Is a downspout strainer the best choice in leaf protection?
We all know that gutter cleaning is not a very pleasant job but it is a critical part of annual gutter maintenance. The biggest problem with seamless aluminum gutters is that they fill up with leaves, sticks, roof particles and other debris
The most commonly used strainer is the birdcage or basket strainer made from expanded steel, aluminum and copper. Unfortunately, this is not the best way to keep your downspouts clear. While preventing the downspout from clogging, it actually accelerates the accumulation of debris around the strainer.
These strainers clog up with small amounts of tree debris that would normally pass right through the downspout. A downspout strainer works great at keeping your downspouts from becoming clogged. The only problem is, it will create a dam of debris around the strainer which will further block the downspout. So now you have fixed one problem and created another one by completely closing off the downspout and eventually causing your gutters to overflow.
Many people use these strainers because they are easy to install and inexpensive. I think it's foolish to spend a few bucks on a downspout strainer and later on, pay a lot more to have the gutters and downspouts cleaned out.
Installing expanded metal leaf screens would be a far better choice if you want to keep your gutters and downspouts clean. Leaf screens keep out leaves, branches, pine cones and toys that will quickly clog your gutters. If the gutters are installed properly with a slight slope toward the downspouts, the small amount of debris that passes through the screens and into the gutter will be flushed out when it rains.
If your downspouts do become clogged, run a garden hose down from the top of the downspout, turn the water on full blast and hopefully the clog will be cleared. If this does not work, try using a plumbers snake.
If all this fails to remove the clog, the downspout will have to be removed and taken apart to find the clog. Usually the clog will be in one of the elbows. I have found all sorts of things in downspouts, like toys and golf balls.
Always be sure to disconnect your downspouts from underground drain lines prior to flushing them out.
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