Clogged French Drains

Q:

Is there any way to eliminate sand and mulch that has worked its way into the cracks between the rocks of my French drain other than completely digging up the rocks and flushing the trench? Is there a Drano for French drains, or is this just wishful thinking?
— Houston

A:

Sorry to break the bad news to you, but there is no Drano for French drains that I know of. If fine sand, organic matter and clay have clogged your French drain, you might consider an alternative system to avoid return of the problem. If you use perforated drain pipe, you will first lay an inch or two of gravel in the bottom of the trench, on which the pipe will rest. The drain pipe should be wrapped in a filter fabric. Then, finish filling in with gravel around the pipe, ensuring at least 1 inch of gravel surrounds the pipe on all sides. Four- or 6-inch drain pipes are commonly used, and are easily accommodated by 6- to 8-inch trenches. Be sure to run the upper end of the drain pipe to the surface and cap it so that you can, if necessary, access the pipe to unclog it.

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