Stop Clogged Drain Tile with a Better Downspout Guard

Stop Clogged Drain Tile with a Better Downspout Guard

When my son bought his first home, an old fixer-upper with lots of character and potential, I knew I wanted to give him something practical to help him on his new adventure. While the charm of the house was undeniable, it came with its fair share of work and maintenance challenges, one of which was the existing drain tile system—a crucial setup for managing water drainage around the property.  My son has had a bum knee since child hood, so I would like to do everything I can to keep him from having to do work from his ladder - I hate when I pull up to the house and he is out on the ladder.

Keep Gutter Leaves out of Drain Tile and In Ground Drainage

Understanding the importance of maintaining these drain tiles, I decided to help him minimize future maintenance tasks and potential repair costs. With a limited budget but a firm resolve, I opted to invest in a preventive solution: gutter protection.  Here's an article I found on the subject of clogged in ground drainage. I knew I wanted to help him stop clogged drain tile by keeping gutter leaves from entering his downspouts.  After some research, I learned that typical wire basket strainers will keep the debris out of the downspouts, but reviews of the downspout strainers displayed that these small devices are actually too small and they clog up too often. 

How Do I Stop Gutter Leaves From Going Down the Downspouts

The reviews for the common wire downspout guards were good for easy installation, but apparently since all that gutter water is flowing towards these gutter strainers, there is not enough surface area on the common wire strainer to allow it to continue to flow for a reasonable amount of time.   I wanted to stop the leaves from going down the leader pipes, but I did not want to install an item that was going to clog frequently and force my son and his bum knee up the ladder.  

Wire Downspout Guards are too small and cause Gutter Overflow

 If I were to find a gutter strainer device that would keep the gutter water flowing for a reasonable amount of time without maintenance, I was going to have to look for a larger gutter strainer.   It seems obvious that a larger gutter strainer would have more area to trap the debris from entering the downspouts and then entering the in-ground drainage, while also allowing the rain water to flow.  I chose to purchase  GutterBrush downspout guards. These guards are designed to block leaves and debris from entering the downspouts, preventing clogs in the drain tiles, which could lead to costly repairs if left unaddressed.

A Better Downspout Guard will Stop Clogged Drain Tile

These downspout guards are a simple yet effective way to reduce the amount of gutter leaves and general debris entering the underground drainage system. By installing these, I hoped to save my son from the hassle and expense of having to excavate or replace clogged drain tiles in the future. This small investment could potentially spare him from a much larger financial burden down the line.  I wanted my investment to have a larger effect than simply the amount of money spent; I wanted to help him avoid a large expense in the future.  Those underground drainage systems also known as Drain Tile Systems, French drains, dry wells and gravel pits could potentially get filled up with debris and cause drainage problems and clogging, so I wanted to help him avoid the thousands of dollars it would cost in the future if they got clogged to the extent that they would no longer flow.  I know it would be even more expensive if he had to have someone excavate and replace the drain tile system.  GutterBrush is a better downspout guard because it is a larger downspout guard and it is longer to catch and stop more debris. 

A Better Downspout Guard that goes longer without causing Gutter Overflow

In order to keep my son off of the ladder, I could see that I had to be really smart.  If I protect his downspouts with 3 foot lengths of Gutterbrush,  that would be alot more surface area than a wire downspout strainer, however I wanted to make sure the gutter leaves do not pile up against the leading edge of his Gutterbrush and cause the rain water to pour over the side of the gutter.  My son has standard 5 inch common seamless gutters.  Gutterbrush makes a 4.25" brush that fits the 5 inch common seamless gutter very well because it fills the gutter well and even extends out the top of the gutter with a crowned raised profile, however I want my son's downspout guards to work even better.  If I were to fill the whole gutter, I would use the recommended 4.25" Gutterbrushes, however I am not planning to fill the whole gutter at this time, so I chose to protect his gutter with this undersized Gutterbrush for a smaller 4 inch gutter.    I chose the smaller 3.25" diameter brushes in 3 foot lengths because they were longer and because by choosing a smaller diameter, the gutter debris will not pile up on the edge of the brush and cause the rain water to flow over the edge of the gutter.  Instead, once the debris piles up on the edge of the brush, if it creates a dam, the rain water will raise up and flow over the newly installed smaller diameter Gutterbrush instead of pouring over the outer edge of the gutter.  This way,  the new brush downspout guards will have a certain maintenance free lifespan while the debris piles up against the edge, and then the rain water will raise up and flow over the brush as if the brush has many more lives to allow flow and collect the debris.  Once the rain water has deposited debris on the edge of the brush, it will then rise up and flow through the next 3 or 4 inches of the Gutterbrush and when that area of the brush is filled with debris, it will deposit the gutter leaves on the next 3 or 4 inches of brush and so on.  By undersizing the Gutterbrush,  the Gutterbrush can not cause the gutter to pour over and will continue to provide more maintenance free life every time a section of the brush gets filled.   I think choosing a smaller diameter of Gutterbrush was a very sound decision that will provide more time between maintenance visits, but if I were to be purchasing and filling the entire gutter, you can be sure I'd install the recommended size of Gutterbrush for that gutter.

In Ground Drain Tile, What it Really Means

While I was familiar with the basic concept of a drain tile system, I took some time to further educate myself about its specifics. A drain tile, also known as a French drain, consists of perforated pipes laid underground to redirect water away from the home’s foundation. Keeping these pipes clear of debris is crucial for their effectiveness and longevity.

Comprehensive Gutter Maintenance, A Good Investment 

Although the downspout guards are a great start, I learned that maintaining the entire gutter system is essential for the best protection against water damage. Leaves and gutter debris can still collect in the gutters, potentially leading to overflow or additional blockages. For more thorough protection, I learned that filling the entire length of the gutters with a simple self fitting DIY solution like the GutterBrush, would provide even greater assurance against clogging.   Simply covering the downspouts with 18” lengths of Gutterbrush would certainly stop the debris from going down the downspout pipes, but laying a 36” piece of Gutterbrush would do even better and would require even less maintenance.   The more Gutterbrush length that you add to the gutter,  the longer it will go without clogging and for the least amount of maintenance just fill the entire gutter with GutterBrush; and of course it keeps debris out of the downspouts and out of the drain tile too.  Here's a link to the most common size of GutterBrush.

While there is no such thing as a completely maintenance-free gutter system, especially in areas surrounded by trees, my aim was to reduce the frequency and extent of maintenance required by my son. By addressing the issue at the source—the gutters and downspouts—we can prevent larger issues related to water damage and drainage inefficiencies.

In sharing this experience, my hope is that other homeowners, especially those new to the responsibilities of property upkeep, will see the value in proactive gutter and downspout maintenance. Investing in simple, cost-effective DIY solutions like gutter brushes, can make a significant difference in managing a home’s long-term care requirements, allowing for more time and resources to be spent on making his house a home.

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