How To Clean Downspouts

Your gutter system’s downspouts are some of its most important components. They are responsible for directing the water away from the roof and the foundation and if they get clogged, you could end up with serious water damage. Unfortunately, because the downspouts are very long and closed-off, unlike the gutters themselves, they can accumulate debris easily and you might not notice it. Knowing how to clean downspouts can help you keep your home safe and free of damage in the rainy seasons. 

Safety Notes 

Cleaning your downspouts is a very easy job and can usually be done in about an hour. However, it will almost always require you to get on a ladder and your roof. When working with ladders and heights, it is incredibly important that you consider safety. Never get on a ladder without another person to hold it and make sure it is secure. You should also check the ground you are setting the ladder on and see if it is stable and level so the ladder can’t move. When you are on your roof, be aware of your surroundings at all times and stay as far away from the edges as you can. 

Tools and Materials 


  • Ladder 
  • Garden hose
  • Flashlight
  • Leaf Blower


  • Garbage bags
  • Disposable rags

How to Clean Downspouts Instructions

Step 1: Clean Out the Bottom Opening 

The first thing you should do when cleaning your downspouts is clear out the very bottom opening. If your downspouts go into the ground, remove the PVC adapter that connects to the underground pipes. Using your flashlight, look into the bottom opening and see if there is any visible debris. If there is, put on your work gloves and reach up into the downspout to remove as much of it as you can. 

Generally, this debris will be things like leaves, twigs, and dirt that has accumulated from the surrounding trees and foliage. Once you have removed as much of the debris as is possible, dispose of it in garbage bags, and then get your ladder set up on solid, level ground. 

Step 2: Clean Out the Top Opening

Get up on your roof and locate the top opening of your gutter downspout. Using the same method as with the bottom opening, remove any debris that might be blocking the downspout. When performing this step, don’t stay on the ladder, as the movement could cause it to rock back and forth. Make sure that you are on your roof and that you are in a secure area and position. Clear as much of the debris out of the top opening as you can reach and put it in your garbage bag. 

Step 3: Run Water Through the Downspout 

Once you have cleared out both ends of the downspout, you can then test the flow with a garden hose. Run the hose into the top opening and turn the water on. If there is any debris in the middle of the downspout, the water may loosen it and push it out of the bottom opening. If you manage to remove the debris in the middle using the hose and the downspout is flowing freely, the job is done. If not, you will have to move on to the next steps to try and get the middle of the downspout clean. 

Step 4: Tap the Side of the Downspout 

It is possible that running the water through the downspout will partially loosen the stuck debris in the middle. If this is the case, tapping on the side of it may loosen it all the way. Using your gloved hand, make a fist and tap on the side of the downspout several times, moving up and down the entire length. Some debris may fall out of the bottom opening as you move along. Run some more water through the downspout and see if that loosens up what is left. Perform this procedure three to four times to clear out the trapped leaves and dirt. 

Step 5: Use the Leaf Blower 

If you have tried the tapping technique a few times and are still not getting all the debris out of the downspout, you will have to try the leaf blower technique. To do this, use your disposable rags to create a seal around the top opening. It can help to get them damp before you do this to make sure the seal is airtight. 

Then, press the nozzle of a leaf blower to the opening using the rags to direct all the air into the downspout opening. Turn on the leaf blower and push out any remaining debris that might be caught in the middle. This step, combined with the tapping and garden hose techniques, should be enough to remove all the debris and get your downspout flowing freely again. 

When to Contact a Professional

If you try all the above methods and still can’t unclog your downspouts, it is a good idea to call a professional. Gutter technicians will have specialized tools that are specifically designed to clean downspouts and will be able to get the job done quickly and effectively. They will also have harnesses and other gear that will make the job much safer and eliminate any risk that you might take on by getting on your roof to do it yourself. 

A professional can clean your downspouts and make sure that your home is protected and everything is functioning as it should.