Metro Vancouver Storm Drain Cleaning and Care Guide

Storm drains are a water fixture that's been gaining awareness in Greater Vancouver. Conscientious homeowners think about them whenever steady rainfall threatens to send sewage back up into their home's plumbing, but recent municipal and provincial initiatives have drawn more attention to the important role that storm drain cleaning plays in the theatre of our daily lives.

As plumbing professionals serving everyone throughout Metro Vancouver, we've kept our eye on news developing around Vancouver storm drain cleaning. Those changes in the local ordinance and new technological innovations have an effect on the problems that we help people with every day.

At Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Vancouver, our local Vancouver plumbers have been paying attention for years because we know how large amounts of rainwater affect pipes over time. Now that those changes are beginning to affect all our friends and neighbours in our local community, we think there are a few things you should know before taking on Vancouver storm drain cleaning yourself.

What Is a Storm Drain?

Also known as catch basin drains, they're grates that cities, developers, and homeowners install to receive and direct the flow of rainwater into larger drains that usually connect to municipal waste systems. Their purpose is to prevent rainfall from collecting in large pools and causing damage during heavy rains and severe storms. The visible grate on the surface covers a larger basin where water and other materials collect. Drainage pipes connect this basin to other systems or sometimes local water sources.

Who is Responsible for Vancouver Storm Drain Cleaning?

Usually, the answer is simple because cities are only responsible for plumbing infrastructure that sits under public property. Vancouver property managers are typically responsible for all the pipes and lines inside their property lines, which includes their sewer lateral. In Metro Vancouver, city services can still help, but they might charge you for the work and that remains true for catch basins on your property.

For Vancouver storm drains, this answer has an extra condition, thanks to the city's unique adopt-a-catch-basin program, which was introduced in 2017 to curb the effects of flooding caused by blocked public catch basins. This unique initiative provides an opportunity for community members to give back by reversing the typical relationship. In this case, you can choose to take responsibility for a specific drainage basin.

Do Homes in Metro Vancouver Need a Storm Drain?

As part of the Province of B.C.'s goal to eliminate sewage overflows, basement flooding, and other plumbing issues, the city is switching to a separated sewer system. You might have seen crews working around the city to make these replacements. Existing combined systems that support many communities transport wastewater and rainwater together in a single pipe. This makes those areas more susceptible to flooding and sewer line blockage during wet weather. You could see how that might be a problem in Vancouver.

A separated system utilizes different lines for rainwater and wastewater. The benefit of that change is you're less likely to be the victim of flooding during inclement weather. The downside is your home will now need new infrastructure to support these changes, namely, storm drains. Property owners in affected areas are expected to make the necessary upgrades at their own expense.

Several communities have already gone through this process, and several more are slated for service. If you don't have a storm drain on your property yet, you may do in the future. Feel free to contact Mr. Rooter Plumbing to inspect your property for plumbing efficiency inside and outside your property. Chances are that we can help you map out your storm drain installation as well as introduce you to other protective plumbing devices for your home.

How Does Vancouver Storm Drain Cleaning Work?

Whether you've adopted a public basin or you're wondering how to clean this new plumbing fixture on your property, the steps to clean a clogged storm drain are straightforward. You won't need many special tools or techniques for Vancouver storm drain cleaning, although you will benefit from access to a dry-wet vacuum if you're dealing with a particularly large mess. We advise everyone to avoid chemical drain cleaners because of the potential for pollution and the damage they cause to pipes. They are also a huge problem for water treatment plants that work hard to remove contaminants and chemicals from our water.

If you are a part of the adoption program, check your email for the seasonal newsletters related to the program or make sure you have subscribed to it to stay in the know. They include care tips and updates about the program. You'll also receive emails during periods of heavy rainfall and upcoming seasonal changes. This will allow you time for preparation, during which you can consult your local Vancouver plumber for assistance and plumbing maintenance services. For your ultimate Vancouver storm drain cleaning care guide, please follow these instructions:

  1. Safety first: Some catch basins are located in potentially dangerous areas like curbs and streets. Always watch out for traffic and stay visible. (Adoption program participants should wear their safety vests.) Wear vibrant clothing and make sure you wear gloves to protect your hands and potentially a face mask and goggles to protect yourself from sewer gas.

