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How Do You Know If Your Underground Drain Is Clogged?

Checking of underground drain

The underground drains in your yard play an important role in draining runoff and keeping water from getting into your house, especially if you have a basement. At times, though, they can become clogged, leading to backups, gutter damage, flooding, foundation issues, and other problems.

Since you can’t see much into those underground drains, monitoring whether a clog is developing can be hard. Fortunately, there are ways to recognize signs of clogs, and doing so could help you catch and address a small problem before it can become a big one. And that can save you a lot of trouble, time, and money.

What Are Underground Drains and How Do They Work?

Underground drains are, as the name suggests, underground installations that drain water away from your home, particularly from the roof and the foundation. They’re connected to your gutters via the downspouts and funnel water to the street, sidewalk, storm drain, or underground sewer line. If you have one installed, they can also connect to a French drain system.

French drains are drainage ditches with a layer of rocks or gravel above a drainage pipe. They can be aesthetically pleasing to your landscaping while serving an important function.

When water isn’t draining correctly through your gutters, downspouts, and underground drains, it can pool close to the house and cause water damage, mold growth, and harm to the foundation (eroding its stability over time). It can also kill your grass by keeping it too wet, and it can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other insect pests. It can cause other problems as well, but you get the idea.

If they’re working properly, underground drains form a closed system connected to roofs and gutters that channel water away from the home to where it’s supposed to go.

What Are the Signs of a Clogged Underground Drain?

Some of the signs of a clogged underground drain are virtually impossible to miss, and others take a little more care to detect. The best time to check for signs of a clogged underground drain is actually during the rainy season if you have one or during/after heavy rainfall.  That gives you a chance to observe your drainage system at a time it’s working, so it will be easier to spot any signs of trouble.

That said, you can still check for clogged signs during dry periods. Water stains around underground drainage systems and damp, mushy soil, when it hasn’t rained, can be indicators of clogs.

So, let’s look at what some of those other signs are.

Water Pooling

Water pooling around your underground drains, downspouts, or foundation may be the most obvious sign of a clog in an underground drain. Something is preventing the water from going where it should, and since it has to go somewhere, it goes back the way it came, leading to pooling.

Overflows at the Downspout Connection

In most cases where there are underground drains, the downspouts are connected to them by various adapters. Those adapters allow water to pass quickly and easily from one pipe to another, and they prevent water from leaking out from extensions and joints.

If you see water gushing back out from the drainage pipe or spilling from the seams on the adapters, that’s a good sign of a clog. Because the water is unable to flow down and out properly, it backs up inside the downspout pipe and starts to leak from the seams and joints.

Water Damage in the Basement

When underground drains or downspouts are clogged, water can pool around the base of the home. This isn’t good for the foundation; the water can leak into a basement or crawl space. So if there’s water in those spaces or you see signs of water damage such as rot, warping, dampness, or mold, you might have a clog in the drainage system somewhere.

Gutters Overflowing

Gutters will overflow when underground drains are clogged because they will back up and have nowhere else to go. The water’s weight can damage the drains’ shape and function, and it can cause even more damage if it’s cold enough for the water to freeze.

Overflowing gutters also mean water can pool on the roof, which puts your home at risk of leaks and water damage.

Overflowing gutters aren’t always a sign of a clog in a drain– it could be that the gutters themselves are clogged and need a good cleaning out. Still, if you’ve ruled out the gutters as the culprits, it’s time to consider the likelihood of a clog in a downspout or underground drain.

Western North Carolina already has dozens of lovely waterfalls, so you don’t need any coming from your gutters. If you see that, act immediately before severe damage can occur!

Water Leaking from Seams

We mentioned this earlier, but it bears repeating. If you’re seeing water leaking or spraying from the seams and joints of your drainage system, that’s a definite sign of a clog. You’ll want to get this repaired ASAP so that water can’t pool around the house or damage the downspouts and gutters.

Is It Time To Call a Professional?

If you know or suspect that your downspout or underground drain is clogged, it’s probably time to call a pro. Although you might be able to deal with the clog yourself if it’s in the downspout, it’s still better to leave the job to a professional service with the tools and expertise to find and fix the problem.

Do you have a clogged drain and live near Asheville, NC, or the surrounding areas? Need drain cleaning? Or any other drainage service in the Asheville area?

The Four Seasons Plumbing is a family-owned business serving the Asheville area, including Black Mountain, Hendersonville, and Weaverville, for all plumbing and drainage needs. We’re fully licensed and insured, and all of our technicians are professionally trained and properly equipped.

Let us help you with your drainage solutions today! Give us a call at 828-216-3894, or send us a message today!

Max Rose - Owner of Four Seasons Plumbing


Max Rose

Max Rose is the owner of Four Seasons Plumbing, a plumbing company in Asheville, North Carolina.