Rain leader maintenance and stormwater management keeps your basement dry

A utility contractor spreading dirt and grading soil in front of a white barn

Rain leader repair and stormwater solutions in Baltimore

Gutter cleaning ranks at the top of most people's to-do list when it comes to home maintenance. Removing leaves and debris from gutters and downspouts is a no-brainer but can be a pointless chore – or service call – if you don't also check over your rain leaders. With nowhere to go, rain pouring into clogged rain leaders and storm water drains will backup into your basement.  

For one simple reason, older and historic homes are the most susceptible to storm water damage. Homeowners often overlook, under-maintain, or completely forget their storm water management system and rain leaders until it is too late.    

The following guide gives a lot of information about rain leaders and storm water management. If you would like to jump to a particular topic, use the links below:

Rain LeadersMaintenanceDo I Have Rain Leaders?RepairCostsInstallationCatch BasinsStormwater SolutionsConsultation

What is a rain leader?

A rain leader is an underground pipe connecting to your downspouts. It takes the water from your roof and gutters and then drains it away from your home. Moving water away from your house prevents water problems in your basement and around your foundation. Rain leaders are most common in older homes built before the 1950s, and we commonly find them around neighborhoods like Towson, Roland Park, Guilford, and Homeland.

An illustration of rain water flowing from a gutter, down into a rain leader under the concrete

How often do rain leaders need maintenance?

The job of a rain leader is to carry water from your downspout away from your home's foundation. Unfortunately, this sometimes means that a rain leader will have to pass objects that aren't meant to flow through pipes. Leaves, twigs, pine cones, foliage, and sediment frequently flush into a rain leader. When these items get stuck, problems begin occurring.  

Rain leaders typically develop issues from one of two areas. First, without regular water flow, debris in the system sits, solidifies, and then becomes a clog. This can happen if your area experiences a few months or weeks without rainfall. Second, their shallow depth underground also makes it easy for rain leaders to collapse or get root clogs.  

Because of these two problem areas, it is ideal for rain leaders to undergo maintenance while they are still capable of draining. It is much easier to clean out sediment and debris while flushing the pipe at the same time. It is not always possible to clean or maintain a pipe that is no longer draining. A more expensive excavation and repair job are often necessary if a rain leader ceases to drain. 

In a perfect world, every rain leader receives annual maintenance, and our clients have found great success for their homes with yearly rain leader servicing.  

Please reach out if you feel your home would benefit from an annual rain leader cleaning.

Does my home have rain leaders?

At this point, you may ask yourself, does my home have a rain leader system? The presence of a rain leader system is not always evident because it is surprisingly common for old piping to become buried and forgotten. Yet, there are a few surefire ways to identify if you do have rain leaders.

Are there pipes emerging from the ground near your downspouts? These are the most obvious sign of a home's rain leader system. When connected properly, your downspouts should be running into these pipes.  

However, many older homes have abandoned rain leader systems that are disconnected from downspouts, filled with concrete, or buried. It is often possible to restore function to a neglected rain leader system, but in some cases, replacement is necessary.

Many houses constructed before the 1950s have a rain leader system. It used to be standard practice to add rain leaders, especially if the grading around the building was not ideal. Rain leaders were also necessary features of larger estates. A special system was – and still is – essential to handle the sheer volume of rainwater from a large home's roof. Rain leaders manage this water, moving it away from the basement and foundation. Some homes even have separate connections to the municipal storm water drainage system to handle large volumes of storm water. Instead of discharging into the yard, these systems carry rainwater to a city or county storm drain. In rare instances, some rain leaders even tie into a home's sewer, but this is no longer allowed and needs correction to meet current code requirements.

Rain leader repair

Rain leaders are a frequently forgotten part of home maintenance. Most homeowners don't know they have rain leaders – or what they are – until they stop working. Even though most homeowners are unaware of their rain leader's condition, the best time to maintain or repair a rain leader is before water floods your basement.  

Because of this, we always suggest a thorough initial investigation of the system as soon as possible. This investigation determines what problems are in the pipes affecting the home. Our initial investigation starts with a camera inspection that judges the condition of all drains throughout the system. At the same time, we use pipe locating technology to trace the pipes' locations and connections throughout the property.  

