
  10. Reassemble the downspout. Fasten it to the gutter.
  11. Pour water from the top of the gutter. Confirm it is no longer clogged.


There are commercial gutter scoops that range in size for removing debris easier.
Adding a pressurized nozzle to your garden hose helps break up mud and debris.
If you aren’t comfortable balancing a bucket on top of the ladder, you can carry a garbage bag and remove debris with one hand or you can throw the debris onto the ground and pick it up when you’re done.


Do not place you ladder on uneven or unstable ground.
Do not lean your ladder against the gutter. Make sure the ladder is leaning on a solid structure. Always wear gloves when handling matter that may be tainted with bacteria or mold.

Things You’ll Need

Garden hose
A-frame ladder
Hose nozzle (optional)
Gutter scoop (optional)
Gutter cleaning brush (optional)


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