Top tips for clearing outside drains blocked with mud

Outside drain blocked with mud? Don’t call the plumber yet; you might be able to fix it yourself.

Updated

Outside drain grate blocked with leaves

Key steps

  1. Remove the grate cover.
  2. If you can reach the blockage, put on waterproof clothing and remove what you can.
  3. Break up the remainder with a drain rod.
  4. Blast a hose down the drain.
  5. Regularly clear away surface-level blockages to prevent more severe problems.

Outside drain blocked with mud or leaves? It may be tempting to ignore it, but blocked drains can cause flooding, property damage or even health problems, and they’re your responsibility if they’re on your property. Here’s how to clear blocked drains outside.

Usually, when dealing with an outside drain blocked with mud or leaves, you’d reach for the drain rod after clearing away what you can by hand. If the drain is full of water, though, you may want to use your drain rod to poke holes in the blockage and let some of the water drain away first, so you’re not reaching into the water to grab things.

How to clear blocked drains outside: recognising and identifying the problem

You probably don’t spend that much time looking at your drains, so you might only realise there’s a problem when you notice an unpleasant smell or slow-draining water.

If you’ve got an outside drain blocked with leaves that have fallen on top of it, it’s usually obvious, and it may just be a matter of clearing away the leaves from the surface with a litter picker or gloved hands. It’s a good idea to clear away surface-level blockages whenever you notice them, so they don’t work their way deeper into the drain and end up causing problems that are harder to solve.

Sometimes, though, after identifying the problem drain, you’ll need to put on waterproof gloves and remove the drain cover to work out what’s gone wrong.

How to clear blocked drains outside: dealing with it yourself

If you can actually see and reach what’s blocking your drain, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to sort out the problem yourself.

If you’re digging around in your drains, though, gear up first. Bacteria tend to build up around drains, particularly blocked drains, and you could make yourself ill if you dive straight in without protection. Wear sturdy protective gloves, such as thick rubber gloves or gardening gloves, and cover your arms with something long-sleeved and waterproof. Put on goggles to protect your eyes, and mask your nose and mouth. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

  1. Using your gloved hands, clear away what you can reach. It helps to keep a bucket to hand, rather than dumping mud onto the ground and leaving yourself to find a way to deal with it later.
  2. If there’s more blocking your drain further down, you’ll find a drain rod useful. This is a long, flexible stick you can poke down the drain and use to break up whatever’s blocking it.
  3. When you’ve divided the blockage up into manageable chunks, grab a hose and send water down the drain at high pressure to wash it away.
  4. If, when you’ve done all this, you still have an outside drain blocked with silt, it’s probably best to call in a professional plumber.

Clearing outside drains isn’t the only drainage problem you might find yourself facing. If you’re having trouble elsewhere in the system, you may want to take a look at our articles on how to clean gutters or how to clear a blocked drainage pipe outside.

Originally published