After establishing a clear picture of the rain leader network, each problem area goes through a drain clean and flushing. If the drain cleaning is not successful, more extensive work such as pipe jetting or physical repair of the pipe must occur. Pipe jetting is a common practice that can remove severe debris and clogs from rain leaders. However, excavation and repair are necessary if a pipe is cracked or damaged. It is very rare for rain leaders to need complete replacement. Often, only one or two sections of pipe need physical repair. The rest of the system can get reinstated with a drain clean and flushing.  

Rain leader maintenance pricing begins at just $395, and pricing increases from that point depending on the system's complexity and time involved. We are happy to create a pricing estimate for larger homes to help you understand what costs will ensue. Because of our specialized experience, we can often work faster and more cost effectively than our larger competitors' quotes!

Rain leader repair costs

As mentioned above, rain leader repair pricing begins at the maintenance cost of $395 and goes up to several thousand dollars for intensive repair work. A home with no previous rain leader maintenance usually requires a complete diagnostic analysis. We utilize both drain cleaning and camera inspection technology at this stage. The rain leader drain lines must be mapped and located for a full picture of the piping network. After we gather this information, we perform precise repairs of the rain leaders only as needed. Call us for a more accurate and up-to-date pricing picture. We can usually provide an accurate ballpark quote right over the phone.

Rain leader installation

What if you have a newer home without rain leaders? You may want to consider installing a rain leader system to help control storm water around your home. Rain leaders carry storm water from your roof away from your basement and foundation and can magnify the effectiveness of your gutter or downspout system.  

Consider investing in rain leaders if your home has a wet basement or other areas plagued by storm water problems. Rain leaders can be installed at a shallow depth and do not require significant excavation of your property. They are relatively simple to install and effectively relieve most rainwater issues.

Catch basin repair and maintenance

Catch basins are another crucial facet of rain leader and storm water management. What are they? Catch basins are underground boxes – or basins – with an open drain grate on top. All catch basins have an outlet pipe that drains into a rain leader system. Newer catch basins are factory-made, but we also come across many " homemade catch basins that work well and have many years of service left.  

The job of a catch basin is to collect and filter sediment out of rainwater discharge. They are found at the bottom of basement stairwells, near driveways, at the entrance of garages, and around patio areas. When they get overlooked, seldom maintained, and neglected, sediment levels rise to the point that blocks the outlet. Water can then no longer drain from the catch basin. It is also possible for sediment to drain out of the catch basin and clog the rain leader areas further downstream. Neither of these scenarios is ideal and will affect the health of your home.

Other stormwater management options

Rain leaders are just part of a complete storm water management plan for your property. Many other options are available that control water around your home and add to the natural beauty of your landscaping. The options below are just some of what is available to our clients.

Strategic catch basin installation

We can easily add a new catch basin to an existing rain leader or storm water management system. The new catch basin can be sized to handle virtually any amount of storm water, and this can control water around your foundation and direct it to the rain leader network. Catch basins are excellent drainage solutions for wet driveways, garages, and patios.


Grading creates a physical change to the natural topography of your property using excavating equipment. Many positive things are possible with grading. For instance, we can change the pitch of a hill or your yard to direct water away from your home. Filling in any low spots also prevents water from pooling in problematic areas. Both of these steps help eliminate wet areas of your yard and funnel water away from your foundation, protecting your home.


Swales are long depressions in the ground designed to channel water away from structures and other sensitive areas. A swale is usually simple to install and often adds to the natural appearance of your yard. Swales can also control and slow the speed of storm water runoff down hills. When used to direct the flow of water, it is possible for swales to even serve as natural irrigation sources for plants and landscaping.

Consult with us

Do you have a basement or stairwell that is prone to flooding? Have you noticed that your gutters can't handle the amount of rainwater coming off of your estate's roof? Perhaps your yard slopes toward your foundation or depressions in your lawn pool with water. None of these irritants must be a permanent "feature" of your home.  

C.A. Taciak & Sons is a licensed and insured underground plumbing specialist. We have 70+ years of experience tackling Baltimore's most intricate storm water management problems. Catering to neighborhoods like Ruxton, Roland Park, Homeland, Guilford, and Towson, we are happy to bring our storm water expertise to your home. Reach out to us to schedule your property's rain leader, swale, grading, or storm water project.