Mon to Fri:

7:00AM to 5:00PM

Customer Reviews Graphic

Signs of a Blocked Stormwater Drain You Shouldn’t Ignore

30 October

Flooded Sewer

Effective stormwater drainage is crucial for preventing property damage and maintaining the overall integrity of your home. However, when stormwater drains become blocked, they can lead to a host of problems that shouldn’t be ignored. From minor inconveniences to significant structural damage, the signs of a blocked stormwater drain should be recognised and addressed promptly. 

In this blog post, we will explore the common indicators of stormwater blockage drains that homeowners and property managers should be aware of. By understanding these signs and taking proactive measures, you can mitigate potential risks and ensure the smooth functioning of your stormwater system. 

So, let’s dive in and learn about the signs you should never ignore when it comes to a blocked stormwater drain.

Understanding Stormwater Drainage Systems

Homeowners and local governments need to understand how stormwater drainage systems function to manage runoff and prevent flooding issues properly. These systems collect and channel excess rainwater and snowmelt away from buildings and roads through ditches, gutters, gutter guards, pipes, and storm sewer infrastructure. 

Runoff typically flows into roadside drains and drop inlets that funnel water underground through culverts and pipes, often leading to a nearby waterbody such as a river, stream, lake or ocean. Larger municipalities usually have complex municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s) that convey runoff through multiple interconnected channels. 

Blocked Storm Drain

The goal of any stormwater drainage system is to safely transport precipitation away from developed areas within a certain timeframe to prevent ponding. However, these systems can become overwhelmed during heavy rains if inlet stormwater grates are blocked or pipes are restricted due to lack of maintenance. 

Property owners and municipalities must work together to keep stormwater drainage pathways clear through preventative cleaning and inspections to avoid costly flood damage.

Common Causes of Blocked Stormwater Drains

Many frequent factors can obstruct stormwater drainage systems over time if not properly managed and prevented. One of the most prevalent issues is the accumulation of debris and other materials that wash into drains during rainstorms. Leaves, sticks, litter, mulch pieces, and other yard waste flushed from properties are major contributors to blockages. Areas with dense tree canopy are particularly at risk in the fall when deciduous trees drop their leaves en masse. 

Improperly secured solid waste bins or loose construction materials left outdoors can also make their way into drains. Meanwhile, overgrown vegetation such as shrubs, groundcover plants, and trees themselves frequently intrude into pipes and channels with encroaching root systems over the years. 

Clogged Storm Drain

Certain tree roots, especially, are very effective at penetrating subsurface infrastructure in search of water. Once established inside tight drainage spaces, roots swelling from seasonal growth cycles or water absorption can slowly strangle or even split pipes apart. 

Another common drain-clogging culprit stems from fats, oils, and greases dumped from kitchen sinks. Food byproducts and cooking residuals that solidify coat pipe interiors and progressively reduce water flow areas. Settled sediment transported by stormwater runoff accumulating in drains at low points also diminishes capacities. Another common sign of a sewer blockage is that the shower drain, sinks and toilet in your home may present with gurgling sounds or begin to overflow.

Contractors additionally sometimes fail to sweep work sites thoroughly, leaving debris that blocks inlets. These various factors build upon each other, progressively worsening drain clogs if not routinely addressed through cleaning and maintenance by homeowners associations or municipalities.

Signs of a Blocked Stormwater Drain

Homeowners and property owners need to be aware of the signs that a stormwater drain may be blocked. Some key indicators of a blocked drain include:

Ponding water

Standing water or pooling that does not drain after a rainstorm is a clear sign of a drainage problem. Water is unable to flow through a blocked drain.

Gurgling or bubbling sound

A gurgling or bubbling sound coming from drains or manholes when it rains can indicate trapped water with no outlet.

Drain Unblocking

Slow draining 

Sinks, tubs, or other areas taking an unusually long time to drain out after use may point to an upstream blockage limiting flow.

Sewer smells 

Strong odours emanating from drains can be caused by sewage backing up due to a blockage further down the line.

Flooding or water damage

Flooded areas or water intrusion into buildings during rainstorms is an emergency sign that drain capacity has been exceeded due to a blockage.

Potential Consequences of Ignoring Blocked Drains

If blocked stormwater pipes are left unaddressed, it can lead to serious issues that escalate over time. One of the most immediate dangers is flooding, as water will back up above ground when the drainage system is compromised and at capacity. Even small amounts of standing water can cause costly property damage through moisture intrusion into building materials. 

Basements and lower levels are especially at risk for water damage to floors, walls and contents. Prolonged flooding also increases the threat of infrastructure damage, as saturated soil and continuous pressure can undermine foundations and roadways. 

Health risks also expand when standing water is allowed to pool, as it creates a prime breeding habitat for mosquitoes and other pests that spread illnesses. Stagnant floodwaters also pose contamination risks if residential or commercial chemicals are washed into the overflow. Environmental damage may occur, too, as polluted runoff spills into nearby streams and lakes, affecting water quality. 

Clogged Storm Drain With Leaves

Over the long run, neglected blockages can accelerate system deterioration and outright failures such as collapsed pipes. Homeowners may face expensive repairs and legal battles if flooding spreads to other properties. 

Municipalities dealing with overwhelmed drainage networks will see maintenance budgets strained and safety services hampered during storms. With proper preventative maintenance, most of these costly consequences can be avoided before they arise.

Preventive Measures and Maintenance Tips

Many proactive steps can be taken to help prevent blockages in stormwater drainage systems and keep water flowing freely. Conducting regular visual inspections of all inlet structures, outfalls, culverts, and accessible segments of underground piping allows any developing issues to be identified and addressed before becoming serious problems. 

A scheduled maintenance program establishes set timeframes for activities like debris cleanups, jet vacuuming of lines, root cutting, and sediment removal from low spots. Keeping nearby landscaping well-managed so leaf litter and small branches do not accumulate near drains pays dividends. 

Street sweeping programs that periodically vacuum up sand and grit from roadways before it washes away can significantly reduce long-term deposits. Adjusting municipal land use codes to limit the planting of root-invasive trees under or adjacent to drainage infrastructure also helps future-proof systems. 

Stormwater Grate

Public education encouraging proper disposal of fats, oils, and greases can influence household behaviours that lead to blockages. New installations should incorporate accessible cleanout ports to facilitate routine flushings as well as consideration of self-clearing velocities. 

Communities benefit from coordinated efforts between public works, parks, and inspection departments to comprehensively address both municipal and privately owned infrastructure as part of capital improvement plans. Contingency measures like temporary pumps and sandbags ensure preparedness for heavy storms. Consistent prevention and maintenance by all stakeholders can greatly extend the service lifespans of drainage assets and reduce long-term management costs from repairing damage from neglected systems.

Don’t Let Stormwater Woes Rain on Your Parade

Promptly addressing signs of stormwater drain blockage is important for preventing further drainage issues and potential property damage. If you notice any warning signs discussed in this article, like ponding water, soggy yards, or plumbing backups following rainstorms, it’s best to get professional assistance. 

The experts at Gold Coast Plumbing Experts have extensive experience evaluating and unclogging blocked drainage systems. We can quickly determine the source of blockages and have the tools and equipment to clear restrictions from any part of your drain network. 

By catching problems early, more extensive repairs or renovations can often be avoided. Don’t ignore signs that your critical stormwater drains need attention. 

Contact the friendly team at Gold Coast Plumbing Experts today to discuss your drainage concerns and schedule an inspection. Our skilled technicians can ensure your drains flow freely to protect your home or business.