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How To Maintain Your French Drain

A French drain is a pipe that is used to collect excess water in the soil around your house and throughout your property. Knowing how to maintain your French drain can help you improve drainage throughout your property and can prevent problems like the development of swampy areas in your grass.

Watch for Problems

The first step to maintaining your French drain is watching for problems to develop. Your home's French drain is a perforated pipe that runs under the ground beneath a layer of rock or gravel. Follow the path of the gravel around your property to identify the location of the French drain. After rain storms, watch your yard for puddling water and the development of swampy areas in the vicinity around the French drain.

If water puddles develop, this is a sign that your French drain is clogged and needs maintenance. If the French drain runs along the foundation of your home, watch for the development of excess moisture in your basement. This too is a sign that your French drain is clogged.

Snake the Drain

Once the French drain system starts to show signs of a clog, your next step is to snake the drain. Start by finding the opening of the drain in your yard. The opening will be a hole in the grass, probably located at a low point in the soil. If the entire top of the drain is covered in gravel, then all you'll need to do is follow the path of gravel around your yard until you locate the drain's opening. If the gravel is covered in soil and grass, then the only way to find the opening of the drain is to look for the hole.

Once you find the opening of the drain, use a plumber's auger to snake the pipe. Stick the end of the auger in the opening, then use the manual crank to drive the cable into the pipe. If you're using an electric snake, turn on the machine to drive the cable into the pipe. When the cable finds the clog, extract the cable, then flush the pipe with a spray of water to wash out any remaining debris.

Check the Landscape Fabric

Your French drain will be covered with a layer of landscape fabric that prevents soil and rocks from filtering down into the pipe through the perforations. If the landscape fabric has deteriorated, this may be what led to the clog in the pipe. To protect your pipe, remove the gravel from around the pipe, then remove the old layer of landscape fabric. Replace the landscape fabric with new fabric, then cover the pipe with more gravel. If the gravel over your pipe is covered in soil and sod, then you will need to dig up the soil to replace the landscape fabric.

For more information about how you can maintain your French drain, talk to your landscape artist or gardener. He or she can give you tips for maintaining your French drain.