If you have a modern exterior drain tile that has been properly installed, it should not require much maintenance or repairs. However, older drain tiles that use clay pipe as opposed to pvc pipe or drain tiles that have been installed improperly may need regular maintenance in order to function properly and protect your home from water. Below are several ways that you can increase the effectiveness of your exterior drain tile through regular maintenance without installing an entirely new system.
Install Maintenance Spouts
The first thing you should do if your exterior drain tile stops functioning properly is consider installing maintenance spouts. Maintenance spouts are vertical sections of pipe, usually narrower than the pipe used for the drain tile, that protrude about one or two feet above the surface of the ground. They usually have a cap secured on them to prevent debris from entering the system, but if you remove the cap, you can have easy access to your drain tile.
Many older drain tiles do not have maintenance spouts. This means that when you have issues, you will have to guess where the problem is and excavate to the pipe to fix the problem. Any time you need to excavate, you should consider adding a maintenance spout for future maintenance.
Flush the System
If your system is backing up, there may be debris in your pipe. This can cause the pipe to drain slowly and water to seep into your basement or foundation. The first thing you may consider doing to get rid of debris is snaking an ordinary garden hose into your maintenance pipe and then running the water for a brief period of time. Ideally, you will be able to watch where the water drains to make sure it is flowing similarly when it exits to when it enters.
Pressure Wash the System
If a regular hose fails to dislodge a partial clog, you may need to use a pressure washer. If you have a pressure washer, you can get a special sewer attachment that sprays one jet of water forward to dislodge clogs and two jets to the sides to clean the pipe and propel the hose forward. This can be much more effective than a garden hose.
Repair Broken, Cracked, or Clogged Sections
If your system is still not draining properly after you have used a pressure washer, it is likely you have an intense clog that is caused by roots or a broken section of pipe. To repair this, you will have to excavate. However, to save yourself time and money, you can send a mechanical snake into the pipe and measure to the point where it meets resistance. This will give you a better idea of where your clog is.
When you excavate, you can attach a new pipe to your old pipe with pvc glue, or you can simply lay the new pipe close to the old section of pipe if it is clay.
Waterproof While You Repair
When you have to excavate for a repair, it is important to excavate fully to your basement or foundation. Because the drain tile has not been working properly while clogged, it has put stress on your waterproofing. You should check the waterproofing for signs of decay and add layers if necessary.
The best option for a low-maintenance exterior drain tile is a modern system properly installed by an expert. However, if your old system is still functioning, these are the basic maintenance tasks you may need to do to keep it working. If you are unsure of whether it is time for a new system, you should call an expert and get an assessment of your current drain tile and moisture situation.