What To Do When Your Outdoor Drain Is Clogged

There’s nothing more frustrating than dealing with a clogged outdoor drain. Whether it’s rainwater pooling around your home’s foundation or an overflowing storm drain in your yard, a blocked drainage system can quickly lead to flooding, property damage, and an unsightly mess. Don’t panic – with the right approach and tools, you can often clear an outdoor drain clogged with debris yourself. This guide will walk you through the most effective methods for unclogging outdoor drains, from simple DIY techniques to when it’s time to call in the professionals.

Step 1: Identify the Clog Source

Before attempting to clear the clog, it’s crucial to identify the source of the blockage. Inspect the outdoor drain clogged and the surrounding area for any obvious obstructions that could be causing the backup.

Common culprits include:

  • Leaves, twigs, and other yard debris that have accumulated in or around the drain opening.
  • Overgrown grass or weeds encroaching on the drain and blocking water flow.
  • Mud or dirt that has built up and covered the drainage holes.
  • Trash, litter, or kids’ toys that have fallen into the drain.

Once you’ve identified the potential source of the clog, you can better determine the appropriate method for clearing it.

Step 2: Try Simple DIY Methods First

If the clog appears to be near the surface or in the drain opening itself, there are several simple DIY methods you can try before resorting to more advanced techniques.

Use a Drain Snake or Auger

A drain snake, also known as a plumber’s auger, is a long, flexible cable with a coiled end that can be fed into the drain to dislodge and remove clogs. Here’s how to use one:

  1. Locate the drain opening and remove any visible debris or obstructions.
  2. Feed the end of the drain snake into the drain opening, turning the crank or handle to advance it further into the pipe.
  3. Continue feeding the snake until you feel resistance, indicating you’ve reached the clog.
  4. Turn the crank in a clockwise direction to work the coiled end through the blockage, breaking it up and allowing water to flow freely.
  5. Slowly withdraw the snake, continuing to turn the crank to capture any debris or material that was causing the clog.

Drain snakes and augers can be purchased at most hardware stores or rented from equipment rental centers.

Hydro-Jet the Drain

If the clog is further down the drain pipe or seems particularly stubborn, you may need to use a hydro-jet to blast it clear. Hydro-jetting uses high-pressure water to scour the inside of the drain pipe, dislodging and flushing away built-up debris, grease, and other materials that can cause clogs.

While you can rent hydro-jet machines for DIY use, it’s often best to hire a professional plumbing service like MKE Drain Cleaning to handle the hydro-jetting process. These companies have the specialized equipment and expertise to safely and effectively clear even the most stubborn outdoor drain clogs.

Use a Plumber’s Snake or Hose

For minor clogs or those located closer to the drain opening, you may be able to dislodge the blockage using a plumber’s snake (also known as a hand auger) or a garden hose.

To use a plumber’s snake:

  1. Insert the end of the snake into the drain opening.
  2. Twist and push the snake further into the pipe, working it through the clog.
  3. Retrieve the snake, pulling out any debris or material that was causing the blockage.

Alternatively, you can try using a garden hose to flush out the clog:

  1. Securely attach the hose to an outdoor faucet or spigot.
  2. Feed the end of the hose into the drain opening, ensuring a tight seal.
  3. Turn on the water and allow the pressure to build up.
  4. Quickly remove the hose, allowing the built-up water pressure to blast through the clog.

Be cautious when using water pressure, as it can potentially cause further damage or flooding if the clog is severe.

Chemical Drain Cleaners

As a last resort for DIY methods, you can try using a chemical drain cleaner designed specifically for outdoor drains. These products typically contain harsh chemicals like sulfuric acid or lye that can help dissolve and break down clogs.

However, it’s important to exercise caution when using chemical drain cleaners, as they can be harmful to the environment and may damage your drain pipes if used improperly. Always follow the product instructions carefully and take appropriate safety precautions, such as wearing gloves and eye protection.

If the clog persists after trying these DIY methods, it may be time to call in professional help.

Step 3: When to Call a Professional Plumber

While many outdoor drain clogs can be cleared using DIY techniques, there are some situations where it’s best to enlist the help of a professional plumbing service:

  • Severe or recurring clogs: If the clog is particularly stubborn or keeps returning, it may indicate a more significant issue that requires professional attention.
  • Potential pipe damage: If you suspect the clog is caused by a broken or damaged drain pipe, attempting DIY repairs could lead to further damage or costly repairs.
  • Hydro-jetting needed: As mentioned earlier, hydro-jetting is often best left to professionals with the proper equipment and training.
  • Excavation required: In some cases, the clog may be located deep underground, requiring excavation to access and clear the drain pipe.

Professional plumbers have access to advanced tools and techniques, such as video inspection cameras, that can help them quickly identify and resolve even the most challenging outdoor drain clogs.

Preventing Future Outdoor Drain Clogs

Once you’ve successfully cleared the clog, it’s essential to take steps to prevent future blockages and keep your outdoor drains flowing freely. Here are some tips:

  • Regularly clean and maintain your drains: Periodically inspect and remove any debris or buildup from drain openings and surrounding areas.
  • Install drain covers or grates: These can help prevent leaves, twigs, and other yard debris from entering the drain and causing clogs.
  • Trim vegetation around drains: Keep grass, weeds, and other plants trimmed back to prevent overgrowth and encroachment on drain openings.
  • Dispose of trash and litter properly: Ensure that trash, litter, and other debris are properly disposed of and not left to accumulate around outdoor drains.
  • Consider professional drain cleaning services: Many plumbing companies offer regular outdoor drain cleaning and maintenance services to help prevent clogs before they occur.

By taking proactive measures to maintain your outdoor drains and addressing clogs promptly, you can avoid the hassle and potential damage caused by blocked drainage systems.

In conclusion, a clogged outdoor drain can be a frustrating and potentially costly issue, but with the right approach and tools, it’s often a problem you can resolve yourself. Start by identifying the source of the clog, then try simple DIY methods like using a drain snake or auger, hydro-jetting, or chemical drain cleaners.

If the clog persists or seems particularly severe, don’t hesitate to call in professional help from a reputable plumbing service. With proper maintenance and preventative measures, you can keep your outdoor drains flowing freely and avoid future clogs and backups.

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