French drains serve a simple and essential purpose: to protect basements and foundations from the damp earth. If you live somewhere rainy, flowing floodwater is normal, or the ground in your neighborhood is prone to sogginess, this can put your foundation at risk of water damage and serious shifting cracks.
A French drain helps remove water from the ground and carry it safely away. If your property has French drains installed, this installation was likely done to protect your property from flooding. However, like any drain, the line can be clogged or damaged, resulting in water pooling where you don't want it. If your French drain is backing up or draining slowly, French drain cleaning and maintenance services can quickly resolve the issue.
What is a French Drain System?
A French drain system is an outdoor drain that removes moisture from nearby soil and landscaping. Traditionally, French drains are placed at the bottom of a slope where water tends to gather and then helps to remove the water from the home using a combination of pipes and gravel. Many people shape their French drains into pebble creeks or line flower beds.
How Do French Drains Work?
A French drain starts by landscaping to direct water into specific places and lines. The gardened parts of the yard and walkways, along with the gutter downspouts, direct water to the location of your French drains.
Each water collection trench is filled with gravel, removing large debris, and a plastic pipe with holes in the top is at the bottom. The water enters the pipe through the gravel and is then carried to a safe drain location - the sewer or a nearby drainage creek - instead of swamping your foundation.
How to Tell if the French Drain is Working
The best way to test a French drain is to flush it with your garden hose. The drain should handle as much water as your house can pump out. Find the access and run water through it. If the water backs up, your French drain has a clog. If water wells up in the yard, you may have a leak.
Advantages of French Drains
French drains are extremely useful in wet and moist climates where the ground is often saturated with water. If puddles in the grass are common or you already have a problem with basement moisture and flooding when it rains, then French drains may be a smart idea for your entire neighborhood. French drains prevent rain from damaging foundations and control water flow to prevent swamped lawns, sidewalks, and gardens.
French drains are also a very affordable and fast solution to property water problems.
French Drain Maintenance
Your French drain will not need much maintenance. It is like an underground element of your gutter system, protected by a layer of gravel so that the drain will only need to be cleaned out once a year. This annual cleaning will remove any built-up sediment that turns to mud which slowly gets through the holes with the water.
Other than a once-yearly snaking, watch out for pooling water on your property which may indicate a flaw in the French drain system. If you find a problem that a hard blast from the hose won't cure, call a drain specialist to come in with the snake.
How to Unclog a French Drain
There are two ways to unclog a French drain. The first is with a power washer. You can use the hardest setting on your hose nozzle or rent an actual power washer to blast the clog out of your French drain. This method can work if the clog is nearby your access point and you have access to a power washer. Be careful, as a power washer has the potential to do real damage to your hands.
The second method to clean a French drain is to use a sewer snake. These are long metal cables with an attachment on the end to break up clogs. A sewer snake is much longer and tougher than a typical at-home snake for sinks and tubs.
Snaking the Drain
Snaking a French drain is no small matter. You will want to hire a drain professional who works with French drains or follow the step-by-step instructions with extreme care.
Wear Protective Gear
When working with a heavy-duty sewer snake, always wear protective gear. We suggest both work gloves and eye protection.
Access Your French Drain Clean Out
Find your French drain exit point, clean out, or access point, which may be a grate in the grass, a visible pipe top, or fitted into your downspout. Remove any cover or obstruction and gain full access to your French drain line.
Carefully Feed the Snake into the French Drain
Working with your snake, carefully feed the snake line into the drain until you feel it stop. This blockage is likely either a turn or an obstruction. A pro can navigate some turns and help you find and break up the clog wherever it occurs inside the drain line.
The Dos and Don'ts of French Drain Cleaning
- DO occasionally test and flush your French drain.
- DO NOT ignore pooling water in your yard.
- DO Use a heavy-duty sewer drain snake or power washer.
- DO NOT stand unprotected over your French drain while cleaning.
Professional Plumbing Maintenance & Repair
Contact us immediately if you have seen water pooling in your hard or if the gravel lines in your lawn are no longer where water gathers. French drain cleaning can ensure that the natural flood management system built into your yard is in working order. A little French drain routine cleaning and maintenance can help to keep your entire property in good condition.
Whether you recently had French Drains installed or suspect there are clogged French drains below lines of gravel in your yard, contact Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Phoenix.