Rainwater Collection Essential: Gutter, Downspout Cleaning Steps

The proper cleaning of the gutter and downspout of your house isn’t just to ensure that the exterior part of your house looks nice. Proper cleaning of both gutter and downspout also help prevent the rotting of wood and failure at the body and fascia boards of your house by ensuring the proper water flow from roof to gutter, gutter to downspout, and downspout to drain or a number of rain water tanks situated below.

Rainwater Collection

Both gutter and downspout are important parts of a house rainwater harvesting system, and if they are filled with fallen leaves, twigs, and bird droppings, rainwater collected will be filled with so many impurities that it will need to pass so many filters before it becomes safe for use in household chores.

Usually, the best times to check and clean both gutters and downspouts are the later parts of spring and fall. However, in the case of a home that has a rainwater harvesting or collection system, the checking and cleaning of its gutter(s) and downspout(s) should be done more often.

The process, as a whole, is easy. Here are the steps to properly clean gutters and downspouts.


1. Get your tools and choose a starting area.

Gather all the supplies and equipment you need and bring them to your starting area. Any corner of your house is a great starting location since downspouts are usually located in house corners. From the corner (downspout), you need to work away to prevent the push of more debris down the spout.

Once you have brought in all needed equipment and supplies, set your ladder on a level spot. If you want to use a bucket to collect debris, this is the best time to attach it to the ladder. If you do not want to use the bucket, secure a rubbish bag to the ladder. Next, put on work gloves, particularly a thick pair of work gloves, which can protect the hands from sharp objects and debris in gutters and downspouts.

2. Remove all large debris.

Use a hand spade or garden trowel to scoop out large debris starting from the section of gutter that is closest to the downspout. Place these debris in the bucket or rubbish bag. In case you encounter large pieces that cannot be scooped up easily, carefully remove them by hand. If planning to dispose debris in a compost pile, make sure that you have a separate rubbish bag for items like nails.

3. Rinse the gutter.

Once all large debris have been removed, get the hose and use it to spray the gutter with water. Rinse to the direction of the downspout until no sign of debris remains.

4. Clear blockages.

A blocked downspout should be cleared. There are three ways to clear a blocked downspout, and you can try each of these options until you know which one works.

The first option is to use the hose spray attachment to direct water to the downspout from its lower end. The second option is to use the same hose spray attachment to direct water to the downspout from its upper end. If neither option works, work a plumbing snake deep into the downspout to loosen and break debris so they can easily be flushed with water.

All debris should then be disposed. Biodegradable ones like leaves and twigs can be placed in a compost pit. Non-biodegradable debris must be tossed down the rubbish bin.

Check if you have successfully cleared the downspout by running water down it. Go up the ladder until you get to the roof, bringing a length of hose with you, then run water down the downspout. You can catch the water you ran down the downspout with a barrel or pail to find out for yourself if there are debris still present in the pipe, and if there are, make sure to remove them with water right away.

Hire professional assistance in case you find stubborn blockages.

5. Bonus Step: Look for and repair damage.

Now that both gutters and downspouts are clean, check them for damage. Some signs of damage to check include dents, cracks, and holes. If any of these signs are discovered, make sure they are repaired at the soonest time possible.

6. Bonus Step: Have guards or protectors set up on the gutters.

Numerous areas sell gutter and downspout accessories, all of which help in lessening the time required to do the task of gutter and downspout cleaning. One accessory you can purchase is a protector. These deflect debris, such as leaves, from gutters. When buying one, make sure to buy a model that you can easily remove when cleaning.



Rainwater harvesting is a practice that sounds simple on paper, but is actually quite complicated. The steps involved in the setting up of the system are probably as numerous as the steps involved in its maintenance. There really is almost zero room for error. A dirty gutter and downspout causes rainwater collected to be filled with numerous impurities.

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