Agricultural drains are designed to improve subsurface soil drainage, increase soil aeration, lower high water tables, and enable faster soil drying, especially in spring. Although these artificial subsurface drainage systems do a lot of good things for both residential and commercial properties, they can also cause damage.

When an agricultural drain is not installed correctly, it can end up harming the structure it was installed to protect. If your home or building has an agricultural drain, you’ll want to keep a close eye on it to identify signs that may indicate a problem that could result in damage to your foundation.

Read on to learn what agricultural drains are, how they work, how they can damage homes and buildings, and what you can do if you think you have a problem.

What Is an Agricultural Drain?

An agricultural drain consists of a trench that contains a perforated pipe, which is backfilled with sand or rocks. This type of drain may also be referred to as an ag pipe, ag line, agi pipes, French drain, slotted drainage pipe, or soakage drain.

Subsurface water naturally flows through the perforations in the pipe, and the sand or rocks around the pipe filter out any organic debris within the water. The pipe then carries away the water, which drains into a ditch, stream, river, or a larger, municipal drainage system.

Why Would You Have an Agricultural Drain?

Some properties naturally have poor drainage, which leaves the subsurface soil overly saturated when it rains or when an irrigation system turns on. Agricultural drains help the soil drain faster, so that excess subsurface water does not damage plant root systems.

More importantly, agricultural drains help prevent foundation damage to homes and buildings located within areas of poor soil drainage. In some cases, these drains are also used as a remedy for slab heave and to help reduce cracking in houses.

How Can an Agricultural Drain Damage Your Home?

When an ag drain isn’t installed properly, it can actually cause subsurface soil to retain more water, not less. In some cases, these drains are installed with something called geofabric around the perforated pipe. Unfortunately, the geofabric often becomes clogged with soil over time, which prevents water from entering the perforations in the pipe.

When water can no longer enter the pipe that’s designed to whisk it away, that water is forced to accumulate within the trench. If there are heavy rains, the water can build to the point that it floods the trench, and at that point, it will seep back into the ground around the home or building it was installed to protect. When that happens, excess subsurface moisture can damage the foundation over time.

Clogged agricultural drains can also result from a buildup of mineral deposits and/or vegetation accumulating in the drain.

Can You Fix a Clogged Agricultural Drain?

Yes, it’s possible to clear a clogged agricultural drain, but doing so requires commercial-grade drain cleaning equipment and considerable expertise. Generally, a procedure known as commercial water jetting is the most effective way to clean a clogged agricultural drain.

This procedure involves placing a hose into the drain that’s connected to a large reserve tank of water. The hose emits a high-pressure stream of water, which effectively eliminates sediment, plant material, and anything else that may be clogging up the pipe. 

How Often Should Agricultural Drains Be Cleaned to Prevent Home Damage?

There’s really no definitive timeline for cleaning agricultural drains because each drain will develop clogs at a different rate based on its location and other factors. That said, there is a “best” time to clean these drains.

Early spring, autumn, and winter are all excellent times to have your agricultural drain professionally cleaned. Because snowmelt hasn’t yet occurred during these times of the year, the risk of drain flooding is relatively low, so cleaning is a preparatory measure for run-off season, which typically begins in mid to late spring.

Need Ag Drain Cleaning Near the Twin Cities?

If your agricultural drain is causing problems because it appears to be clogged, get in touch with our team at Drain Blaster Bill’s Sewer & Drain Cleaning right away. We specialize in several types of commercial drain cleaning, including ag drain cleaning, drain tile cleaning, culvert pipe cleaning, septic cleaning, and sewer cleaning. We’re a veteran-owned and operated company and have proudly served Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the surrounding areas for more than a decade.

To get a drain cleaning estimate or learn more about how we can help you, feel free to give us a call today at 763-913-8719. You can also request a free estimate online, and we’ll be in touch with additional information.