How to Clean a French Drain

Sunday, June 21, 2020 - 5:58pm
How to Clean a French Drain
This post was written with the expertise of West London Plumbers, a Plumber in West London.

A French drain is a commonly preferred type of drainage system for property owners or developers. It serves a very functional purpose and has the benefit of solving some basic flooding issues. When you have a French drain, then you don’t have to worry about your flat yard becoming waterlogged or your basement getting wet.

A French drain is designed in a sloped way in which there is a trench that’s filled with gravel, with a pipe that channels all the water away from your house, towards the gravel trench. This way, the water does not flow and cover the surface of the ground or seep down to your basement.

There are different types of French drains. It mostly depends on what is needed for the size of your yard and your drainage issues. The type of French drain you choose to use has a particular method of installation and maintenance. Some French drain types are very deep into the ground, while some only have to be a few feet deep.

The problem with a French drain is that the drainage can quickly get clogged and cause some damage. So, it is very important that you clean your French drain regularly, and get it free of dirt and debris.

Cleaning Your French Drain

Cleaning your French drain should be a routine activity that you do once in a while, at least annually. This would help it stay clear and functional for a long period of time.

Cleaning your French drain is usually done through a process popularly known as snaking. Snaking your French drain simply means using an electric sewer snake as a device to unclog your drain of accumulated debris. You can always rent this from any maintenance store for an affordable amount, depending on the length of its cable.

This is a process that you can carry out by yourself. But since the electric sewer snake is quite heavy, you might have to get some help carrying it.

Aside from this, you don’t really need any complex tools in particular. However, the following steps should be followed to successfully clean out a French drain:

  • The drain usually has a lid which you first have to open. Then you let down the electric sewer snake cable into the drain. Before you feed the cable into the drain, ensure your hands are protected with good rubber gloves. 
  • The cable has to be long enough to reach the bottom of the drain. However, there would be obstacles and resistance on the drainage path. These are things that the snake would maneuver through. So when it appears stuck, patiently retract it until the cable can pass through again. You would have to carefully wiggle the cable around to work through, or around a bend.
  • Continue to move the cable through the drain as it works through the obstacles clogging the French drain. You might have to retract the cable out more than once, but it will eventually reach the end of the drain as you continue.
  • When you get to the end of the drain, retract the electric sewer snake.
  • Now you can flush out residual debris through the drain using water from a garden hose.

This is how you can easily get your French drain cleaned. However, you should note that, although the process is simple, it might take a good amount of time to get through the entire drain.

Sometimes it might take you a few hours, especially if it’s a large one. It can also prove to be somewhat complicated for some people. This happens particularly when you have not cleared out the drain in a long time.

You might find the drainage path seriously clogged with debris at several points. In such cases, you might require the services of an expert plumber, or a good maintenance team to help you clean the French drain thoroughly.

Most times, the experts can do a better job within a shorter time and even handle extra complications that might occur.

Clean Out Your French Drain Regularly

So as we can see, it is important that you clean out your French drain regularly. Although the drain can function for several years without any trouble, cleaning it regularly is a far easier task than cleaning it once in many years. Note also that the French drain must be better maintained in times of heavy rainfall or floods, so as to prevent it from building up more water and waste.

In addition, the gutter system would also need to be cleaned out, so that the debris from the French drain does not just end up there. In all, you would be better suited for the task of cleaning a French drain if you have one or two other people to assist you. 

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