5 Signs That It’s Time to Consider Outdoor Drain Cleaning

Are your drains trying to tell you something? The pipes and plumbing systems inside and around your house can communicate – you just have to know how to listen.

When you know what to watch for, you can easily identify many different plumbing problems. Early detection and treatment can help keep small problems from turning into major disasters.

While there are plenty of pipes inside your house, don’t forget about the exterior drainage system. Problems with gutters, drains, downspouts, sewers and other exterior components can cause indoor flooding, mold growth and even extensive damage to the foundation of your house.

Here are five signs there might be a problem with your outdoor drainage system.

1. Basement Water Stains

Keep an eye on your basement. Any underground area has an increased risk of potential flooding. If you see water stains in your basement, you’ll need to determine the source.

Two types of water can potentially show up in your basement. Surface water is water which flows into your house from outside. This can be relatively easy to deal with.

Stains from surface water will be relatively high on your foundation wall. The water is likely from either an overflowing gutter or its surface runoff. The solution could be as simple as a professional gutter cleaning or a minor change in landscaping. Make sure the soil around your foundation slopes about six inches per every 10 horizontal feet.

If the water stain is a line around the entire basement, you might have bigger problems. A high-water mark can be the result of a change in the water table. Another possible cause is runoff from municipal storm drains. The solution is a professionally installed interior drainage system and pumping.

2. Gutter Waterfalls

Keep those gutters free from debris. Dead leaves, dirt and more can clog your gutters, causing water to flow off the sides. If you don’t see a gutter waterfall in action, there are still a few telltale signs you’ll want to watch for. Check the outside of your house for streaks of dirt, mud splatter and paint peeling away in vertical strips.

Be careful if you decide to clean your gutters yourself. Never go on a wet roof. The safest and most effective way to keep your gutters clean is to hire a professional.

In some cases, your gutters might need to be replaced. A professional can determine the proper gutter type for your needs. While this can be expensive, new gutters also help keep your siding free from extensive water damage.

3. Downspout Downpours

Ideally, the downspout will lead any rainwater far away from your home. If a downspout doesn’t work properly, water can seep into your home’s foundation. Once water finds a way inside your floors, furnishings and more are at risk.

This is a problem you want to fix fast. Gutter extensions are often an easy and inexpensive solution. You want the water to flow at least five feet away from your house. Excess water exposure can result in damage costing tens of thousands of dollars, so you’ll want to make sure your gutters are working correctly.

Watch your yard for signs of improper drainage. If rocks, wood chips and similar materials are spread across your yard that might be a sign runoff water is flooding certain areas. Drainage can often be improved through landscape alterations.

4. Foundation Cracking

Water damage doesn’t always start with visible water. Instead, dry cracks in the foundation of your house can also be a sign of potential plumbing problems.

Small cracks in your home’s foundation are a natural product of age. For the most part, you don’t need to worry about any crack under an eighth of an inch. But keep an eye on larger cracks. You can chart growth by making a small pencil line on the edge of the crack and then watch for expansion over time.

Most growing cracks don’t go all the way through the concrete. Instead, the crack is just an area where one load of concrete was stopped and another started. These cracks can be repaired with an epoxy sealer.

Unfortunately, cracks due to drainage issues can be more difficult to fix. Water may be wearing away the foundation. You’ll need to consult with a plumbing professional as soon as possible.

5. Wet or Damp Walls

Water inside the walls isn’t always obvious. While obviously wet walls are an issue, you also want to watch for white or gray crusts. These are mineral deposits left behind when water evaporates. Spalling is another condition to watch for. This is when parts of the wall will flake off, usually in fairly large sections.

In some cases, the problem might be moisture condensing. This usually isn’t a big deal as long as no structural problems are occurring. You can simply scrape the mineral crust off the wall. A plumbing professional can also check your gutters, downspouts and water systems around the area.

In other cases, there might be water leaking into your wall. Deep, widespread spalling is often an indication water might be causing structural problems.

Also, keep an eye out for mold and mildew in your attic. This might indicate the humidity levels in the house are too high, which could be caused by excess water within your house. Even water in the basement can raise the humidity enough to grow mold in the attic.

Sewer Issues and Maintenance

Outdoor plumbing issues often deal with the septic tank or sewer main. Over time, waste buildup can accumulate and slow the pipe speed. Clogs can back up into the house. Wastewater backing up into your home is both damaging and unpleasant. Sewer cleanings are recommended at least once a year.

How to Identify Outdoor Drain Issues

Winters in Yonkers can be harsh. Before the snow and rain begins, you’ll probably want to schedule an outdoor plumbing check-up from a plumbing professional. A few simple steps can ensure water stays away from your foundation and home.

Only professionals have the tools and technique to clean outdoor drains without tearing up your lawn or damaging your pipes. Electric roots can reach deep within a drain to target problem areas. Even roots can be safely removed.

While you’ll notice right away if a sink or toilet in your house isn’t working, outside water systems can be easier to forget about. After all, you don’t want to stand outside in a rainstorm to watch your gutters. But the five signs above are good to keep in mind.

Watch for water lines around your foundation. Check for humidity and mildew. A professional drain cleaning will help keep your outdoor drains safe and functioning properly all year long.