How Do I Know if My Outside Drain is Blocked?

The signs are apparent when you have a blocked drain inside your home, and you know it is your responsibility to resolve the issue. However, things aren’t always as clear when it comes to knowing what to do with external blocked drains.

Knowing the telltale signs of a drain blockage will help you minimize the risk of problems in the local area and your home. When you notice the most common issues for outside drains, it is also essential, as this helps avoid blockages. Also, knowing who is responsible for resolving a drain problem is useful, ensuring your drainage is working properly.

This blog aims to help you with all these matters and more.

What Are The Warning Signs of a Blocked Drain?

Recognizing a blocked drain as early as possible will help you prevent significant problems from arising, and the following first signs of a blocked drain will help you know what to look out for:

A Bad Smell Outside Your Home

A common sign of a blocked drain is a rotten smell around the drain. If you notice nasty-smelling air, it is worth checking the condition of the drain, and you might find a blockage.

An Overflowing Outside Drain

If water is pouring from the drain onto the street, it is very likely there is a blockage in the drain network.

Water Draining Slowly

While water not flowing freely inside your home might be an internal drain issue, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, the external blockage can be so severe it impacts the inside of your home, too, and water drains slowly. Feel free to discuss this matter with neighbors.


If they have the same problems or telltale signs, it is likely an external blockage impacts the drain system.

Poor Flow of Water

If you notice a poor flow of water from your pipe, it is a sign of a problem in the drain system you need to unblock.

Can an Outside Drain Block Cause Problems?

All blocked drains and sewers have the potential to cause problems. Drainage issues impact pipes, your sink, toilet, shower, bath, and your house in general, so drain cleaning & unblocking is important, says Rider Drains, who is a Durham drain unblocking company.

Why is Your Outside Drain Blocked?

There are many reasons why a sewer drain is blocked, and some of them are preventable.

A Blocked External Drain Due to Debris or Household

Many discarded items cause a build-up and for outside drains and pipes to be blocked, including:

  • Leaves
  • Food debris
  • Rubbish debris
  • Coffee grounds
  • Sanitary items
  • Face mask
  • Wet wipes
  • Grease

Mind how you Flush Items or How Debris is Pushed Down Into a Pipe or Sinks

Carefully disposing of debris and household items (rather than flushing down the toilet or pushing down the kitchen sink) and keeping the area outside of your house clean will help minimize the likelihood of a blocked drain or a bigger problem arising.

Problems Further Along the Line

Much as a blockage in an outside drain can impact the water flowing through your home, issues in the sewer network or a septic tank can impact how outside drains work. Reviewing these issues is often a last resort, but if you cannot find a case, it is worth checking out problems in these areas.

Who is Responsible for Unblocking an Outside Drain?

You need to know where the drain is on your property, and if the external drain is in your property boundary, you are responsible for the repair and maintenance of these drains. For an outside drain on your property or lateral drains that are shared with neighbors, the relevant water company is responsible for maintaining these drains and should unblock them.

In some cases, a local council and their environmental health department might get involved to unblock a drain issue.

Items You’ll Need When Removing a Blockage From an External Drain

To help you block an external drain, the following items will be of benefit:

  • Rubber gloves and protective clothing
  • A drain rod or drain rods
  • Bin bags and a bucket
  • Pressure hose
  • Screwdriver

Can You Remove a Drain Cover?

Even if someone else has responsibility for unblocking an outside drain, you might choose to explore the issue. Amongst the top tips is to use a screwdriver to remove drain covers.

Once the drain cover is removed, you’ll have a better idea of the problem, and you might be able to remove some blockages physically.


With protective clothing on, you should reach into the drain and try to find blockages. If you can remove a blockage by hand, do so. This is why having buckets or bin bags close by is of benefit.

Drain Rods are an effective tool in dealing with blocked drains.

Once you have removed all you can by hand, use the drain rod to venture further into the drain. You should twist the drain rod in a clockwise direction. If the drain rodding process is difficult, keep twisting, and when the process starts to feel easier, you should have removed some or all of the blockage.

Professional help might use drain jetting equipment rather than drain rods to unblock outside drains, but there is a greater cost to this.

How do I Unblock an External Drainpipe?

Dealing with an external drainpipe is similar to dealing with internal drains. You should start with boiling water in the drain, and then use a mixture of bicarbonate of soda (or caustic soda) and vinegar.

These ingredients combine to fill the pipe with froth, and you should let this solution settle for a few hours. You can repeat the process if you see some progress, but more needs to be removed.

Sodium Hydroxide or Caustic Soda Deals with Outside Drains and Blockage Problems

Some people use chemical drain cleaners for pipes and drain unblocking, but be careful with these, and they do have a higher cost.

Knowing how to unblock drains is an important skill, especially for external drains. When a drain is blocked, seeing the warning signs helps you prevent blockages before they occur, ensuring the drainage issue never arises or that it is fixed in no time.

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