Home Improvement

Unclogging Your Roof Drain | Step-by-Step Guide

People living in high rainfall zones are familiar with the troubles of clogged roof drains. Because roof drains are built outside the house, they’re vulnerable to all sorts of pollutants, including animal nests, leaves, and debris. That is perhaps the reason the roof drains get easily clogged. 

From there, water may seep into the ceilings and even down the walls if not treated in time. 

Unfortunately, many homeowners do not even realize they have a drain on their roofs. Even if they know, most of them start searching for drain cleaning near me‘ options believing it is the only solution for their clogged drains. 

But what if our old drain is damaged and needs replacement? Only a professional plumber is able to tell whether your clogged roof drain needs cleaning or if you have to replace it to prevent further leakage. 

We have created this post to help you understand everything you need to know about roof drain clogging and a few basic ways to unclog it on your own. 

Step 1 – Inspection

The roof drain, as its name hints, is found on the roof. The purpose of this drain is to connect your roof to an outlet pipe. There’s a strainer on the top portion, which prevents debris from entering the drain. The down portion is open, allowing access to birds and other animals to build their nest and homes. 

Because the drain isn’t inside, you might not observe clogging till the roof is flooded with water. 

The first step to unclog a roof drain is to conduct an inspection. This step is critical as it enables you to identify whether the clog is in the drain or elsewhere. Once you know the exact origin of the clog, it is time to take some safety measures. 

Put your gloves and friction shoes on. Bring a ladder and place it adjacent to a wall. Make sure it doesn’t come into contact with any power lines. Ask someone for help so that you don’t have to go up and down to bring tools and do errands. 

Step 2 – Unclogging Your Roof Drain (Different methods)

Here are a few ways to unclog your drain without any professional help. Do not try anything you’re not comfortable with. Call in a professional immediately if you’re not sure about the exact location of the clog. 


A conventional snake is often enough to unclog the roof drain. However, you may have to repeat the process several times to clear most of the debris. Feed the snake into the drain and start rotating it to reach the clog. Now, push the clog deep down till it is all clear through an outlet pipe. 

You can either use a traditional snake or an auger to clear your drain. It is important to keep your pressure low as any forceful attempt might cause a crack in your pipe.

Pro tip: if you don’t have a plumber’s snake or a power auger, you can also use a long stick to unclog your drain. If you choose to go with this option, just ensure you do it with a sturdy stick. If the stick breaks inside a pipe, it would be difficult for you to remove it on your own.  

Water hose

You can also use water pressure to push the debris down the drain. You can use your garden hose for this purpose.  

Simply uncover the drain and feed the hose into it. Turn on the tap and run water through a drain at a very high speed.

In case of a thick clog, the water might overflow inside the house and even clog other drains. To prevent this, hydro jetting is a safe alternative. But for this, you may have to call in your plumber, as it involves heavy machinery and very high water pressure to force debris out. 

Pipe brush

A pipe brush is basically a long brush designed specifically to unclog the roof drain. All you need to do is feed the brush inside your drain. Keep pushing it till it reaches the clog. 

This technique is effective when you have light debris or clog inside your pipe. But you may have to look for other alternatives if the clog is particularly thick. 

Hot water

Those living in colder regions often face frozen pipe troubles. For this, all they need to do is flush out some hot water down the drain. 

The safest way is to connect the hose to your hot water tap and use it to clear the debris away.  

Blow bag

A blow bag is a balloon-like device you can attach to your garden hose to unclog your roof drain. The balloon inside the pipe will expand and push the clog. 

Suction machine

High-power suction machines are a foolproof way to flush out leaves, sand, and debris inside your roof drains. The only downside is this device is expensive and only available to professionals. If you’re following a DIY route, you can rent out one from a nearby hardware store. 

Wet vacuum

If you have a wet vacuum in your home, you can use it to get rid of all the debris and gunk inside your drain. 

The device obviously cannot reach the end. So, you have to flush out the leftover debris using a stick or a pipe brush. 

Step 3 – Call a Plumber

Unclogging a roof drain is a challenging job. So many things can go wrong while trying to insert a balloon or a brush inside the drain. Suction machines and wet vacuums can also become tricky to use at times.

An expert plumber would cater to your needs immediately. Just ensure you get in touch with a reliable certified plumber, preferably someone who has many positive reviews on their website.

Steven M. Drake

Steven M. Drake is a digital marketing and SEO Expert working for multiple organizations to boost their business and online presence.

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