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How and Why You Need to Maintain Your Storm Drainage System

The function of storm drains is to act as a drainage system, ensuring that excess water is directed away and into a sewer system during rainfall to prevent flooding in your yard, on roads, and in other areas. This makes storm drains a valuable service.

Where Are Storm Drains Installed?

Storm drains can encompass both yard drains located around your home and the grated or open curb drains found at crosswalks, street corners, and other locations. Additionally, if you own an in-ground pool, you will have storm drains in place to prevent overflow.

What Are Storm Drains Used For?

Storm drains function by collecting excess freshwater and transporting it through a sewer system to a designated location to prevent flooding. In certain cities, storm drainage systems are connected to water collection basins that may remain empty during periods of dry weather. However, they can begin to fill up after several days of rainfall.

To prevent water from pooling and causing flooding near the foundation of your home, storm drains can be installed around your property to direct water away from your gutters and downspouts. Such a storm drain system diverts water out into your yard and may also be linked to the city’s 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?

Storm drain clogs are frequently caused by natural debris, such as leaves, branches, twigs, grass clippings, sand, dirt, and rocks, which accumulate on top of drains in screens and grates. Failure to remove these materials can completely obstruct water flow, causing the drain water to rise and flood the surrounding area.

Another common cause of clogged drains is the introduction of excessively large objects into the drainage system. While uncovered drains are more susceptible to this issue, there may be other grates and screens underground to filter out debris. If these components become blocked by larger objects, they can hinder water flow, especially during heavy downpours.

Furthermore, plastic bags, fast food containers, plastic bottles, food, aluminum cans, cardboard containers, and other non-biodegradable waste materials can also cause clogs in storm drains, slowly accumulating in the system over time.

Tree roots can also contribute to storm drain clogs. Certain types of drain pipes may allow tree roots to grow through and access the water they require. While the roots may start small, they can grow significantly over time, eventually obstructing the entire drainage pipe.

How to Help Keep Trash and Waste Out of Storm Drains

Here are some common ways to prevent trash and waste from entering city storm drains around your home or business:

  • Keep a lid on trash cans and recycling bins at all times.
  • Pick up any loose trash you see in your yard or along the side of the road near your property.
  • Consider volunteering to help 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.
  • Do not rake leaves into the street unless your city has a leaf collection program that permits it.
  • Do not leave pet waste lying around, as it contains harmful bacteria.
  • Never pour oil, antifreeze, or other fluids into a storm drain.

What Maintenance Needs to Be Done to Storm Drain Systems

Storm drains, like other plumbing systems, require regular maintenance to function properly. The specific maintenance tasks will depend on the type and location of the storm drain system.

Home Storm Drainage System Maintenance

To prevent storm drain clogs around your home, it’s important to perform regular preventative maintenance. Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Inspect drain covers on a weekly basis and clean them as needed to remove any debris.
  2. Repair or replace broken or missing drain covers.
  3. Clean gutters and downspouts in the fall and spring to prevent small twigs and leaves from entering the system.
  4. Install screen covers over gutters to prevent leaves and other debris from clogging the system.

To maintain your storm drain system and prevent clogs, it is recommended to perform a yearly cleaning. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Inspect drain covers weekly for debris and clean covers if needed.
  2. Remove drain covers and clean out any debris from screens or grates.
  3. Clean out excess debris inside the drain pipes, using your hands or a shop vac.
  4. Inspect the termination location of the sewer drain, whether it drains into the yard or is connected to the city’s sewer system.
  5. Flush the drain pipes with a garden hose, starting from the first storm drain entrance and checking the termination side to see if the water flows out clearly.
  6. Repeat the process for each storm drain.
  7. Replace the storm drain and termination covers after flushing the system.

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 Maintenance

Cities are generally responsible for maintaining their own storm drain systems, but you can also do your part to prevent clogs and other issues. This includes checking that drain covers near your home or business are not obstructed by debris and clearing any leaves and branches from storm drains on the street. 

If you notice a city storm drain backing up, contact your local water management office to report the issue. Regular maintenance can help prevent problems and keep storm drains functioning properly. 

If you require assistance with storm drain cleaning or other maintenance, you can contact MET Plumbing & Air Conditioning at 281-603-9949. Their plumbing and HVAC services are available in Katy, Cypress, Sugar Land, The Woodlands, Spring, and the Greater Houston Area.

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