How To Clean Out Culvert Under Driveway

Date Published: August 1, 2021
Author: Kylee Smith

Clogged culverts are a common problem in rural areas with silt-heavy landscapes and slow-moving water. Sediment builds up inside these drainage pipes, and unchecked buildup can be quite stubborn. Cleaning out the culvert under your driveway can be addressed in three different ways.

Culvert Cleaning Supplies

Clogged culverts cause lawns to flood, and failure to fix the problem can lead to unwanted erosion throughout your landscape. Clogs of different sizes and varying degrees can be located at different points throughout the culvert. That is why there are three easy-to-follow methods for you to choose from when cleaning out the culvert under your driveway.

Pressure Washer

A pressure washer is used to blast out the sediment and debris causing the clog. This method is especially helpful when the clog is located deeper within the culvert. A heavy-duty gas-powered pressure washer is recommended for this task.

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Sewage Jetter

A sewage jetter kit can be used in conjunction with a gas-powered pressure washer to forcefully eliminate a clog in your culvert.

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A shovel can be used to eliminate portions of a clog that are near the entryway of the culvert.

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Culvert Cleaning Tool

A culvert-cleaning tool is specifically designed to clean out culverts and remove clogs. The tool features a pivoting hoe-type head that, once submerged into the clog, extracts debris, removing the blockage.

Cleaning Culvert Underneath Driveway

Ideally, a clogged culvert falls under the responsibility of the municipality in which you live. If not under their jurisdiction, the task falls to you. You can either do it yourself or hire someone to clean your culvert. Luckily, the task is easy. Check out these three easy ways you can clean out the culvert underneath your driveway yourself.

Option One: Clear Entryway Debris Using Shovel

If there is debris clogging either entryway to the culvert, use a shovel to dig out the clog. This method removes debris from the entryway so you can see if the clog runs deeper or is only at the entryway to the culvert.

  • Pro Tip: Be careful not to mess with the slope of the culvert, as the slope has everything to do with proper drainage.   

Option Two: Blast Debris Using Pressure Washer

Use a gas-powered pressure washer in conjunction with a sewage jetter to blast the debris out of the culvert and eliminate the clog. If you can remove the clog using this method, the job is finished. If the clog is not removed using this method, move on to option three to clear your culvert.

  • Pro Tip: Check with your local volunteer fire department to check if they are willing to let you borrow this type of equipment.

Option Three: Use Culvert Cleaning Tool to Clear Blockage

A culvert cleaning tool is powerful thanks to its hoe-type head that pivots, helping to extract debris. Insert the head of the tool into the blockage and begin loosening the debris causing the blockage. Remember, you want to loosen the debris and remove it without damaging the culvert.

  • Pro Tip: If this method is working, keep repeating this process until the clog is removed. Culvert clogs are stubborn, and a little elbow grease may be required to fully clear the blockage.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, the culvert under your driveway is now clear of debris. There is a chain and pipe culvert clearing method that is rather complex and should only be used as a last resort. Most homeowners find that the chain and pipe culvert clearing method should be left to professionals. Most of the time, one of the three methods listed above will clear the clog and clean out your culvert. If a clog remains after trying these three methods, you are better off contacting a professional to clean out the culvert under your driveway.

FAQ: Cleaning Out Culvert Under Driveway

Maintaining a clear culvert is not always easy. Unfortunately, the responsibility of a culvert typically falls on landowners. You know how to clear a culvert, but how do you keep it from clogging again? It is important to maintain your culvert and protect its slope for proper drainage.

What can be put in place to protect a culvert from clogging with debris?

A protective barrier made of cattle fencing can be placed around the sides and over the top of the culvert to prevent debris from entering the piping. This type of barrier still allows for water to freely flow but makes it harder for leaves, dirt, and other debris to buildup within the culvert.

How much does it cost to repair a driveway culvert?

Culverts are sloped to provide optimal drainage. Unfortunately, they can be damaged through neglect or via improper cleaning when clogs occur. When in doubt, hire professionals because repairing a culvert can cost you thousands of dollars.

How long does a culvert last?

A well-maintained culvert typically lasts about 100 years and possibly even longer. Culverts must be placed properly and be kept free and clear of debris for them to not only last but operate efficiently.

What problems are caused by failed culverts?

Considering culverts are used for proper drainage, flooding is one problem that can be caused when they are not working properly. Failed culverts also cause land erosion and can, in ecologically sensitive areas, cause harm to the local flora and fauna.

What are some of the other causes for culvert failure?

If your culvert becomes blocked and is not cleared, culvert failure can occur. It is important to perform routine maintenance to help prevent clogs and culvert failure. Culverts can also fail due to installation-related mistakes, volume and capacity issues, and even certain environmental factors based on the areas in which they are located.


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