How to Keep Leaves Out of Downspouts: The Ultimate Guide

Your gutters and downspouts keep your house safe from rainwater by effectively channeling it away from your roof. Most of the time, you wouldn’t even have to think about them until they start getting clogged and stop working altogether.

Leaves and other forms of debris can completely clog your gutters and downspouts, causing them to sag and stop functioning. This can also lead to your roof leaking as the rainwater keeps getting accumulated.

However, you can save yourself a lot of trouble, both in terms of expenses and frustration, if you simply know how to maintain your gutters and downspouts to keep leaves out of them. In this article, we will share exactly how to keep leaves out of your downspouts.

Keeping Leaves Out of Downspouts

Leaves in Gutter

There are several ways you can keep leaves out of downspouts. Some of the handiest ones include:

Get an All-in-One Gutter System

Get the most obvious step out of the way first — replace your existing gutter system with an all-in-one gutter system to keep leaves out of your downspouts. Even though this might be an expensive option, this will be a one-time, permanent solution to all your leaf clogging woes.

Most all-in-one gutter systems come with a gutter fitted with a cap to keep leaves and other debris out of the gutters as well as the downspouts.

Adding a Leaf Catcher

Adding a leaf catcher to your gutter and downspout system ensures that all leaves and debris come down the downspout where you can catch and remove them close to the ground. Keep in mind that you will have to install the leaf catcher with either K-Funnel outlets or 2 ¾ flush mount outlets.

The best part about this method is that, unlike all-in-one gutter systems, you won’t have to redo your entire system. Install it with your existing downspouts, and you can enjoy several years of service with minimal upkeep. You won’t need a ladder either, as leaves and debris near the ground can be removed with bare hands.

Adding a Gutter Guard With Fine Mesh

Fine mesh gutter guards are a sought-after way to keep leaves and other debris out of downspouts. They’re great at catching needles and seeds, even though some small particles can still manage to get through them.

Installation is relatively simple. All you have to do is bend the back and fasten them to the fascia or simply place them under the shingles on your roof. Cleaning the mesh guards is also a breeze — warm air or a brush should be enough.

However, be wary of the material of the guards. It’s recommended to get surgical stainless-steel ones as they last the longest.

Adding Surface Tension Guards

To ensure surface tension guards work best, always install them by matching the slope of the guard to the slope of your roof. With surface tension guards, the water first clings to the rounded nose of the guard before flowing into the gutter.

At the same time, leaves and other debris simply fall over the edge onto the ground. Even though the guards offer effective protection, keep in mind that they are more conspicuous than other similar options.

Adding Gutter Screens

The good news is that there’s a wide variety of gutter screens in terms of types and brands available on the market. So, you can make an informed choice as far as simplifying the process of cleaning your gutter is concerned.

Plastic drop-in screens have several benefits that you should consider. First, they are easier to install than other types. The next benefit is their usability with a wide array of different roofing materials. That said, you must account for the caveats as well.

Even though plastic gutter screens are pretty effective at keeping leaves out of your downspout, they’re vulnerable to smaller debris like pine needles and seeds that can still find their way into your gutters.

Trimming Your Trees Regularly

This is a bit more preventive than other measures and can save you from making cost-intensive upgrades. Regularly keeping your trees trimmed is a great way to keep leaves out of your downspouts, especially if you have a lot of trees on your property.

Sure, it doesn’t ensure completely leaf-free downspouts, but trimming the branches that hang over your gutter system is a great way to minimize the number of leaves you end up cleaning.

Installing Self-Cleaning Rain Gutter Outlets

Another great product that simplifies the overall maintenance of your gutter and downspout system is self-cleaning rain gutter outlets. These gutter outlets are designed with substantially larger openings. As a result, even if other parts of the gutter are clogged, the water still runs down the downspouts. This is especially helpful if you have relatively smaller rain gutter outlets installed.

What’s more, they come fitted with removable downspouts, so you can effortlessly check the outlets without ever needing to climb a ladder. This makes these gutters surprisingly easy to keep clean at all times.

You also eliminate the costs associated with hiring professional cleaning help fairly regularly, as removable spouts mean no balance concerns or fear of heights. These systems also offer unmatched flexibility in terms of compatibility. You can seamlessly add them as a new system or retrofit them with your existing roof gutter system, depending on what your needs are.

You are perfectly capable of taking care of the installation yourself as the instructions are quite easy to follow. That said, if you’re still unsure, your local gutter installation company will do the job for you.

More Facts About Self-Cleaning Rain Gutter Outlet Systems

Rain Gutter Cleaning from leaves in autumn with hand

Some other interesting facts about self-cleaning rain gutter outlet systems are:

  • You don’t need to worry about your downspout configuration, as most systems are compatible with multiple downspout types. This includes underground pipes and A elbow and B elbow types.
  • For a 5-inch and 6-inch K-style gutter, 3-inch x 4-inch type downspouts are recommended. However, these systems can work with both 2-inch x 3-inch and 3-inch x 4-inch downspout types.
  • Most of these systems are fitted with a removable downspout clip and a large outlet. This enables retrofitting with older existing gutter systems or even seamlessly blending in with new gutter systems.
  • One of the main benefits of these systems is the significant mitigation of maintenance-related stress on your end. These gutter systems will work flawlessly even if several other parts of the system remain clogged. Just make sure to keep the outlets free of debris.
  • If you want to learn how these systems simplify the convoluted process of cleaning your gutters or want to know more about leaf reduction in your gutter and downspouts, connecting with your nearest provider is a great option.

How to Perform Regular Gutter Maintenance

Perhaps the most important thing that keeps your gutters and downspouts working properly for years is regular maintenance. You need to ensure that the entire system is regularly cleaned to rid it of leaves and debris, which also keeps your house in proper condition by eliminating roof leaks.

For optimal cleaning and maintenance, it’s recommended that you clean your gutter and downspouts at least twice a year. That said, if your home is in a wooded area with a lot of tree branches hanging on top of your gutters or if you live in an area that is prone to storms, you will have to increase the frequency of cleaning your gutters. You can either seek professional help to clean your gutters or take the DIY approach.

If you feel that your physical condition prevents you from certain activities, such as climbing up and down a ladder, the safest and recommended choice would be to opt for a professional gutter cleaning company. Although, if you feel confident enough, remember to use a strong ladder that can support your weight and under no circumstances stand on its top two rungs.

Effective Gutter Cleaning Techniques

Keep the following tips in mind while cleaning gutters:

  • Using a hose or a leaf blower is a great option. Just make sure you have the right gear such as heavy work gloves, a dust mask, and goggles.
  • You can also buy a gutter cleaning kit that connects to your left blower and simplifies gutter cleaning for you.
  • You should always start cleaning by removing leaves from the gutter. It’s difficult to remove soggy leaves, so leave them while they are slightly damp. Start with the drain outlet near the low end and use a gutter scoop or even a garden towel to clean them out. Once done, dump them into a bucket, and that’s pretty much it!
  • Clean the surrounding roof area thoroughly to avoid any future clogging.

As far as the overall lawn upkeep is concerned, there’s no better tool for it than using a leaf blower.

Bottom Line

Now you know exactly how to keep leaves out of your downspouts and the rest of the gutter system! We recommend regularly cleaning and maintaining your gutters and downspouts, depending on how often they get clogged.

You can either get professional help depending on your disposition, or you can choose to do it yourself. You can also eliminate the need for either of these options and upgrade to a modern, self-cleaning system.


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