Storm drain repair

Did you know you are responsible for storm drain repair as a property owner? Or that your business may be required to maintain storm drain components on your property? Public works and private property owners must work together to ensure a fully functioning storm drain sewer system. 

This guide covers eight essential elements of storm drain repair, cleaning, and replacement.

Storm drain repair is a crucial part of property ownership. Your storm sewer system serves the vital task of carrying rainfall and runoff water away from the street and common areas, helping to prevent flooding and assisting with general sanitation.

Learning your legal responsibilities to maintain parts of the storm drain system will be helpful when planning your maintenance schedule. Whether you choose to do it yourself or hire a professionalaccurate information can only help you.

Read on to learn:

  • How do storm drains work?
  • What part of the storm drain am I responsible for?
  • Storm drain pipe repair.
  • How do you fix a clogged storm drain?
  • The cost of repairing a storm drain.
  • Storm drain clog prevention.
  • Why you should trust a professional to repair your storm drain?
A storm drain that needs to be repaired

How do storm drains work?

Let’s start from the basics: To understand how storm drains work, you must first understand the difference between a few terms. While often lumped together and used interchangeably, storm drain, storm sewer, and catch basins all have different meanings. 

  • Catch basins are voids in the ground intended to collect rainfall and runoff surface water. 
  • Storm drains are one type of catch basin typically located roadside to catch storm runoff.
  • Storm sewers are the interconnected network of pipes to carry the water away to a treatment plant.

The storm drains on your street are connected to a catch basin. Rainfall and runoff water flow into the storm drain and collect in the catch basin. When the water level in the catch basin rises high enough, the water flows into the main sewer system. Storm drain systems are important because they help regulate the flow of additional water into the main sewer system, so it isn’t overwhelmed during heavy rainfall. 

What part of the storm drain am I responsible for? 

1. Know what you must maintain

In most places, as a private or commercial property owner, you are responsible for ensuring the portion of the storm drain or pipe on your property is properly maintained and functioning. City officials expect you to fix any broken or collapsed segments of the storm drain system on your property. 

If you notice the pavement in your asphalt parking lot sinking or flooding, your business property may have an issue with the catch basin. Proper drainage is vital to the longevity and health of any property. If your asphalt covers a broken, clogged, or leaking storm sewer or catch basin, there’s a good chance you will be hiring someone to dig up and repave your parking lot. 

Your city is responsible for repairing and maintaining all issues with storm pipes in the public right-of-way and keeping storm drains free of blockage. 

Storm drain pipe repair

A broken or cracked storm drain pipe will allow water to seep into the surrounding soil, eroding it and eventually creating a void and potentially causing flooding.

2. Find the best option for your repairs

There are multiple ways to address a broken storm drain pipe. In the past, the only option was to dig up the area around the leak and replace the whole structure. This method adds excavation costs and significant time to any repair projects. Many street storm drains are under asphalt pavement, and the area must be excavated, repaired, and repaved before the project is complete. 

Technology has led to the creation of a new method of trenchless pipe repair which rebuilds pipes from the inside out using a specialized epoxy resin and a flexible sleeve to remake the interior of the pipes. This method is much less invasive and requires far less cleanup than excavation.

How do you fix a clogged storm drain?

A clogged storm drain can lead to water accumulating around your house, potentially causing thousands of dollars in damage. 

A group of storm drain pipes

3. Hydro jetting

An experienced, licensed plumber can use a process called hydro jetting to fix a clogged storm drain. Using special equipment and training, they will use a high-pressure water jet to break up any blockages, such as roots, debris, or other harmful buildups.

4. Cable rodding

Also called rootering, snaking, or augering, this method involves pushing a metal cable through the drain pipe in the hopes it will poke and break up any blockage, letting water pass freely. While an expert will likely need called in for a bad blockage, this method is an excellent first step for private property owners before calling a professional. Most hardware stores sell a pipe snake device, which will let you tackle the clog yourself. If the clog is especially stubborn, a professional may use a Picote milling machine, which uses a specialty head at the end of the cable to provide wall-to-wall pipe cleaning.

5. Blow bag

A blow bag or drain bladder is a method using a device like a deflated balloon. It is attached to a water source and the clogged storm drain. When the bag is full of water, a powerful rush of water is sent through the pipe in the hopes it will break up the blockage. Beware, as too much water pressure can damage pipes, particularly older ones with weak joints.

The cost of repairing a storm drain

 6. The costs and what they depend on

Depending on the severity of your storm drain break or clog, location, time of year, and method of repair, costs to repair your storm drain could range from hundreds for minor clogs to thousands for severe breaks. The cost to replace the broken elements could potentially be a lot higher. 

As one might expect, the more intensive the required repairs, the more expensive the project cost. Try to plan for potential repair or replacement costs in your maintenance schedule if you’ve been having drainage problems for a while. You might have something more serious than a simple repair wrong with your system. 

This storm drain needed clog prevention

Storm drain clog prevention

7. The problems you can avoid with prevention

By practicing storm drain clog prevention, you can avoid problems with your storm sewer system altogether. 

  • The best way to prevent a clog in your storm drain is to clear away debris around storm covers. Keeping the covers clear helps reduce the number of twigs, leaves, and trash that make it into the storm sewer and potentially cause clogs. 
  • Clear the path if you spot something along your street’s curb blocking the water flow to the storm drain. 
  • Plant trees and shrubs away from storm drains and pipes to prevent roots from clogging the system.
  • Keep leaves and other yard waste away from the storm drain. It will lead to clogs over time, costing you a lot of money to repair. 
  • Clean your home’s gutters mid-fall. Gutters direct rainwater away from your home and toward the sewer system. Clean gutters will ensure rainwater properly works its way to the sewer from your roof. 

Why you should trust a professional to repair your storm drain

8. Choose a professional

Professionals are experts, and they can get your repair completed to a standard the average homeowner cannot match. The health of your storm sewer system affects a wide area around you, and maintaining the system should be a priority. However, you may not have the skill or expertise to complete a complicated repair or may not be certified in the specialized materials necessary to fix the problem. Hiring a professional to complete your repairs allows you to utilize their skills, tools, and experience, ensuring your project is of the highest quality. With a skilled team of experts, your storm drain repair will remain in working order for many years to come. 

Professional teams should have insurance coverage in the unfortunate event of unforeseen circumstances or accidents leading to further damage. They are fully trained experts completing similar work regularly, giving them the experience to complete repairs quickly and accurately. 

Hiring an expert gives you access to the various storm drain repair methods you wouldn’t have otherwise, like hydro jetting or epoxy resin pipe relining. If you must excavate the damaged area, a professional is required to ensure no other utility lines are damaged and keeps service disruptions to a minimum. A professional will also ensure properly poured new pavement to cover the repair. 


Storm drain repair and maintenance are important aspects of property ownership. It is vital to know the various elements involved when your storm drain, catch basin, or storm sewer needs repaired, cleaned, or replaced. Securing the help of a professional ensures your repairs are made properly while providing insurance protection in the event of accidents.