When we hear about winter weather affecting our drains, we typically picture forgetting to drip faucets and dealing with a frozen or burst pipe. Or in the worst case scenario, a city water main freezes up and we end up losing water in our houses for a day or two. However, there’s another set of drainage issues that can easily go overlooked: our outdoor drainage systems.
When we refer to outdoor drainage systems, we’re not referring to your sprinkler or garden drains, but rather the drains that carry groundwater and wastewater from your home and yard to the city water mains. Since most of them are underground, they fall into the “out of sight, out of mind” adage. With the recent winter weather we’ve been experiencing here in Washington, we wanted to provide you with some things to keep an eye out for to maintain your outdoor drainage systems and avoid costly repairs.
Clear Snow and Debris from Key Areas
The first thing you’ll want to do is identify and keep a list of each of the drain covers that sit on the surface of your property and lay alongside your house’s foundation. Typically these will be found directly underneath your gutter downspouts and possibly in key areas in your yard that previously had issues with standing water. When winter weather occurs, depending on how dense the snow is, it can build up on top of these drains, blocking water from entering. If high winds are involved, leaves and other debris can add to the blockage.
When the snow melts, water can begin to pool up around the drain, causing dangerous ice patches on your sidewalks and water seeping into your foundation and draining into your basements and crawlspaces. It can also enter cracks in your foundation and refreeze overnight, widening the cracks and eventually leading to costly structural damage.
Frozen Drain Covers
While you’re checking for drain blockages, you also want to make sure to check the inside of the drain to see if any ice has built up on the cover of the drain or at the bottom of the drain itself. This can best be checked by shining a flashlight into the drain. Another common sign is if water is backing up out of the drain or if there’s standing water inside the drain. This can be a sign that there is a blockage somewhere further along inside the drainage system. These backups often result in water getting stuck inside the drain and then freezing overnight. When the water freezes, it expands and exerts pressure on the lining of the drain, which can cause cracks in the drain or breaks in the lines. This can lead to costly repairs and disrupts the flow of water to and from your house. For wastewater drains, this can be noticed by sewage backing up inside your toilets or smells coming from your kitchen drains.
Melting Snow Causing Landscape Shifts
Depending on the amount of snow that you have received and how much how quickly it melts, the resulting water can push loose dirt out of place, disrupting your natural landscape. While this doesn’t sound very important, in areas of your yard that are not tightly packed this shift can cause disruptions to your yard’s natural drainage. Natural drainage refers to groundwater that naturally flows from where it enters your soil at surface level down into underground drainage systems which then carry the water to the water main. When this is disrupted, it can lead to water being able to pool in areas where it would otherwise normally drain, resulting in additional areas of standing water which can affect your landscape and nearby root systems.
How We Can Help
If you’re experiencing some of these issues, give our team a call. We here at All Seasons Earthworks have over 20 years of experience helping homeowners like yourselves navigate the challenges our winter weather poses. We are locally owned and operated, which means we not only understand common issues that arise after winter storms, but we can help you find solutions without breaking the bank. Give us a call today at (425) 263-2075 to schedule a free consultation or simply learn more how we can help.