How To Unclog a Downpipe

Helpful maintenance how to: Unclog a downpipe and get water flowing off your roof and into your storm water drainage before the next storm hits!

Header image: How to unclog a downpipe

Are your gutters overflowing? You might have a blocked down pipe! This is a pretty common occurrence for most of us, especially those of us who like a leafy outlook! Read on for a few helpful tips on how to get water flowing off your roof and into your storm water drainage before the next storm hits!

Safety First

First and foremost is safety. Do not attempt any of the below unless you feel comfortable doing so. This DIY approach requires you to use a ladder to access the top of the downpipe and is potentially dangerous. It’s important that you set the ladder up in safe, flat, dry/non-slip position where movement is inhibited and no dangerous objects are below. Don’t carry multiple items or heavy items while on a ladder. Stick to the ladder safety do’s and dont’s. Only proceed in the presence of another person. With the right safety precautions and awareness, unclogging your downpipe can be carried out with ease.

Ladder safety: Do's and Dont's

What you’ll need

  • Sturdy gloves (to avoid cuts from overhanging roof sheeting etc.)
  • Eye protection (for potential water spray or debris)
  • Hose with running water
  • Something long and sturdy to poke with, a stick, rod or wire coat hanger can do the trick (flexibility is also useful here – to get round those bends!)
  • Ladder

Examples of required equipment


  1. Set up your ladder as close as safely possible so that you can access the top of the downpipe. If there is no safe way to access the downpipe – please do not proceed!
  2. Put on your gloves and eye protection
  3. Retrieve your long pokey thing and carefully climb up the ladder
  4. Ensure you’ve got a good hold/stance once you’re at the point you can access the top of the downpipe.
  5. Remove any visible debris by breaking up with stick and scooping with your hands (there are also fancy scooping tools for this, but hands work fine too)
  6. Insert the stick into the downpipe as far as possible
  7. If you reach the blockage, attempt to break it up by giving it a good shake and whack with the stick.
  8. If it feels like you’ve broken up the debris and the pipe is now clear, it’s time for testing.
  9. Descend the ladder and retrieve your hose. The next bit is where your mate comes in:
  10. Climb the ladder with the hose in hand and steady yourself
  11. Insert the hose into the downpipe
  12. Have your friend turn on the hose
  13. If water starts flowing freely from the bottom of your downpipe – congratulations you’ve unblocked it!
  14. If it doesn’t and water continues to overflow out the top, the blockage remains intact.
  15. At this point, with the hose still in the pipe, you could try to use increased water pressure to break up the debris.
  16. Push the hose in as far as it can go and ask your friend to turn the hose on further – be prepared for sprayback!
  17. You can also try giving the downpipe a good whack or jiggle at the point of the blockage(without damaging of course) to loosen it.
  18. If none of the above appear to be working, it might be time for the experts to come in with their drain snake.
  19. Once you’ve unblocked your downpipes, ensure it never happens again by installing gutter guard! (Check out our short video: ‘Is it worth getting guard?’ for to learn about the benefits of gutter guard.)

This is just one solution to skinning a downpipe, because as they say, ‘There’s more than one way to unclog a cat!’.

The main point is: be careful, and be prepared to get a professional to help if required!

We hope you found this these DIY instructions on gutter maintenance and how to unclog a downpipe useful. If you’ve got any further queries please leave a message in the comments section below, alternatively don’t hesitate to give us a call and have a chat with one of our friendly roofing experts!

1800 476 634

You can also request a complimentary roof inspection and quote by clicking this link:


Updated 10th Jan 2020 to provide most current information

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