How to Prevent Blocked Downpipes and Gutters

Aren’t rain gutters great? They channel the water so it doesn’t pour onto your head when you go through the front door, or erode and stain your walkways.

Of course, once they begin to fill up with leaves and twigs and who knows what, they become virtually useless, don’t they?

In order to get the most from your gutters, you have to keep them clean. Not only the gutters, but the downpipes as well. Those have a tendency to really get clogged and then are a real pain to clean out. You have to unscrew them, take them down and then get all the gunk out – who needs it?

So we thought we’d share a couple of simple but effective tips to help you keep those gutters free of debris and that dirty water from drenching you and turning your sidewalks and driveways green with mold and chlorophyll. These are simple things that anyone can do.

First, let’s start with the most obvious – regularly clean the gutters. If you don’t really have any trees near your home, this might be a once or twice a year process. Just go up on a ladder and do a quick inspection.

However, if you have any trees near the house, you’ll need to be a little more vigilant about scooping out those pesky leaves, sticks and seeds. You’ll find this to be especially true in the fall, when the leaves fall off the trees by the thousands.

Of course, while cleaning is certainly a good idea, it doesn’t totally solve the problem, does it? After all, a bunch of debris still gets into those vertical down pipes and sooner or later, they’ll need some special attention. Is there a solution? Sure there is – install a filtering system.

In the gutter, at the T-intersection where the water flows into the down pipe, you can install any number of commercial or even homemade filters. There are some good products on the market, such as balloon stoppers that allow water and nothing else to flow, as well as a variety of screens and cages. Your local roof and gutter plumber should be able to point you in the right direction.

If you’re especially industrious, you can even make your own filters using such materials as window screening, plastic mesh for fencing and even metal mesh for a more rugged system.

Of course, setting up filters alone doesn’t completely solve the problem either. So if you want to avoid gutter cleaning altogether, you can buy or make a filtering system that fits over the entire open upper surface of your gutters. Now, only water flows in and the leaves and other debris won’t clog up the gutters or down pipes anymore.

Nothing is totally perfect, however. So it’s still a good idea to inspect your gutters once in a while to make sure that no small bits have gotten into them, or that your filters haven’t broken or rotted. A little diligence here saves you a lot of cleaning later.

One final tip – check out the bottom of the down flow pipes too. You know, that angled elbow piece that keeps water from draining right next to the foundation. Make sure that’s free of debris and mud as well.

Don’t have an angled elbow at the bottom of your down pipe? You’d better get a few then. Making sure that water drains away from the foundations is very important. Over time, that rainwater will seep into the ground and can even damage the edges of your home’s foundation causing cracks and other problems. Water is tricky stuff, so make sure it drains properly!

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