A French drain will help you route water flow to a main drainage pipe and away from the foundation of your house. Made from perforated pipes, they usually require little in the way of maintenance. It's important, however, that you keep up with annual cleaning to prevent the buildup of debris in the pipes. Plan to clean your drain system around the same time every year for the best possible results. Here are some tips to help you clean your French drain system for the first time.
Finding Where it Starts
Most French drains start at the highest point in the land grade. Since water will naturally flow in the path that offers the least resistance, this is the best place to start. Your French drain's starting point may be covered in grass or weeds from growth over time. Clear them away so that the end of the pipe doesn't get clogged up.
Flushing the Pipes
The next step in the process is to flush the pipes out. Insert your garden hose into the opening at the starting point of your French drain. This way, you can run water directly into the lines. Turn on the water so that it's at a medium to moderate pressure. Watch the water flow for any indication that it's backing up in the pipes. If water starts backing up, that's a sign that you may have something clogging the drain pipe.
Applying More Water Pressure
A pressure washer is a great way to add some high-pressure water flow to the pipe. If you're struggling with the potential of a clog in the pipe, this is the best approach. Just be careful about standing directly in front of the opening when you turn it on, because the water could flow back from the clog and spray you. Change the angle of the pressure washer as you flush to clear out the debris as well as to clean any residue from the inside edges of the pipe. If this doesn't clear things out, you'll want to consider a sewer snake instead.
Using the Snake
Feed the sewer snake into your French drain pipe until you feel it meet resistance. Then, you can use that snake to apply pressure on the clog, hopefully breaking it loose. As soon as you feel it start to break up, turn the water supply on to the pressure washer. The combination of both will help not only loosen the clog, but also flush away the debris.
Cleaning your French drain every year will help keep the system flowing properly and protect your property from flooding. If you aren't comfortable doing these steps on your own, a French drain installation and maintenance specialist can help.