  2. Clear surface blockage: Using a rake or broom, sweep away any surface blockage, such as leaves, twigs, large rocks, or litter. Always be careful during this process and avoid using your hands to sift through leaves or pick up objects, as you’ll never know what kind of sharp, foreign objects may have washed down the street. Often, using a grabber will provide you with more protection.

  3. Check the basin: Sometimes, the interior compartment of the catch gets clogged with foreign and hazardous materials that float in on water or fall inside. The covering shouldn't be difficult to remove by either pulling it off or removing a few screws. This will allow you to perform a visual inspection and identify clogs. If you have a wet-dry vacuum, you could use it to clear a moderate blockage and built-up sludge.

TAKE NOTE: Step three is only something that you should do for your private property. Never tamper or remove public covers unless you have specific authorization to do so. Typically, the city will require you to hire a licensed Vancouver plumber to perform the service in public, but the rules may vary from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. We suggest contacting your local municipality for more information before you embark on your storm drain cleaning.

Take Preventative Measures

Sometimes, a catch basin will fail to function because of a major problem inside drainage pipes or at discharge sites. If you experience a serious issue with your private storm drain or find a mess that's too large to clean yourself, it's best to contact a professional plumber for efficient Vancouver storm drain cleaning to avoid future property damage and costly repairs. This way, you won’t jeopardize your safety and can rely on our insured service technicians, who are trained to perform this service. In this common type of situation, we recommend that you also check your home’s plumbing, such as your floor drains. Drain clogs and other issues may be evident and need professional plumbing services.

Taking preventative measures at home is also crucial, especially in terms of protecting your sewer lateral from severe weather conditions. Though Vancouver storm drain cleaning is best completed before the rainy season, it’s also a good idea to have your home’s routine maintenance services booked. Vancouver gets 47 inches of rain on average per year, which is enough to affect multiple neighbourhoods with floods if not taken the right measures of protection. At Mr. Rooter, we help many local clients install protective plumbing devices, including:

  • Backwater Valve: You may have heard of this device that plumbers install on your sewer lateral to prevent a sewer backup from overflowing into your home. This valve is a flap mechanism installed on the sewer pipe’s opening. If it senses a forthcoming backup, it will close the cap and stop any wastewater from coming back. Most properties would have this device installed already, but they need periodic maintenance to ensure they’re functioning properly. They are ideal to have in case your storm drainage system becomes clogged or is compromised.

  • Sump Pump: Homes with basements will certainly benefit from a sump pump installation, which is designed to remove any excess water in your basement and helps control moisture content. It also connects with your home’s weeping tile (perimeter drain) and helps pump away stormwater far from your property. Chances are they dispose of stormwater in your storm drain.

  • Manage Your Yard Waste: Keeping your yard waste off the street and pathway will greatly facilitate your Vancouver storm drain cleaning efforts. Though leaves are ideal fertilizers for your lawn, they’re no good for stormwater maintenance. It’s recommended that you mow away from your pavement and even sweep all the glass clippings back onto your lawn.

Our team of expert plumbers knows the exact issues that many property owners face when it comes to severe weather conditions. They will provide you with the knowledge and expertise to maintain your plumbing so that you, your family, and your home remain safe. When storm drains are affected, it’s easy to believe that the city is responsible for any issues that occur, but it’s important to know that without efficient storm drain cleaning services, your home’s pipework can also suffer.

How Often Should You Get Vancouver Storm Drain Cleaning Services?

Generally, catch basins should be cleaned whenever you notice natural debris preventing water flow. Prolonged jams will result in flooding that may cause serious water damage. Other than clearing the surface, homeowners should consider scheduling routine storm drain cleaning services in Vancouver every year or two. Increased periods of inclement weather will shorten the ideal time between maintenance visits.

Do You Need Vancouver Storm Drain Cleaning Service?

Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Vancouver is here to help our customers with skilled, licensed plumbers and guaranteed satisfactory service. Our experienced professionals bring the skills and expertise to handle everything from storm drain clearing to sewer line repair.

Whether you are in Metro Vancouver or a surrounding area like Renfrew Heights, Sunset, or East Vancouver, you can count on our plumbing technicians to be at your service. We are available 24/7 for any plumbing emergencies in our community.

For all your plumbing issues, give our office team a call at (604) 433-5555 to learn more about what we can do to optimize your plumbing system and ensure you won’t ever fall victim to any plumbing emergencies. We offer a wide range of efficient services that include ceiling leak and household clogged drain and drain cleaning services.