Virtually every home will have at least one area drain, yard drain, or trench drain. In most cases, where a home is surrounded by paved or cemented surfaces, there will be multiple drains. That is because paved surfaces cannot absorb rainwater. An area drain will be most helpful and important for you to have outside the entrance to a basement, or at the bottom of any stairwell. In the case of driveways, a trench drain is typically installed. That is where the most rainwater can accumulate on your property during a heavy rain. Heavy water can also accumulate during a snow melt. Many people do not realize property and basement flooding frequently occurs during the Wintertime after a snow melt.
Like many secondary plumbing fixtures or drains, a drain located outside your home working properly may be an after-thought. That may be the situation in your case, until that trench or area drain failure results in you getting flooded. Take relief in that most area drain issues are easy to address. Also note that even complicated ones can be addressed within one work day.
The 5 most common Trench and Area Drain problems
Some of the most common yard, trench, or area drain issues can be broken down into 5 categories. Note that none of them is difficult to fix in relation to typical underground drain repair work. What follows is a quick overview of what you may encounter when a trench drain or an area drain does not function properly:
1. Drain Maintenance
The most common yard, trench, or area drain problems stem from a lack of maintenance. That is, simply cleaning off the grating and removing leaves, dirt, and the like. You should consider putting a drain strainer over your existing grating. An inexpensive strainer will give much added protection.
2. A Cracked Drain Grating
Over time your grating can crack, break, or corrode altogether. A new drain grating costs between around $20.00 and $100.00 depending on the drain hardware. No matter the hardware, a grating is a small expenditure. Just make sure to measure 1st for proper sizing. Trench drain and area drain gratings do vary is size and shape.
3. Dirt and Debris Filled Drain Sump
The sump under the grating can get filled with dirt. This will block off the drain pipe from working properly. Your sump can be cleaned by hand. If the pipe itself is clogged, it can sometimes be washed out using a garden hose. If that fails call a professional drain cleaner.
4. A Cracked Drain Sump (Pit)
The drain sump itself may crack or fall apart. Rebuilding a drain sump is an easy task for a cement mason, frequently only taking only a couple of hours. Note that any drain sump must be tight and waterproof.
5. Cracked Piping Connecting The Drain
A drain’s piping itself may crack or fails. Because area drain piping is shallow, and has a short run, replacing it is fairly easy for a skilled plumber. A key is to also ensure the original installation was done to code, and worked properly to begin with. This is yet another reason to hire a licensed plumber.
What if no area drain exists or is not functioning?
In some areas outside your property, a lack of a trench drain or an area drain can result in the minor inconvenience of pooling water. This case may apply to paved areas on the side of your home, or in your driveway for instance. However, a non-functioning or non-existent area drain in front of your entrance can be another story altogether. In particular if that entrance is below grade, such as to your basement.
A large volume of water can be present after a heavy snow melt, or rainfall. When that water is flowing down your stairwell where no area drain is present, it can easily flood out your home. That is why a little bit of maintenance, or a low-cost repair can easily outweigh the price of correcting water damage after the fact. So, if you see you have a clogged, covered, or broken area drain or trench drain, take action now. Call an area drain, yard drain, and trench drain specialist.
There may be locations around your home that should have an area drain, but none was ever installed. Likewise, your existing area drain may never have been installed properly in the first place. If you have recurring water issues, one or the other of these issues may apply to you.
Repairing an existing Area Drain or Trench Drain
Repairing an existing a drain outside your home can run the gamut from simply rebuilding the sump under the grating, to replacing the drain pipe connecting it to the house drain. Either of these issues can be handled easily by a professional plumber. If you live in the NYC area, feel free to contact Balkan Sewer And Water Main Service for expert advice and repairs. Repairs to your outside drain can typically be accomplished in a couple of hours, and almost always within one work day.
Regardless of who you call to work on your drain, make sure to get up-front pricing, a written guarantee, and check for proper licensing. Anyone working on your drain line should understand plumbing, local code, and be insured. Why you may ask? As just one example, improper area drain line connections can result in noxious sewer gases escaping in and around your property. Hiring an unskilled, unlicensed, and possibly uninsured individual would leave you with little recourse. See below for some key points to make sure your repaired or new area drain will work properly for decades to come.
Installing a new area drain
When you think about installing a new area drain contact a licensed plumber first. Only a licensed plumber will know if an area drain is legal in your area, or on your existing drain system. Some drain systems are not allowed to take on rain water, these are sanitary only systems. In these cases you may have to install a dry well.
A new area drain requires 5 key components to be successful:
- A water tight pit, known as a sump.
- A P trap or single vent trap to catch debris and prevent sewer gases from escaping. A trap must either be installed inside your building, or below the frost level if installed outdoors.
- Being legally connected to your main house drain. Illegal connections can be violated at a later date.
- The use of approved piping materials. Know your local code requirements.
- All piping installed must have proper pitch (also known as slope).
Other key points for proper functioning of an area drain
While the above 6 points are vital, there are 3 other things to keep in mind as well:
- Every drain in your home must have a trap. An outside trench drain or area drain are no different. Without a trap debris can escape into your main house drain, and clog your whole system.
- If the trap on your outside drain is outdoors, if must be deep enough that it does not freeze. A trap virtually always holds water. If that water freezes the drain will not work, and the trap itself can crack and split (just like any pipe with frozen water inside of it).
- Install a screen over your area drain to catch leaves and debris from clogging your drain. Most outside drain problems result from a clogged drain grating.
The advantages of hiring a skilled and licensed plumber
All of the good information contained in this post comes from a NYC licensed and insured sewer and drain company. Balkan Sewer And Water Main Service has been in continuous operation for over 65 years. Do not expect a handyman, or unlicensed drain company, to have the same level of knowledge or skills as a dedicated trades person. Furthermore, an unlicensed and uninsured individual has no repercussions when they perform shoddy work on your home. But, maybe more importantly, a family run business in operation for many decades is putting something more on the line, their hard fought reputation.
Trust licensed and insured plumbers such as Balkan to take the utmost pride in their work. When you need good advice or expert repairs for an area drain, house sewer, or water service line, contact Team Balkan. The dedicated staff of Balkan are available 7 days a week, and up until 9pm for 7 days a week as well.