Summer is nearly upon us, so many of us will be heading out to the garden to do a spot of titivating. It’s also a time when drain cleaners see a small peak in the number of drains blocked by soil.
Part of the problem comes during dry weather, when topsoil can turn to dust and get blown around on the breezes. Much of the soil dust that lands on the concrete of patios and paths will get washed down the drains when it rains. The small amounts will be carried away by the water and in some circumstances, especially when there’s only light rain for prolonged periods, the soil can settle as silt in the interceptor traps or areas with slow flow. This is how the blockages start. Even large municipal storm drains can get blocked during dry spells as there’s no regular flow to prevent build-ups.
Take care as well if you’re venturing out back for the first time since last autumn. You might want to give paths, yards and patios a good brush, but make sure you put any detritus in the bin or return it to the soil – it certainly shouldn’t be brushed into the surface water drain!
Another time you need to take care is when you’re hosing your borders. You can cause a large amount of splashing, and these dirty, clumpy soil particles full of roots, leaves, sand, pebbles and dust can quickly turn into a blockage in your drain, especially if they have been partially blocked by autumn leaves. A hose head with multiple settings can help here. Use a spray setting, not a soak or jet setting – this will minimise splash. If you have borders around a lawn, making sure there’s a drop of about 10–15 cm (4–6 inches) between the lawn edge and the soil. This will help keep run-off topsoil within the borders. Physical barriers can be bought to make sure there’s no collapse of the lawn edges.
Drain covers can be a useful way of keeping most of the soil, leaves and other detritus out of your surface water drains while allowing water through. They can be bought from all DIY stores for a few pounds, which is a sound investment in our book.