How to Unclog Gutters and Clean Downspouts

For rain gutters to work properly, they can’t be clogged up with pine needles and leaves.

It’s easy enough to clean out the gutter itself. But the problem often occurs where the downspout joins the gutter. Elbows in downspouts are the worst culprits.

To unclog gutters and clean downspouts, just make a quick trip to the plumbing section of the home store and buy a plumber’s snake. The flexible metal cable of a plumber’s snake is the best way to clean them out.

Here’s how to unclog gutters with a plumber’s snake:

  • Insert the end of the plumber’s snake in the downspout until it meets resistance.
  • Turn the crank and work it back and forth to loosen the clog.
  • Insert a garden hose in the downspout and turn on the water to flush out any debris.

To prevent downspouts from becoming clogged, install a strainer in the gutter immediately above the outlet to a downspout. The strainer allows rainwater to flow through while gutter debris is stopped where it can be easily cleaned away. Just don’t forget to keep the strainer clean, or else you’re back to square one unclogging the gutters again.

Another tool you can use to prevent clogs is GutterBrush. This cylindrical bottle brush fills the space inside your home’s gutters and lets water flow through while serving as a barrier from debris buildup.

Further Information


  1. Very good advice. With leaves all over the roof during this time of the year, this is a perfect time to inspect your gutters and as you say elbows section of your guttering system.

  2. Thanks, Mike, and you’re right. Late-autumn or early-winter (or whenever the trees are bare) is the right time to clean out your gutters. Many people wait until the spring, but it’s much better to clean out the leaves prior to all the winter snow melt and spring rains. If you wait until spring or summer, the downspouts, elbows and drop outlets are usually already clogged.

  3. Hi what if the down sprout leads into the basement into a trap (not sure if that’s the word) and not outside How can u flush it out with a garden hose? Thank you. Please advice.

  4. Cool!!!! This is great advice. I’ve looked at four or five videos regarding downspout clogs and now I FINALLY see some advice that actually makes sense to me. I am confident that this method will work. I’m going to buy the snake this weekend and then follow through with flushing the clogged downspout.
    Thank You So Much Joe! You’re a Smart Man!



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