French Drain Clogged? No Problem! Follow These Easy Steps to Unclog

french drain is clogged

Mike Cassidy

Drain Specialist & Business Owner at Cassidy & Cassidy Déblocage/Unblocking
Mike has spent most of his life working in the customer service industry, starting back when the term customer service actually used to mean something. Finally fed up of having to follow the lead of others, Mike and his son Sean started their own company Cassidy & Cassidy Déblocage/Unblocking. Together, they are quickly becoming the #1 company for customer service within their industry.

Mike and his daughter started these blogs as a way to start connecting with their customers. With all his years of experience, Mike has a wealth of information many people would find useful. So with this in mind, we created our first, educational Cassidy & Cassidy blog posts.

Still wanting to bring the customer service issues of today to light though, Cassidy Quips was then created. These quips are intended to help people realize that they deserve better when it comes to customer service, and offer them some tips and tricks to perhaps start feeling as though they're constantly getting screwed with their pants on.

These quips may be rants, they may be fun, and with any luck, they may leave you coming back for more!
Mike Cassidy

Did you know the French Drain wasn’t invented in France? It’s true. While some believe it has French origins because during the 1800s Paris had open ditches that were used as drains, the drain as it’s known today was created in Massachusetts.

Farmer Henry French came up with the idea to fill a ditch with stones to drain water away from his farmland. Today, the French drain is popular and used across the U.S.

However, a common issue for many users is when their French drain is clogged. When this happens, taking action right away is a must. Here you can learn about the design of the French drain and the steps to follow to get it unclogged.

The French Drain Design

Before diving into the specifics on how to unclog a French drain, it’s a good idea to learn more about how it works. This will help you understand why clogs are so common in these drains.

The French drain has a somewhat simple design. It’s essentially a trench that slows in a downward direction and that runs to an unused area. A PVC pipe is put in the area and then covered with stone or gravel.

The wider the trench is, the better this drain works. However, this is dependent on the quantity of water you need to eliminate. To work properly, the slope in the drain needs to be angled at a one percent grade or one foot for every 100 feet.

French Drain Basics

As mentioned above, the French drain is a pipe with many holes in its length used to help with yard drainage. If you have a low-lying yard and water often stands or accumulates creating muddy or soggy ground, this drain is useful. It serves as a filter, allowing water to move through the pipe all while providing support for the soil.

French drain, blocked french drain

The entry point for a French drain is typically found at the top of the grade, and it may or may not be connected to your home’s downspout. As time passes, stray soil, tree roots, gravel, and an array of other debris may compromise your French drain.

If you have noticed your French drain isn’t working properly, knowing how to unclog it can be beneficial.

Unclogging Your French Drain

Have you noticed your French drain isn’t working properly? Is there a clog? If so, you can use the steps here to remove the clog and restore proper function to your French drain.

Find One End of the French Drain

You need to locate one end of your French drain. You should be able to easily locate a hole in the ground where the French drain starts.

If you aren’t sure where the drain begins, it’s a good idea to search at the highest point in your yard. This is what helps the water run downhill.

Run Water in the Drain

Once the end of the drain is found, you can use your water hose to send water down it. If the water backs up, rather than running through, you can feel confident there’s a clog. This is when the real work begins.

The Pressure Water Method

The first thing to try when attempting to unclog your French drain is a pressure washer. This will send water at a very high pressure through the drain.

hydro jetting

Stand at the side of the drain when you do this. The water may come back out when it gets to the clog.

Try to point the pressure washer toward the base of the drain to help dislodge the clog. You should also move the spray around to clean all sides of your pipe effectively.

Use a Sewer Snake

If the pressure washer isn’t effective, you can use a sewer snake to clean away the stubborn clogs. You will know the pressure washer doesn’t work if the water continues to come back out of the pipe.

A sewer snake is a long piece of piping you can push down the drain until it reaches the point where the clog is. When it reaches this point, the snake will stop. Continue pushing gently on the clog to try to free it.

When the clog feels looser or if it breaks free, you can turn the pressure washer back on to make sure the entire clog is broken up and that it dissipates down the drain. Continue this process until the water flows freely through the drain again.

The Importance of French Drain Maintenance

While knowing how to unclog your French drain is important, if you provide regular maintenance, this won’t be necessary. Clean away any debris that has built up near the drain and check the opening regularly.

By doing this, a homeowner can help prevent the possibility of a clog. While not all clogs can be avoided, maintenance can help to minimize the problem significantly.

If you aren’t sure you can handle this maintenance on your own, there are professional service providers that can help. Using their services will minimize the likelihood of expensive and time-consuming French drain issues now and in the future.

How to Handle When a French Drain is Clogged

If you are tasked with handling a situation when your French drain is clogged, the steps above should help you take action. After all, if the drain is clogged, it can’t do its job of keeping water out of your yard.

To get help with your French drain, contact us. Our team understands the inner workings of these drains and can help ensure that your drain continues working properly month after month.

Cassidy & Cassidy Déblocage/Unblocking