A French drain can be a lifesaver for your home as it helps prevent water from entering your house’s foundation. They tend to include several components: a trench that measures three to six feet deep, landscape fabric liners, a perforated pipe with rocks, and a sump box. All these work to remove water before it can damage a home.
That said, French drains aren’t immune to certain issues such as clogging. Over time, debris can build up inside the pipes and prevent water movement. As such, Granite Foundation Repair has prepared a French drain cleaning guide to help you prevent any water damage in your house!
French Drain Cleaning: What You Should Do
#1: Assess the Condition of the Drain Regularly
French drains aren’t meant to be installed and forgotten about. Just like other types of drains, they are susceptible to clogging over time.
Ideally, clean the French drain once every year. Test it by flooding the French drain to gauge its effectiveness when it comes to draining the excess water.
First, you’ll need to locate the ground-level access point of your French drain. Depending on its design, the ground-level access can be either the end of a gutter downspout, a grate sticking out, or simply a pipe above ground.
Once you’ve located any one of those, you’ll need to remove the cap and run a hose down the pipe. Does the water back up? If it does, then your French drain is definitely blocked.
#2: Use a Pressure Washer to Clean the Drain
This is arguably the easiest way to clean a French drain. It’s usually effective and won’t damage the pipes. Ideally, you should be doing this once a year.
All you need to do is place the pressure washer nozzle in the pipe and blast some water down it. If the debris isn’t solid, the pressurized water should help break it down and push it out.
#3: Use a Drain Snake to Get Rid of Stubborn Clogs
A plumber’s snake or a drain snake is a slender, flexible tool that can help remove clogs in plumbing. It’s a heavy-duty version of a pressure washer. Pressure washers are typically not able to remove compacted mud, plant roots, and even small rocks. That’s where a drain snake comes in.
For those hard-to-remove clogs, a heavy-duty drain snake can come in handy. These machines are used to clear drains and sewer lines from 1-inch up to 8-inches in diameter.
A drain snake contains a long, steel tube with a corkscrew-like coil at the end and a hand crank at the other. When inserting it into a clogged pipe, it’ll break anything that gets in its way. All you’ll need to do is keep rotating it against the blockage until you feel it moving freely through the pipe.
#4: Inspect the Ground Surrounding the French Drain
Sometimes the problem with your French drain may not be caused by a clog inside the pipe. It’s also possible for the issue to be caused by the surrounding area. A good example of such an issue is compacted soil.
Compacted soil can push down against your French drain, preventing the normal flow of water.
Also, nearby trees may have roots that alter the pitch of the French drain. A telltale sign of this is if you notice these roots near the surface of the drain. In such a case, take a closer look at what’s going on below the ground.
French Drain Cleaning: What You Shouldn’t Do
#1: Don’t Ignore a Clogged French Drain
It isn’t common for a French drain to clog up, so it’s easy to forget about checking on your French drains. However, as we’ve mentioned, paying attention to them can prevent larger issues from happening in the odd case that there is a clog. These issues may not be obvious until water damage is present.
If you notice that it may have problems directing water as it normally does, be proactive and don’t assume it will resolve itself.
#2: Don’t Take Safety for Granted When Using a Pressure Washer
When spraying water through a pipe, it’s important to steer clear of the end of the drain. Typically, it takes some time to remove a clog using a pressure washer, so it’s possible that the pressure washer will hit the clog and then send it back up the pipe towards you.
So, when using a pressure washer, make sure to take some precautionary measures. Wear protective goggles and stand to the side of the pipe. Also, ensure that your hands are away from the nozzle, as the pressure can cause significant injuries to them.
#3: Don’t Use a Drain Snake Without Experience
Drain snakes are powerful tools. As mentioned, they are the heavy-duty versions of pressure washers. When handled the wrong way, they can cause more harm than good. Specifically, pressure washers can cause serious damage to your hands if you don’t have the proper skill set to use them.
Ideally, hire a professional to use a drain snake on your behalf. But, if you end up doing it on your own, make sure to take all the necessary precautions.
Also, don’t rush when working with a drain snake. If it hits an obstruction, simply back it off a little and then send it forward again. Repeat this until the obstruction is cleared.
A French drain is a smart investment to keep your home’s foundation in good condition. When it gets clogged up, it becomes ineffective and can cause a myriad of issues to your home, including structural damage. If cleaning your French drain proves daunting for you, hiring a professional can be the best option.
If you have any concerns that your clogged French drain has caused damage to your home’s foundation or you are experiencing other drainage issues, contact Granite Foundation Repair today! We can both inspect your home’s foundation and assess the needed repairs, as well as provide you with proper drainage solutions.