Gutters, Drains and Leaf Cleaning for Drainage to Downpouts

Splat-splat-splat, splat-splat-splat, splat-splat-splat. That’s the sound that let me know I was NOT getting good drainage from my gutters to my downspouts. To say I was surprised is an understatement. On this blog I’ve gone through at least two separate SERIES about issues with getting the water from my roof to the city sewer. The first series of articles was about ground level issues where The water was making it down the downspouts but then was clogged at the ground ceramic piping and so just flooded the area instead of making its way to the sewer. Then there was the whole issue of leaves at the top of the downspout. Later I wrote about the gutters when I decided to paint them as I was doing the siding installation. So basically it was only 6 months ago at the start of the winter that I had gutters as clean as a whistle with a nice sound down the aluminum downspouts that gave me a lot of peace of mind.

So we’re supposed to be coming to the end of the “April showers” season but the rain looks like it’s going to be coming right along for at least another 2 weeks. My neighbor knows I tyro do my own work around the house so asked me to come look at his gutters. His problem was that in the front water was spilling out of the gutters as if somebody was pouring the excess water out of a pot of recently cooked pasta. Not good. I told him my theory; which was that the gradual wight of the water had basically bent the gutters outward and he would probably need to either get some new gutter supports or put some shims behind the gutters to tilt them back up. And I left his place feeling pretty satisfied with myself. Oh woe to the smug man. Next day it rained and I figured it was a good chance to see how my own gutters were doing. I was quite shocked to find on both sides of my house rain water was spilling over before even GETTING to the downspouts. Had the weight bent mine too?


I got out the ladder and decided to some dangerous wet climbing WITH my camera. Leaves. I couldn’t believe I had leaves clogging up my works. I had worked during the EARLY part of the Fall cleaning them out, but clearly the late Fall had filled my gutters up again. So now I’m determined to get some kind of gutter protection. There are a few models out there. The easiest way to show you is to build an Amazon showcase that you’ll see below. Or if  you Need a local handy person? Check Service Magic Call them at 877-576-3375

But basically there are these inexpensive guards but the problem with those is that another neighbor of mine has the water just bouncing off and spilling over the house. And I mean a flood of water. So that’s really a house by house situation. I DID see some great gutter protection on This Old House that I really liked. There were basically wire brushes. The water can pass through and the leaves fly over the side. There are also some pretty expense gutter guards which act like a seal. And there’s a VERY good DVD which compares them all too.

So I took a few pictures of the adventure, and it get the leaves out of the downspout took several tools. The first one below is the clog itself. I used a giant kitchen spoon. I used a car jack handle and I used a flexible long piece of metal to push the debris through the S curve of the downspout neck.


But I probably should have gotten this ting from Ace Hardware. Click the picture to see details.

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After I got things cleared out I took a few pics. But you can see above the blockage was solid and no water was getting through.


Downspout Drainage to Sewer Clogged or Leaking Pt4

What? You think I forgot about the home repair stuff. NAHHH. So this piece is about bottom clogs in a downspout, but my to see how I resolved an upper (roof level) downspout clog check out this piece. Anyway, I just got all caught up with the TV programs and comic book stories. But tonight, for your enjoyment, I bring you a fourth installment of the downspout-sewer line job. So let’s begin! As you may recall, if you read parts 1 through 3, I had 2 clogged up downspouts. Or rather junk was both stuck up in the gutter AND the water wasn’t draining out to the sewer once it got to ground level. On one side of the house, there was dirt area I could dig up. But on the other side of the house it was a cement walkway. I was very worried about trying to get to a sewer line under there. The problem was pretty in-your-face though. Since it was winter the downspout had actually become full of ice about 4 feet high. The clogged water had just stuck in there and frozen.


In fact one funny thing that happened was once I took out the connecting screws the rainwater from the gutter was actually gushing out of the screw holes.


Actually that photo above and the one below were taken after it warmed up a little and the ice melted. But if you look down in the gutter, there’s all that water just sitting there.


The first thing, even before any drainage work, was to just clear the damn downspouts. Like I said the gunk in the gutter had been up there I don’t know how long, so it had filled the downspouts too.


