What Causes A Blocked Stormwater Drain And What Should I Do About It?

  • William Demirdonder
  • Feb 16, 2022
  • No comments
  • 15-minute read
What Causes A Blocked Stormwater Drain And What Should I Do About It?

Your stormwater drain can be blocked for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, do you know what “stormwater” is?

When it rains, water runs off your roof and into downpipes, or off the ground and into the nearest stormwater drain. This is called “stormwater”. After flowing into gutters or drains, stormwater runs through underground stormwater drains into natural waterways, creeks, rivers or bay/ocean without any treatment to remove pollution.

Your Stormwater Drain is designed to safely transport large volumes of rainwater away from your home and property and back into our waterways. So it’s very important to keep it clear and unblocked! Your home’s stormwater drain should only be used for rainwater, it’s not a place to sweep debris, litter or pour any debris or rubbish into. In fact, doing this is the main reason your stormwater drain could be blocked! 

Please note; your stormwater drain is separate from your main sewer drain. Your main sewer drain carries wastewater to a sewage treatment facility where it’s chemically treated before being reintroduced to the natural environment. 

What Does Your Stormwater Drain Look Like? 

A stormwater drain will look like a sunken drain in your backyard or concreted outside area, a grated drain on the street or a slab covered open drain on the side of the road. You could have a downpipe connected straight into a stormwater drain near your home also. 

How To Prevent Blocked Stormwater Drains

 Stormwater drains are purpose-built to handle, move and process large volumes of water away from your property. Most homeowners and building managers will not notice a blocked stormwater drain until a heavy rain incident or large storm where the drain quickly becomes completely blocked with debris and water starts to pool or flood around the drain.

However, there are some warning signs you can look out for that can prevent blocked stormwater drains.

If you’ve noticed your stormwater drain-blocking very fast with any rainy day, you could have a blockage in your stormwater drain that’s restricting the flow of water. Also, if a minor rain event is causing any type of flooding to your garden or property; if rain is gushing through your gutters and pipes, or you hear gurgling sounds from your drains in any rain event, you could have a blocked stormwater drain.  It would be wise to engage a professional, licensed plumber or blocked drain specialist to attend to your stormwater drain ASAP and inspect the drain for any blockages and tree roots. 

Blocked Storm Water Drain Case Study


The Issue

A strata block that our team at Proximity Plumbing has routinely worked with for years, experienced constantly blocked drains. Their drain issues were mostly due to a large Ficus Tree located on the street in front of the building, spreading its roots throughout the pipe system.

The Work

We worked on the line every 6 months with regular drain and pipe maintenance, including high pressure jetting and drain clearing. The building’s managers were proactive and wanted to ensure that all plumbing lines were free-flowing so that whenever Sydney was hit with a severe storm, the pipes would be unaffected. However, the blockages were becoming more severe so we knew extra measures had to be taken.

Our team managed to get a visual of the interior of the line using a CCTV plumbing camera and provide an extensive report and offer a more permanent solution.

Unfortunately, pipe relining was not an option at this property and we were required to proceed with a more conventional method of keyhole excavation.

After obtaining approval, we proceeded with works to find just how extensive the tree root issue was, and how severely it was affecting the building’s pipe network.

The Result

Instead of just removing the tree root and completing the job, we actually put the job on hold and had the Waverley Council come in and investigate further. Working together with the council, we were able to save the tree, remove the tree root carefully and make a legitimate claim against the council to save the owners cooperation of the strata block some money. 

This was an overall amazing outcome for all parties involved and we were glad to be of service to the strata managers of the building.

What Causes A Stormwater Blocked Drain?

 In a sudden heavy rain downfall or a consistent downfall of a lot of rain, it’s easy for a stormwater drain to become blocked. When this happens, the excess water has nowhere to go and that’s when we see localised flooding on our roads and backyards. Sometimes, the stormwater drain blockage can even result in low-level flooding of your home or business.  To prevent these emergency (and costly) events, you can take some preventative measures to ensure your home and property are best protected in the event of a massive rain event.

  • Your home’s drainage points and gutters form an important part of the community stormwater management and should be regularly maintained and cleaned. This is especially important in the lead up to any storm season or months of expected high rainfall. 
  • Keep your gutters as well as your backyard free from debris: leaves, twigs, sediment, excess mulch or soil – all can block up a Stormwater drain very quickly! 
  • Make sure there are no physical obstructions or blockages on top of your stormwater drain so in the event of a sudden storm, water can easily flow away from your property.

How To Fix Your Stormwater Blocked Drain

 Just like in our mentioned case study, our team of expert plumbers will use a CCTV sewer camera to inspect your stormwater pipes and drain to see exactly what is causing your stormwater blocked drain.
The camera will also show if there is any structural damage to the pipes, and depending on the extent of the damage we can repair and replace it.  To clean and clear your stormwater blocked drain we would most likely use a jet blaster. These bad boys send a high-pressured jet of water down the drain to flush the stormwater line of any debris or sediment that has accumulated. 

Our team at Proximity Plumbing are equipped with the best tools of the trade, including jet blasters capable of clearing garden debris, dirt, sediment, and tree roots that could be causing your stormwater drain to block. If you’re looking for a more preventative approach and want our team to assess your stormwater drain for any potential threats or blockages, the high-pressure jetting can be used to clear any sediment of build-up of matter before a flooding incident.  Our team routinely carries out stormwater drain clearing for both residential homes, strata buildings and commercial properties. 

Is A Stormwater Blocked Drain A Plumbing Emergency? 

 A Stormwater blocked drain is considered a plumbing emergency. This is because a blockage can present a threat to our waterways, public health and marine life. Due to the mix of debris, chemicals and even waste found in stormwater drains, the water that floods around the stormwater as a result of a blockage can become contaminated, carrying disease and toxins. Not to mention that a blocked stormwater drain increases the risk of flooding to your road, driveway and even your home or building. So a stormwater blocked drain must be handled as an emergency plumbing situation and should be handled by a professional plumbing team. 

Call our team at Proximity Plumbing today on 0420 102 394 to speak about how to inspect and clear your blocked stormwater drain. 

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