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How To Maintain Underground Drainage Gullies

When was the last time you showed your drainage gully a little TLC?

A gully is an outside water drain pipe that’s used to discharge surface water from your garden. It carries grey wastewater away from your washing machine, dishwasher, bath, shower and sinks, as well as rainwater from your gutters.

If you’ve noticed that your gully is draining slower than usual or it’s overflowing and causing foul smells and flooding, it’s probably because it’s blocked. And if the blockage isn’t removed swiftly, it could cause even more problems for your home and garden.

The good news is – with the appropriate tools to hand – maintaining and cleaning gullies isn’t too difficult to do yourself


How do you clean a drainage gully?

  • The trick to cleaning drainage gullies and gully traps is to be prepared.

    It can be a messy job, so don your rubber gloves and protective glasses to protect your hands and eyes from any splashback.

    Other tools you’ll need include:

    • a drain rod (available from most DIY stores)
    • a garden brush
    • a flathead screwdriver
    • a trowel or garden spade
    • a bucket
    • a hosepipe
    • access to hot water

    It’s worth reminding everyone in the house not to use the bathroom or kitchen (or switch on the washer or dishwasher), otherwise, you’ll end up soaking wet!

    Here we look at how you can keep your drainage gully well maintained – avoiding smelly drains and eliminating the risk of flooding – in 7 simple steps.

    Step 1: Locate the gully

    The opening of an underground drainage gully will typically be covered by a metal or plastic grate (also known as a gully trap). The gully trap prevents dirt and debris from accumulating and hardening, which ultimately leads to flooding and unpleasant smells.

    Once you’ve located your gully, you want to clear as much of the debris from the trap as possible using your hands. You’ll be grateful for your rubber gloves for this step.

    Step 2: Remove the gully trap/cover

    After you’ve cleared the debris from the top of the drain gully, you’ll then need to turn your attention to the interior.

    If your gully has a trap covering the opening, this will need to be removed. If your gully trap doesn’t have a handle, don’t panic – it’s easy enough to prise it open with a flathead screwdriver. Make sure you’re wearing your protective eyewear as, depending on how stiff it is, you may end up getting splashed.

    Step 3: Check inside the gully

    When the gully trap has been removed, you should be able to look inside the gully and spot any visible blockages. Using either your gloved hands or a trowel, clear out any twigs or leaves that have managed to get through the gully trap.

    Once you’ve cleared the gully, it’s worth trying the taps in the kitchen to see if the water drains smoothly. If it does, then it’s job done. If it doesn’t, continue reading.

    Step 4: Use a drain rod

    For tough blockages that are refusing to budge, you’ll need to use a drain rod. These are normally a metre long and you can screw several of them together if the clog is further along inside the pipe.

    When you encounter a blockage, prod it with the rod to break it down into smaller chunks. This should make it easier to flush down the drain later on. Be mindful though, rotating the blockage in an anticlockwise motion could unscrew the pipe.

    Step 5: Give the gully a rinse with a hose

    Before you reach for the hosepipe, sweep the area around the gully using a sturdy brush. This will reduce the risk of accidentally flushing anything down the gully.

    Once clear, direct the hose down the gully for several minutes to ensure that any silt or build-up is flushed away.

    Step 6: Flush the gully with hot water

    Fill your bucket with hot water and carefully pour it into the gully to dislodge any grease or fat that may have accumulated inside it.

    For a more effective clean, you may wish to add a touch of bleach or washing up liquid to shift any stubborn deposits.

    Step 7: Test the gully before resealing it

    One final thing before you affix the gully trap, turn on the taps for a couple of minutes and monitor if the gully is draining properly.

    Once it’s draining as it should and you’re happy, put the trap back on and grab yourself a cuppa!

    Blocked gully prevention tips

    Now that you know how to clean your drainage gully and remove blockages, the next step is to prevent it from happening again further down the line.

    • Keep all areas around the gully clean, especially before rain is forecast.
    • Take the time to inspect your gully regularly and make sure it’s free from moss, leaves, and other debris.
    • Use natural cleaning solutions, where possible.
    • Pour boiling water down the drain at least once a month.
    • Avoid draining coffee grounds in the sink, as these can build up and create clogs.

    If you’d like to know more about drainage gullies, check out our blog ‘A beginners guide to drainage gullies’.

    Alternatively, if you need a replacement gully, be sure to get in touch with Total Pipeline Systems. We know everything there is to know about underground drainage and will be more than happy to advise you on the most suitable products for your needs.

    Either give us a call on 01254 382 000 or drop us an email at, and we’ll be in touch shortly.