Coping with fallen leaves in commercial drains

It is that time of year when the clocks go back, the days grow shorter and the weather gets colder and wetter. As the temperatures drop, so too do the leaves on the trees, creating a blanket of beautiful colours on the ground – but unfortunately this also causes hazardous conditions. As the leaves rot and turn to ‘mulch’, this makes paths and pavements incredibly slippery, as well as creating a host of other issues for the drainage network. The local council typically holds responsibility for clearing leaves from public places, but what about in private car parks, pipes, gullies and walkways belonging to restaurants, catering outlets and retail spaces? Here, we consider some of the problems that fallen leaves could cause for you, and how best to deal with the.

The most visible problem that you will need to deal with is freshly fallen leaves. This can happen in mass quantities at this time of year, especially after stormy weather or particularly strong winds and heavy rainfall. The most immediate issue this can cause is slips and trips by customers on the premises, resulting in injury and potentially also legal ramifications for the business. As well as being hazardous on-foot, fallen leaves can also cause slippery conditions for vehicles navigating car parks. This issue is simple to resolve as it simply needs a dedicated person who can act fast and clear fallen leaves before they become a problem. The longer they stay on the ground, especially during wet weather, the more slippy and hazardous they become.

That leads on to another issue caused by fallen leaves; mulch. Leaf mulch occurs when leaves begin to decay and rot, becoming more soggy and breaking down. Not only can this exacerbate the slip risk outlined above, but mulch can also make its way into gutters, surface water gullies and drains. This is where things can get serious, as the mulch can easily cause blockages that prevent surface water from draining away quickly or adequately. When surface water drainage fails, it leads to flooding, ponding and causes the eventual deterioration of surfaces such as tarmac. In icy weather this can also combine to create a major risk of slips and falls by customers and visitors to your premises, as well as staff.

Signs of a blocked surface water drain include smell, rotting leaf mulch gives off a distinct smell, ponding and pooling water collecting around gullies and aco channels is an obvious sign that leaf mulch has created higher silt levels reducing the functionality of the surface water drainage system. However, these signs often do not present themselves until heavy downpours occur, so it is a good idea to carry out manual spot check on the surface water drains around your premises to ensure there is no build up of leaf mulch and silt or any other blockages.

If you think you may have a blocked drain resulting from inclement weather conditions or any other issue, it is important to call in an expert to deal with this promptly and effectively. Indeed, the best course of action is always prevention rather than cure. Setting up a rolling schedule of maintenance visits spread out over the course of the year will allow for regular actions like cleansing and desilting road gullies and ACO channels, as well as removing mineral build up and debris such as leaf mulch.

Appointing a person within the business to take charge of regular sweeping and clearing of the outside premises could also prevent a host of problems in the future and is a simple measure to take. Getting this in order at the start of winter will put businesses in the best position to handle the changeable conditions to come.

By Michelle Ringland, head of marketing at industrial, commercial and domestic drain specialists, Lanes Group

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