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How To Unclog Properly

French drains can be subject to clogging, this is an unfortunate weakness that their design faces by nature. Tree roots, pests, excess mud build up, and other external and internal invaders can cause the entire system to back up. This obviously leads to no small amount of headache as the water overflows and spreads around the surrounding land.

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Clogged French drains can lead to flooding, and even damaged property if not cared for properly, and swiftly. These water issues can lead to other expensive issues. So, if you are noticing that your French Drain is not allowing water to flow as it should, here’s how you can get things running freely again.

How To Unclog Your French Drain

The first step is to always assess whether there is actually a clog. In many cases, you will notice this right away as you will find excess water buildup at the entrance to the drain. However, checking for clogs regularly can be useful, even if you don’t notice them right away–especially in more dry climates or seasons. Checking for clogs is as simple as taking a garden hose and running water down the drain. If the water immediately backs up out of the drain’s entrance, you know there is a problem.


The easiest way to free up clogging is by running highly pressurized water down the drain. You may have to rent a water pressurizing machine that will allow you to pump fast and powerful streams. In many cases this will dislodge the clog if it has not compacted too tightly.


You May Need a Pressure Washer or a Drain Snake

If the pressurizes water does not push the clog out the other end, you may need to purchase a drain snake to get in there and encourage the clog to move. You will need to ensure that the drain snake is long enough to go the length of the drain, as you will never know how far along the clog is. Drain snakes can wrap up and cling to the clog and help dislodge it with a bit of vigorous twisting and pulling. After a bit of pushing and twisting, you should feel the clog begin to loosen up, this is when you can go back to using pressurized water to help move it along out the end.

In the most severe cases, you may have to resort to actually replacing the entire piping altogether. In the case of newly installed French drains, this is rather unlikely to be necessary. However, older French drains can often collapse and break down, this itself might be the cause of the ‘clog’. In these cases, your best bet is to start from scratch, unfortunately.

Final Thoughts

If all else fails, you can always hire a professional to come in and get your French drain back to full operation. This, of course, is going to be the most expensive option and is usually used as a last resort. However, professionals will have access to high-tech equipment that can get any clog removed no matter how stubborn. However, unless the pipe is broken and collapsed, a drain snake and some pressurized water is almost always going to get the clog broken up and moved out eventually.

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