Common Yard Drainage Problems And Solutions

Yard drainage is probably the most overlooked component of a plumbing system. In a landscaped yard, paved area, or swimming pool area, poor drainage can present a whole range of issues. Poor yard drainage makes for the risk of creating a breeding ground for insects, foul stagnant water,  ruined plants and shrubbery, and potential trip and falls. In many instances homeowners tend to ignore such conditions until water drainage problems have become severe. Severe drainage issues can result in you and your family slogging around in bacteria and insect infested tainted water.

Some of the most common yard drainage problems

1. Clogged Yard Drains and Area Drains

Many things can clog yard drains. Because many yard drains are located near a grass area,  the usual suspects are leaves, twigs, grass cuttings, and trash. You can see a small portion of yard drain from the grate and see if an accumulation of debris or sediment is obstructing the water flow. This cure can be as simple as opening the grate when necessary and removing these items lying in the base of the drain. You can use a garden scoop, or simply put on a rubber glove and use your hand.

stairwell drain

A clogged area drain can allow water to enter a basement

It is not advisable to flush them with a garden hose, as these items tend to clog the pipe itself. If there is a long-standing problem that has made its way into the pipe, a sewer cleaning or water jet may be needed. In some cases pushing a pressurized garden hose in and out of the pipe can flush out the debris.

2. Dirt and Debris in Yard Drain

During fall season, a heavy load of dirt and debris can easily enter the yard drain. As the leaves begin to dry and fall from the trees, many of them get stuck under the grate. Carrying out yard maintenance and regular cleaning or mowing can help prevent clogging.Before heavy Spring rains always make sure your yard drain gratings are cleaned of any sediment or leaves. This simple step can save you from a flooded area, or property damage, as many area drains are located just outside of an entry door.

While leaves are common culprits, tree roots present the more serious threat. As tree roots often look for the nearest source of water, and drain line are shallow, it is not unusual for roots to penetrate yard drainage lines. Yard drains provide the moisture that the roots need, and roots are strong enough to penetrate through old pipes, causing breaks and blockages.

3. Low Lying Areas with Poor Drainage

Sloping is another factor. The flooded areas in your lawn, or finished areas, are possibly caused by improper sloping or grading. If this is the case, check how the grading is structured in your property. This can be done using a line level, which is simply a line of rope with a level hanging off of it. A more sophisticated device is a lazer level.

yard drainage

Pooling water can create health issues

Affected areas usually have a poor drainage design, or no drainage system at all. Even when your own yard water usage does not cause the flood, your neighbors’ sprinkler systems can be the problem due to grading issues. But most frequently it is due to rainwater. In some rare cases dislodged sanitary home drain lines can seep waste water to outside the house itself. Needless to say, this poses the most severe health danger.

4. Stagnant Water

Pools of standing water in your yard is clear sign of drainage problem. If this is the case, there can be multiple underlying issues for examples existing hardpan (soil with a high clay content has very poor drainage qualities) in your property and poor grading. A hardpan calls for site-wide inspection and possibly a new drainage plan; these will involve excavation in wide areas of the lawn. In areas with high rainfall, pools of standing water make your yard not only aesthetically unpleasing but also a breeding ground for insects, hence health problems. Stagnant water creates the perfect environment for the following insects to breed and thrive: Mosquito, Fly maggots, Dragonfly nymphs, and Water scorpions. Some insects are more than just nuisance. They are known to be carriers of dangerous diseases.

Yard Drainage Solutions

To prevent all those issues, the obvious solution is to install proper yard drainage, have it regularly checked for issues, or install a water receptacle such as a drywell. Maintenance is the easiest part; installing a drain and drywell are jobs best left to professionals. In some cases a simple fix can be to extend the roof gutter downspout further away from the affected area. Creating a creek bed can be good idea, but this can involve a lot of work and know-how.

For a more permanent solution, you need to call a professional plumber or architect to determine the real problem, and then recommend the most viable approach to solve it. Building a new drainage system or unclogging severely damaged yard drainage pipes can be quite expensive. But relieving yourself of a potential health issue, potential liability,and raising your quality of life, should make it well worth it.

1. Installing a Yard Drain

Before the actual installation begins, a professional needs to understand the layout of your property. Local plumbing code can also be a factor, not all public or home sewers are allowed to accept rain water. This will include driveway, patios, landscaping, garage roof runoff, distance to the street, etc. A plumber can determine low and down spots in the yard using a leveling method.

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Pre cast area drain

Yard drains are intended to direct water to a municipal storm or combined sewer, a drywell, detention tank; but not to your neighbor’s property. For large scale plumbing modification, chances are you need permit and approved plans. Professional plumbers understand the local code and regulations. And a licensed plumber is capable of securing the proper permits on your behalf.

2. Installing a Drywell

A drywell is an environmentally friendly solution or addition to an existing yard drainage system. Instead of allowing water to flow to a municipal sewer system or absorbed by soil, a drywell discharges excess water into the soil surrounding the drywell itself. With the help of downspouts and drains, water is directed to the drywell, in which a natural filtering process happens. Water will eventually end up as local groundwater.

A drywell is effective when you have layer of hardpan in the yard; digging through the hardpan will allow water to enter more porous soil in deeper location. Like any plumbing installation it has to be carefully designed and sized out. It also involves testing the surrounding soil for its absorption rate. A poorly designed drywell will serve little purpose, and be a needless and costly addition.

3. Yard Drain Maintenance

Yard drainage is not something that maintains itself without any maintenance. Yard drains require regular maintenance or cleaning to make sure everything works as intended. Simple cleaning near the grate area and occasional flushing with a garden hose should be enough to keep the pipes free from dirt and debris accumulation. Hydro Jet cleaning is also good idea, and it is safer to call a plumber to do it for you.

In some cases the wall of an area drain will become porous or disintegrate. They can usually be easily repaired and made water tight. But a not-too costly option is purchasing and installing a pre-cast iron or composite area drain sump pit. They are typically nicely designed, inexpensive,  extremely long-lasting, water-tight, and trouble free.

4. French Drains

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French Drain installation in progress

One of the oldest and most widely used yard drainage systems is a French drain. Basic construction is comprised of perforated pipes, wrapped in filter fabric and crushed stone, to keep debris out. The pipes are buried under gravel and other material through which water can easily penetrate and enter the pipe. This system is effective to disperse water through the landscape or direct it to drainage. A French drain is ideal for when water accumulates at a high point in the yard, such as in front of a retaining wall. The French drain then directs the water to a lower point using gravity.

Yard Drainage Professionals

No matter what your yard drainage issues may, they are most often best left to a professional. Issues such as soil conditions, slope of the ground, calculating volume of water, and plumbing design, are just some of the issues involved in devising a resolution to a drain problem. Needless to say, these are not considerations easily tackled by a homeowner. before you spend time and money needlessly, it is suggested you contact your local licensed plumbing and drain professional.