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How Do I Unclog a Landscape Drain?

Unclog a Landscape Drain

Dirt and yard debris can be difficult to clean and flush out of a landscape drain unless you have the right drain cleaner for the job.

  1. Consider using a sewer jetter to clean landscape drains, 4" diameter corrugated black accordion drains, and French drains.
    • Needle Nose Drain CleanerA sewer jetter that's powered by your pressure washer can help you scrub and flush away silt, leaves, and dirty sediment so fewer clogs come back.
    • A Needle Nose™ drain cleaner is a sewer jetter with a tougher, braided steel jacket and a special compact nozzle tip that allows it to pass through more types and sizes of drains.
    • Powering the sewer jetter with a gas pressure washer rated 2.0 GPM to 4.0 GPM can make the job much easier, since outdoor debris can take significant force to scrub and flush out of the line.
    • Electric pressure washers are not recommended for cleaning landscape drains unless the pipe is less than 50 feet long and there's plenty of time for the job, since yard debris and silt can be difficult to flush with smaller machines.
    • Unclog the Landscape DrainBefore you start the job, find one or more drain openings that are downhill from the problem areas. Start from a downhill opening and clean in an uphill direction to help give the sediment a path to exit the drain.
    • Note: you should avoid using a sewer jetter in these cases:
    • If you think that the clog could be caused by tree roots, and you're sure that the drain is in good physical condition, consider renting a large mechanical drum auger with a root cutting blade to clear the line.
    • Important: if your landscape drain is clogged with dirt or silt, and if it appears that the debris did not flow into the line from an uphill drain opening, the drain could have a section that has separated or collapsed. If you think that a section of the drain could have separated or collapsed, or if the pipe is made of ceramic material (such as clay or concrete), you should inspect the drain with a video camera to make sure there's no damaged section where a sewer jetter or mechanical drain snake could get stuck.
  2. Needle Nose Drain CleanerTo clean your landscape drain with a sewer jetter:
    • Put on fluid resistant work gloves and eye protection.
    • Connect the drain cleaner to your trigger gun, start the pressure washer, and then guide the nozzle at least a foot into the drain opening, taking care to feed the nozzle in the direction of the clog, before you start the flow of water.
    • Guide the sewer jetter into the pipe as you squeeze the trigger. For more thorough cleaning, every few feet pull back about halfway and then continue moving forward.Clog Hog Sewer Jetter Video
    • After you have finished cleaning the drain, pull the drain cleaner out. Use care to release the trigger to stop the flow of water before the nozzle reaches the drain opening. Then replace any drain cover.
    • For more details you can watch this 3 minute video.
  3. If you're not comfortable performing any of these steps, hiring a landscape service company could save you money in the long run. To find a service company in your area:Service Professional
    • Start by asking family, friends and co-workers to recommend a company that has performed similar services for them.
    • If you are unable to find a good recommendation from someone you know, search local directories like Google Maps, Yelp and CitySearch for service companies nearby who have good online reviews. Don't always trust reviews from individuals who published very few other reviews, or from people who give only positive reviews to everyone. Be aware that good service providers sometimes get a small number of negative reviews for reasons that might not be relevant to your situation. Look for a company with several reviews that tell a positive, believable story about repairs that are similar to yours.
    • After you find one or more service companies that seem to have a good reputation, search online for the company name and the names of individuals at the company, if known. Take into account both the positive and negative information that you find about the company.
    • Be aware that good service companies sometimes have a backlog of several days during peak times when there are low temperatures, heavy rainfall or holidays. Sometimes heavy demand can be a sign of a company with lots of repeat customers.

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