How to maintain water gullies

POSTED BY Terry Carney ON July 12, 2022

Water gullies have appeared more and more as front gardens disappear and nice new driveways take their place and extensions spring up. You will recognise them as the small metal or plastic grates that cover a drainage gully.

They don’t only appear on drives – you may find them around new extensions to your property, patios and so on. The problem is they become blocked quite easily as the width and depth of most drainage gullies is not large.

One obvious challenge is in winter when leaves fall between the grates and build up and repeatedly fall into the gully. These leaves can create a real barrier for drainage.

Not having the right soak-away in these gullies can have huge knock-on effects and water above the damp course is not an uncommon occurrence. This can lead to very expensive problems with damp.

But don’t think the challenge is only in the winter, summer brings dryer times and dried mud, sand, dust and broken down waste all create clogging within gullies. So, maintaining the gullies and ensuring you have effective drainage all year round is essential.

The positive here is that gullies are not hard to keep clear or clean. Here is a simple guide to what you need to clear your drainage gullies and how to clean your gullies.

Firstly the tools you will need

If the gully is not over packed and there is no real damage, then all you will need to clean your gully is:

  • Rubber gloves
  • Protective eyewear
  • A drain rod
  • Rough bristled brush
  • Flat head screwdriver
  • Hosepipe
  • Bucket
  • Hot water


You never know what you are going to find in a drainage gully so be prepared. Wear gloves and eye protection always. Where muck builds up there is always danger of bacteria, so keep covered and reduce contact with bare skin.

Some gullies around your home can be linked to areas that require drainage such as washing machines, dishwashers etc so make sure that such appliances are not in use.

Removing the gully cover

Sometimes just locating the gully cover can be an issue. The build up of dirt, falling leaves and general debris can fill a gully and then further matter accumulates on the gully cover.

Removing the gully cover can usually be done quite easy with a screwdriver to prise it open, some do have handles but not all. Ensure you have your safety glasses on during the gully cover removal.

If you struggle to remove the cover then take some strong string and thread through the bars of the gully cover. Then create some upwards force by pulling on the string – make sure you have width between your hands as this will spread the force more.

Now you should have released your gully cover.

Check the condition of the gully

Now you have access, you need to have an inspection of your gully. You will probably find that the gully is blocked with leaves, twigs, earth, and general outside debris. Take your trowel and start to work along the gully to loosen this debris.

When the debris is dry this is all quite easy, but when wet or damp it can be a little more arduous and require more elbow grease. Hopefully this will be enough to clear your gully, just push some warm water through the gully and all should be good.

Use the drain rod if it’s stubborn

If you’re struggling to remove debris or it’s awkward to reach parts of the gully, then it may be time for the drain rod. Hopefully you will only need a single drain rod but if not, you can join another to extend the length.

When you encounter a blockage, prod carefully and build up the pressure to remove any blockage. The aim is always to breakdown a blockage into smaller pieces. Do not move as a whole piece. Pushing too hard may create a bigger blockage and an issue for you.

Use your hose to rinse and hot water to flush

Firstly, use that hard bristle brush to remove debris then use your hose to flush the gully with water. Hopefully this will be enough to move the blockage.

Now fill your bucket with hot water and pour into the gully slowly. The heat of the water will help to move any grease or fat that may be in the gully. You can add washing up liquid to add with this.

Testing and resealing your gully

Now you have cleared your gully you need to make sure all is flowing well. Take a few minutes to make sure all is flowing and there are no issues; you don’t want to reseal and then need to reopen due to a blockage.

If you are happy then replace the grate on your gully and make sure all is secure.

Now your gully is clear and free from any blockages, try to take steps to prevent any further build up in the future. Clean the area around the gully on regular basis, remove larger debris and blocks of soil and sweep away leaves.

Make sure you inspect on a regular basis; such maintenance and care can reduce your costs should your gullies become blocked.

If the above information doesn’t solve your problem, then contact Token Cleaning. We are qualified drain cleaning professionals available 24 hours a day 7 days a week in case of an emergency call out. Give us a call on 01279 422 752 or email