How and Why You Need to Maintain Your Storm Drainage System

Storm drains provide a useful service by functioning as a drainage system. They direct excess water away and into a sewer system when it rains, to keep your yard, roads, and other areas from flooding.

Where Are Storm Drains Installed?Grass Field

Storm drains can refer to the yard drains you have around your home, as well as the grated and open curb drains you see at crosswalks, street corners, or other such places. If you have an in-ground pool, you will have storm drains to help keep the pool from overflowing.

What Are Storm Drains Used For?

Storm drains collect excess freshwater and move it through a sewer system to a location where it will help prevent flooding. In some cities, they have water collection basins that are connected to storm drainage systems. These basins might be empty during dry spells, but, when it rains for several days, they can start to fill up.

Around your home, you can have storm drains installed to drain away from the water that is collected in your gutters and downspouts. This is to prevent water from pooling and flooding next to the foundation of your home. This type of storm drain system directs the water away from the home out into the yard. Sometimes, it can also be connected to the city storm drain system.

How Does a Storm Drainage System Work?

The concept and structure of a storm drainage system are fairly simple. There is a drain pipe connected to another pipe, called the termination pipe, that routes water away from the location where it enters the storm drain.

Some storm drains have grated or mesh covers to prevent larger objects from getting into the system. Other storm drains do not have any covers, which can allow leaves, trash, waste, and other debris to get into the system.

The drainage system can flow into reservoirs, rivers, streams, lakes, or reclamation facilities. For example, some cities collect all storm drain water and use it to water public parks and flowers. This water is not safe to drink or play in because it is not treated water.

In cases where the drain water is directed into another fresh body of water, there can be potential environmental and pollution issues. If you have ever seen trash, tires, toys, and other waste in a local river or lake, chances are it got there from an uncovered storm drain system.

What Causes Storm Drains to Clog?

One of the most common causes of storm drain clogs is from natural debris. Leaves, branches, twigs, grass clippings, sand, dirt, rocks, and leaves can all get trapped on top of drains in screens and grates. If they are not removed, the drainage of water can be completely stopped. If this occurs, then the drain water will start to rise and flood the area since it cannot go down the drain.

What Causes Storm Drains to Clog?Clogged Canal

One of the most common causes of storm drain clogs is from natural debris. Leaves, branches, twigs, grass clippings, sand, dirt, rocks, and leaves can all get trapped on top of drains in screens and grates. If they are not removed, the drainage of water can be completely stopped. If this occurs, then the drain water will start to rise and flood the area since it cannot go down the drain.

Another cause for clogged drains is when excessively large objects get into the drainage system. With uncovered drains, it is easier for large objects to get into the system. However, there can be other grates and screens underground that also work to filter out debris. If these are blocked by larger objects, they can cause a backup of drain water, especially during heavy downpours.

Furthermore, plastic bags, fast food containers, plastic bottles, food, aluminum cans, cardboard containers, and other such waste materials can create clogs in storm drains. Many of these items are not biodegradable and slowly accumulate in the system over time.

Additionally, tree roots can cause storm drain clogs. Tree roots can grow through certain types of drain pipes to reach the water they need. Initially, the tree roots are not that big. Over the years, as the tree grows, the roots also grow bigger. Eventually, the roots can become so big, it can block the drainage pipe completely.

How to Help Keep Trash and Waste Out of Storm Drains

It is important to do what you can around your home or business to prevent trash and other waste from getting into city storm drains. Some of the more common things you can do include:

  • Always keep a lid on trash cans and recycling bins.
  • Pick up any loose trash you notice in your yard or the side of the road near your home or business.
  • Volunteer to clean up trash alongside city streets.
  • Avoid using pesticides and fertilizers on your yard and plants.
  • Collect grass clippings for a compost pile instead of blowing them out into the street.
  • Never rake leaves into the street, unless your city has a leaf collection program and it is okay to do so.
  • Never leave pet waste lying around, as it contains harmful bacteria.
  • Never pour oil, antifreeze, and other such fluids into a storm drain.

What Maintenance Needs to Be Done to Storm Drain Systems

Just like other plumbing systems, storm drains do require regular drain service maintenance. The type of maintenance that needs to be performed will vary based on the location and type of storm drain system.

Home Storm Drainage System Maintenance

To prevent clogged storm drains around your home, you should get into the habit of doing the following preventative maintenance:

  • Inspect drain covers weekly for debris and clean covers if needed.
  • If you notice a cover is broken or has come off, have it repaired or replaced.
  • If your home has gutters and downspouts, clean the gutter in the fall and in the spring to keep smaller-sized twigs and leaves from getting into the system.
  • Install screen covers over gutters to keep out leaves and prevent clogs.

Once a year, perform storm drain service yourself or by calling your local plumbing company. Storm drain service requires to do a detailed cleaning of the drainage system by doing the following:

  • Remove drain covers. You may need to hunt around for these if you haven’t been doing your regular preventative maintenance. Once you locate them, remove any debris from the screens or grates before taking the covers off.
  • Clean out any excess debris inside the drain pipes. Remove as much debris as you can by simply reaching into the pipe and pulling it out. You can also use a shop vac to help suck up the debris since it can be used for both wet and dry debris.
  • Inspect where the sewer drain terminates. The termination location will vary whether your system drains into the yard or is connected to your city’s sewer system. If your system drains into the yard, look for drainage caps. These caps only open when water is flowing out of them, so you will need to carefully remove them and check for debris in the pipes.
  • Flush the drain pipes. Once all the drain covers and termination covers have been removed, you need to flush out the entire system. Take a garden hose and insert it into the first storm drain entrance. Turn the water on and check the termination side to see if the water is flowing out. Wait until the water flows clearly and there is no more debris coming out the termination pipe. Repeat the process for each storm drain.
  • Replace the storm drain and termination covers. After you have flushed the system, reinstall the covers.

If you notice there is a clogged drain, and water is not flowing as fast as it should out the termination pipe, you will need to call your plumber for water jetting or other drain cleaning services to remove the clog.

City Storm Drainage System MaintenancePlumbers cleaning storm drain

Most cities will take care of their own storm drain system maintenance. However, there are things you can do too. You can make sure that any drain covers next to your home or business are not clogged with debris.

You can also pick up leaves, branches, and other debris that accumulate in front of storm drains on street curbs to help keep the drains clear. If you notice a city storm drain is backing up, call your local city’s water management office and notify them of the problem.

Storm drains provide a valuable service by directing excess rainwater away from homes and businesses. They also keep streets from flooding. By taking the time to perform regular storm drain maintenance around your home or business, you can help avoid clogged drains and other storm drain system problems.

If you need help performing storm drain cleaning or other storm drain maintenance, please feel free to contact MET Plumbing & Air Conditioning at 281-603-9949 today! We offer our plumbing services and HVAC services in KatyCypressSugar LandThe WoodlandsSpring, and the Greater Houston Area.

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