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How Do I Unclog a Landscape Drain?

Unclog a Landscape Drain

Leaves, mulch, silt, and other 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. If the drain is clogged with material that's close to a top opening, or if there's a solid clog like sticks or animal debris, try using a 1/2" manual drain auger to pull out or break apart the clog, and then try flushing out the material with a garden hose.
    • If your landscape drain is clogged with dirt that did not flow in from a top opening, the drain could have a section that is cracked, separated or collapsed. If you think that part of the drain could be damaged, inspect it with a video camera to make sure there's no section where a drain cleaner could get stuck.
    • To pull out fine roots, you can try using a 1/2" manual drain auger. You should avoid using electric drain augers in corrugated accordion drains, because the powered steel tip could damage the pipe wall.
  2. For clogs that are further from the drain opening and consist of flushable debris like leaves, mulch, or silt consider using a sewer jetter to clean corrugated accordion drains, PVC drains and other types of plastic landscape drains.
    • Needle Nose Drain CleanerA sewer jetter that's powered by your pressure washer can help you scrub and flush away the 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.
    • A gas pressure washer rated 2.0 GPM to 4.0 GPM is almost always required, since outdoor debris can take significant force to scrub and flush out of the pipe.
    • Electric pressure washers are not recommended for cleaning landscape drains unless the clog consists of easily flushed material that is less than 25 feet from the bottom opening.
    • Before you start the job, find a drain opening that is downhill from the problem area, where water normally exits the pipe. Start from the downhill opening and point the sewer jetter nozzle uphill so that the back jets work with gravity to flush the debris out of the drain.Unclog the Landscape Drain
    • Do not clean a landscape drain from its top opening if the bottom opening is buried underground, since the sewer jetter will dig into the ground when it reaches the buried end of the pipe and could get stuck.
    • You should avoid using a sewer jetter in clay (ceramic), concrete, and Orangeburg pipes because of the potential for drain cleaners to get stuck in preexisting cracks and separated sections often found in these types of drains.
    • A sewer jetter that's powered by your pressure washer can't remove roots.
  3. 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.
  4. 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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