What To Do When Your Outdoor Drain Is Clogged

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So if you’ve noticed standing water in your yard after a rainstorm, it’s possible you have a clogged outdoor underground drain.

I briefly addressed this previously in a post about water pooling in your home or yard. And while you might think it would be, it isn’t really a plumbing issue. It’s a drainage issue.

But we get enough questions about it that I’d like to talk a bit about it here on the blog.

How a Yard Drain Works

Just like your home’s sewer system, a yard drain works with the power of gravity. It’s installed at a downward slope allowing water to drain out of your yard and into the city’s system.

There are a few different types of pipes used for an outdoor drain. These are corrugated pipe, perforated pipe, and PVC pipe.

And like the plumbing system inside your house, outdoor drains can get clogged as well. But instead of things like waste, food, or toilet paper, your outdoor drain gets clogged with leaves, burrowing nests, mud, etc.

How to Unclog an Outside Drain

Depending on how severe the clog and what type of pipe you’re dealing with, unclogging your yard drain could go a few different ways.

Outdoor drain clogged with mud

If you have a PVC drain pipe, you can try using a drain auger or sewer cleaning machine.

A cable attached to the machine and then fed into the pipe which breaks up the mud by spinning through the pipe. Then flush the line to clear out any remaining debris.

With mud, you need a pretty hefty cable, either a half inch or ¾ inch. But the size you get also depends on the size of the pipe. Just know that the smaller the diameter of the cable, the less likely it is to clear out the mud.

If you have a corrugated or perforated pipe, you can’t use a sewer cleaning machine. The cable typically has a sharp blade attached to the tip and it can get caught in the folds or holes and tear apart the pipe as well as mess up the machine.

With these types of pipes and with PVC, try using hydro jetting. Hydro jetting uses high pressure water to flush out what is causing the clog.

You can rent both sewer cleaning machines and hydro jetters from your local hardware store like The Home Depot. I will mention here, though, you need to be careful using these machines. If you don’t have experience with them, you could hurt yourself and/or your pipes.

However, before you do that, look into trying a blow bag.

How to use a blow bag to clear a clogged yard or driveway drain

A blow bag is an inflatable bladder that you can attach to the end of your garden hose.

Attach the blow bag to the end of the hose and insert it into the pipe. Push the bag as far into the pipe as you can but don’t force it.

Once you turn on the water, the blow bag fills up and then water bursts out — creating a hydro jet like water pressure — forcing the clog out the other end.

Sometimes this works to clear out a clog, sometimes it doesn’t. It really does depend on the severity of the clog.

How To Keep Your Yard Drain from Clogging

If you’ve been doing regular upkeep, you can easily prevent clogs with nothing but your hands and garden hose.

Find the drain covers and remove them. Reach in and clear away any leaves or gunk at both the entrance and the exit. Then insert your garden hose at the entrance point as far as you can and turn it on to flush out any debris that is in the pipe.

Once the water runs clear at the exit, you’re done.

This is best done around fall when you get a lot more leaves in the yard.

Also periodically check your outside drain covers for leaves. Just clear them away so water can enter the pipe and before they get a chance to break down and get into the drain.

Should You Use Cleaning Chemicals for Your Outside Drain?

I don’t recommend the use of drain cleaning chemicals.

First, most drain cleaners — for outside or inside pipes — contain acids which end up damaging your pipes. They are made to eat away at whatever is built up inside your pipes. But they can also eat away at your pipe.

Not to mention, if not handled properly, these products often are made up of chemicals that can also be dangerous to you.

Additionally, when you use these, they drain into the city’s water system through storm drains, etc. The water from the storm drains typically doesn’t go to a treatment facility first. It instead flows directly into the closest body of water taking these chemicals with them.

How Much Does It Cost to Clear a Clogged Outdoor Drain?

It depends.

If you do it yourself — and you know what you’re doing — you’re spending your time and whatever it costs to buy or rent the equipment you need which will vary depending on your location.

As I mentioned before, this isn’t really a plumbing problem. So if you call a plumber, it’s going to cost you more than if you called a drainage expert.

It is my recommendation that you call a drainage expert. They will be able to better assess your specific situation and already have the experience and the equipment to deal with it.

It’s always better to call someone who deals with the problems you’re experiencing day in and day out. The experience and knowledge alone is worth it.

More Questions?

As always, if you have any questions about anything you read on the blog, we’re here for you. If you aren’t sure your problem is plumbing or not, we can help you figure that out.

Give us a call at 972-494-1750, or email service@inhouseplumbingcompany.com.

In-House Plumbing Company

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