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Unclog Your Underground Downspout Drainage System

Locate the Clog

The first thing you need to do in order to fix a clogged underground drain system is to find out the location of the clog. This can be difficult because most of the time all you can see is water flowing off the gutter or bubbling at the bottom of the downspout where it goes into an underground drain. Usually, you will see bubbling at the foundation wall where the underground drain connects to the downspout.

Clogged Underground Drain Causing Rotten Wood

Clogs are normally found at transitional points and you may find a clog where the gutter extends or at the elbows. Couplers can also be where clogging occurs because sometimes incompatible materials are used. If the person who installed your gutter system used one long screw to connect the downspout instead of two or three smaller ones, the screw could be catching debris and causing the gutter system to clog up. If this is your problem you can just use two smaller screws to resolve the issue.

How to Unclog Underground Drain

Since most clogs are at transition points and elbows, you may be able to unclog the gutter by hand. Disconnect the pipe and reach in with your hand while using a rubber glove to remove the clog. There could be insects, mold, leaves, snakes, and other harmful items in your gutters so you want to make sure you are protected. It is recommended that you only reach in up to two feet before resorting to other tools to clear a clogged gutter system.

Using a jet stream from a hose pipe can help remove clogging and clean out your gutter. The high pressure water will usually works as slow moving water flowing through the gutter is actually one of the things that cause the clog to begin with 

Can Clogged Gutters Damage My Roof?

Clogged Underground Drain from Pine NeedlesClogged underground drain systems can cause water to overflow in your gutter and eventually rot the fascia board behind your gutter. If the gutters are clogged enough, the weight of the debris can cause the gutter to pull away from the fascia board which also causes damage.

Between water overflowing and the weight of debris weakening your fascia board, the wood behind your gutter can rot and cause serious leaks. When the wood gets wet it also attracts termites and other insects that thrive in a wet soggy environment.

Conversely, a dirty or damaged roof can also cause your gutters to be clogged. Mold, mildew, algae, and other organic material can grow on your roof, around the fascia boards, and in your gutters. If this occurs, you may need to call an exterior cleaning company experienced with the right chemicals and solutions to solve the problem. When one of our customers has this type of issue, we typically partner with Apex Exterior Washing. They are able to eliminate the organic material from the roof completely.

What Items Besides Leaves Can Clog a Gutter?

Any item that can fit inside the gutter could potentially lead to a clog. It is possible that if there is a small clog, unusual items going inside the gutter could end up causing a complete clog. If the screws holding the downspout to the underground drain are too long or screwed in too far it may not cause a clog by itself, but it could result in eventual clogging.Bird Nest Clogging Gutter System

For example, if another item such as a golf ball or child’s toy makes their way into the downspout, the screws can block them and then items that would normally pass through will get blocked. Mice, rats, possums, frogs, snakes and many other organisms may invade your gutter and cause it to clog. Birds may also decide to build a nest there.

What if I Can’t Fix My Clogged Underground Drain?

If you can’t fix your clogged underground drain system yourself, there may be deeper issues. Call a professional to help remove clogging if it is too deep for you to reach in with your hand or the high pressure hose pipe doesn’t work. A professional will have tools that can be inserted into downspouts and underground drains to remove any clogging or items that are blocking your water flow.

If a professional is unable to remove the clogging you may need to have your gutter system replaced entirely. Some of the clogging may be due to the type of material used to construct your gutter system so if you have to have it replaced, keep that in mind. 

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2 comments on “How to Fix Your Clogged Underground Drain System

  1. Excellent description of the problems that can cause a clogged underground drain.
    Good possibilities also for solutions to each stage of the blockage.
    Thanks for good advice, Blue River Gutters!

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