How to Unclog a Storm Drain

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Things You'll Need

  • Broom

  • Rake

  • Shovel

  • Gloves

  • Plastic bags

  • Plumber’s snake

  • Pressure hose

  • Water


Some cities offer free leaf pickup–call your local government office or public utility for details.

Plan on checking your storm drains regularly once you see leaves start to fall.


Do not put hazardous waste materials down your storm drain.
Flooding water that can’t get down a storm drain sometimes carries with it waste from your yard, making it even more important that your storm drains remain unclogged.

Keeping storm drains unclogged provides numerous benefits, including reduced flooding. In some areas of the country, ridding the drains of leaves and other debris also alleviates pollution in local creeks since piles of leaves create poisonous gas when they build up in the underground catch basins. This gas causes oxygen levels to fluctuate to dangerously low levels in nearby creeks and streams where fish and other wildlife live. Unclogging your storm drain takes little time, but does require that you watch the drains, especially in autumn, to make sure they stay clean going into winter.

Step 1

Sweep, rake or shovel away the leaves in your outside storm drain, and pile them away from the drain so they do not blow back in again.

Step 2

Pour a bit of water down the drain to make sure it goes down the drain properly if you feel uncertain the drain is completely unclogged.

Step 3

Use a plumber's snake or pressure hose to remove any remaining leaves or debris that you couldn't remove the first time. Make sure to pile up the leaves and debris you collect away from the drain so they don't flow back in.

Step 4

Test it again by pouring a bit more water down the drain to make sure it now drains properly.

Step 5

Call your city government or a plumber to get help with stubborn drains that won't unclog.

Step 6

Dispose of the leaves and debris you collected from the drain according to your municipality's regulations.

references & resources

Nancy Wagner

Nancy Wagner is a marketing strategist and speaker who started writing in 1998. She writes business plans for startups and established companies and teaches marketing and promotional tactics at local workshops. Wagner's business and marketing articles have appeared in "Home Business Journal," "Nation’s Business," "Emerging Business" and "The Mortgage Press," among others. She holds a B.S. from Eastern Illinois University.