Guttering 101: How To Make Gutters Drain Better

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Among homeowners, a chore that many often miss is gutter maintenance. Most don’t consider it a priority, but it’s actually a vital step in avoiding costly repairs and damage in the long run.  

Over time twigs, leaves and other materials can build up and clog the gutters and downspouts. If you ignore this issue, it could result in water and structural damages. Water that overpours from the gutters can build up in the crawl spaces or basements and damage the foundation. Luckily, there are several ways to ensure that the gutters in your home drain appropriately at all times. 

Regular Cleaning And Maintenance 

As a rule, you must regularly clean the gutters at least twice a year. However, the ideal maintenance schedule will vary depending on where you live. Different climates and landscapes play a role in how often your gutters require cleaning.  

For those who have several trees on their property, you should check the gutters every three months due to the likelihood of frequent debris buildup. As for those who reside in colder climates, you should watch out for freezing conditions allowing the formation of ice dams or leaks.  

Before cleaning the gutters, check the weather. It’s best to wash the gutters before an incoming storm to ensure that they'll function well. Learn more about the different types of guttering hardware in case you need a replacement here

Scoop Out The Debris

Most gutters will end up with debris over time, especially if trees are nearby. Nevertheless, they can still get a blockage even if trees are scarce. The ideal way to ensure that the gutters drain well is to remove the debris manually, allowing water to flow freely.   

Begin at the outlet at the lower section of the gutter. Use a small trowel to remove any debris that may be loose already. This task is easier if the waste is wet and pliable, rather than dry and crusted.  

Flush Out Leftover Debris

After removing any debris buildup, you can flush out the leftover using a hose. You should attach a high-pressure hose nozzle to get enough strength. Be sure to spray back towards the drain outlet. If solid mud and debris are present, use a stiff brush to loosen them.

Clear The Downspouts

It's important to note that debris is likely to block the downspouts, causing the water to gather at the top. You should test to ensure that they’re properly draining. If you suspect a blockage or the water is draining slowly, try flushing them out with a hose from the top.

If this fails to work, use a plumber's auger to loosen and remove the debris from the bottom. You can also use the auger to drive out debris from the top. If all other methods fail, remove a section of the downspout to allow easier access to the blockage.  

Important Considerations 

Aside from cleaning the gutters, there are also several important considerations to ensure proper drainage. 

  • Inspect the gutters regularly for any leaks, snags, or holes. If you spot a leak, you can seal it by caulking around the joint using a gutter sealant. If the gutter seems to sag, it might be due to worn out hardware or a rotting fascia board. If hardware’s the issue, you can simply get replacements. If the cause is the rotting wood, you’ll have to replace the fascia board's rotting portion. 
  • The right pitch is vital; gutters should having at least a quarter-inch of sloping towards the downspout for every 8-10 feet. One way to check whether the gutters have the proper angle or not is to inspect them after a rainstorm. If the guttering does not have the appropriate pitch, you should remove a segment for adjustment. If the pitching is significantly deficient, you should consult a professional for proper reinstallation.
  • If you want to ensure that the gutters drain correctly, the downspouts should extend a few feet away from your house. The objective is to prevent the water from pooling around the foundation. A solution is to link gutter extensions to channel the water away from your home, but make sure that the ground declines from the foundation. If the ground slopes toward your house, or the water builds up as puddles, you’ll need to install an irrigation pipe to shift it further away.


Gutters play an essential role in maintaining the integrity of your house. As part of your regular maintenance routine, you should make sure to check your gutters once in a while. If you've followed the tips to ensure that your gutters drain properly, you can rest assured that they'll remain functional for years to come.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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