Water is gathering around my drain!
Depending on the location and layout of your house and property, you may have one or more outdoor drains to prevent water from infiltrating your home. They often lie close to your home—near a low point like the bottom of your stairwell. Over time, these drains (also known as storm drains or areaway drains) can appear clogged or lose their ability to properly drain water. This leads to pooling water and a high risk of flooding your home. While it may look like a simple clog, the culprit is often something deeper.
Read on to learn how you can try and diagnose the problem before calling a plumber
Problem #1: Your home’s French drain is clogged or failing
If you find yourself wondering why water is collecting around your outdoor storm drain, the first place to look is your French drain. If “French drain” is another term you’re not used to, you should know that it’s a below-ground trench filled with a perforated pipe and gravel that naturally enables water to drain away from your house’s foundation. When a French drain becomes clogged with leaves or other debris, it’s possible for water to back up into your outdoor storm drain.
The good news is that unclogging a French drain is easier than you might think. First, you’ll want to locate one of its ends by scanning the highest point of your yard and looking for a hole. Next, run water from a garden hose down into the French drain. If water flows through freely, you can likely move on to problem #2 (more on that in a bit). If the water collects or backs up, you’ve found your culprit. The two best ways to unclog a French drain are using a pressure washer and powering through the debris to break it up OR utilizing a sewer snake to manually clear the drain. While cleaning your drain with a pressure washer is a relatively simple task, we do recommend that you seek a professional for drain snaking. If you decide to use a pressure washer and think you have cleared the stoppage, try the garden hose again to confirm that the water is flowing freely.
Beyond clogs, there are other reasons why a French drain could fail—but most involve poor installation practices. For instance, the trench may not be deep enough, or there may not be a barrier between the gravel and subsoil. In this case, that gravel will migrate away from the pipe and into the subsoil, thus slowly reducing the French drain’s ability to carry water away from your home as intended. If that’s the case with your French drain, it may be worth the investment to have it replaced.
Problem #2: Your home’s sump pump is clogged or failing
Most of us are familiar with a sump pump and how it removes accumulated water to prevent basement flooding. A clogged or failing sump pump can wreak all kinds of havoc, but one of the most common problems it causes is water gathering around storm drains.
If you’ve already explored your French drain as described in problem #1, it’s time to check for sump pump clogs. To do this, you’ll want to first inspect the outlet on the discharge pipe, as they’re prone to clogging. Next, you’ll want to unplug the actual sump pump and float from the electrical outlet—this is an important safety step, so be sure to do so before proceeding. After you remove the sump basin’s lid, closely examine the pump inside the basin and scoop out any debris before lifting it out for a closer look. Once you’ve cleared the clutter, pour about five gallons of water into the basin and monitor its drainage.
When it comes to a sump pump failure, there are a variety of factors that could trigger a malfunction. Because the pump uses electricity, it can fail due to a power outage from a storm. Additionally, a lack of maintenance, frozen pipes, and even old age can contribute to a failure. As we mentioned in the section on French drain failure, depending on what’s wrong, your home may need a new sump pump.
If both your French drain and sump pump are operating properly, and you’re still experiencing water gathering around your areaway drain, you do have another option: Call the professionals at Prime Plumbing for help. Save time, call Prime!
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