Obviously you can prevent a LOT of this if you clean it out early with one of these…

gutter cleaner

OKAAAY! Things are gonna get even uglier from here on out, so brace yourself. This is all the mud, leaves, and assorted debris that were down in the whole. Like I said, this drain hole was surrounded by cement and I REALLY was hoping I wouldn’t have to go down into the ground and pull out a broken pipe.


But again let me show you some of the chunks I was pulling out of that spout!


And here are my main tools; the old wetvac, and the router.


Again, the mud, leaves, vines were down there pretty good. So here you can see it’s clogged up the wetvac hose. And even when I pull it all out you can see that NOTHING is getting through there, certainly not any rainwater.

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But this story DOES have a happy ending. When I was all said and done, and after pulling tons of gunk out of that hole I was finally able to take a garden hose and shoot water down there for a full five minutes and nothing ever backed up. So I had clean water removal finally happening. Next to my hose I left one of the giant rocks I pulled out of that hole. So mud by itself, or leaves by themselves, or even vines might not clog you up. But all that stuff, plus stones, rocks or cement MIXED is a death trap for good water flow! And keep in mind if you need a local handy person– Check Service Magic Call them at 877-576-3375


Downspout Drainage to Sewer Clogged or Leaking Pt3

Ok I admit it. I‘m a slow bastard. This series of photos has been sitting on the camera really for MONTHS and I’m only finally putting them here, in Part 3, today. You know what happened don’t you? The finish to this project came at a busy time, and it was so easy to do I just got to thinking “hey they can probably figure it out on their own…” and blah, blah, blah, I was too lazy to get back over here and upload the pictures and write a few words to go with it. And the WORST part is I still need to do a Part 4 to show what happened to the downspout on the other side of the house because it was a totally different situation. But I PROMISE I’ll do that with the week! All-righty, so where’d we leave off? Right, there was this hole in the ground and a downspout hanging, and I needed some kind of pipe or something to connect to the sewer line.


So the original plan was to go get regular tile/ceramic pipe section as seen in Part 2 of this series to replace the broken one. But here’s the problem; the connecting lip on the pipe wasn’t going to fit. I mean the reason it was broken in the first place was because the underground pipe section was too close to the house, so they had chipped 20 percent of the lip off so that other 80 percent could fit. You may not have this problem so you can probably go to the store and buy a regular replacement pipe. I decided to go another way. I went to Home Depot and I saw 2 things in the gutter department that I could jimmy together to server MY MASTER PLAN! The first thing was a flexible gutter-to-downspout section. And the next thing was a metal connector unit. It occurred to me that I could use this setup to connect the downspout to the sewer pipe underground and the flexibility could allow me to get the 2 parts joined perfectly.


And the pipe underground was almost exactly the right size, but the flexible joiner had this squared off section that did NOT fit inside the hole. I decided to cut it off. And the photo below is NOT how I did it, but I wanted to indicate “cutting” with a photo, so I took this picture. I did think about doing this but, that was wrong kind of blade anyway.


But here’s how easy it was to install. Just stick it in the hole onto the next pipe. As you can see in just one day we had some winter winds blow a bunch of leaves in my cold hole.


I took some waterproof adhesive and applied it to the sewer line pipe in the ground, and you can see that stone that would have gotten in the way of a pipe with a lip too next to the wall (on the left side of the pipe).


Here’s all the pieces connected. I and I know it looks crooked, but I haven’t even put the dirt in there yet. Remember the goal is to get flow from the downspout to the sewer. At the beginning of this project that was NOT happening. The pipes were full of mud and debris and the pipes were so ill-fitting that whatever water did manage to go down the pipes would just seeping into the ground. Once I connect the downspout to the house with one of those metal straps it’ll be straight again.


It had gotten so cold here in Chicago that my wet dirt had FROZEN. And to get it loose I actually had to get a pick to break it up into clumps. And then stick, basically, a bunch of rock shaped dirt back into the hole. I knew that once it warmed up it and got wet it would settle and fill up all the air pockets. And that’s exactly what happened; it got hot for few days, rained, the dirt sunk, and then I had to find some more dirt to fill up the depression.


Ok so here are all the pipes and dirt put back together just like Humpty-Dumpty. And there’s some of my frozen dirt that had to melt before I could put it back in the hole. Oh and one last thing-the flexible replacement “pipe” was only about 7 dollars so it was not only a practical solution to the problem but cheap! And by the way…Need a local handy person? Check Service Magic Call them at 877-576-3375