running gutter drainage underground

gibby2015April 1, 2007

Well I'm not sure if this is the right forum to ask about gutters but I searched and found a few things here so I'm going to give it a try.

I have a couple places where I'd like the spout where the gutter drains away from the house to run underground. It's in a place you walk and I'd like to not have to step over it. I looked at my neighbors and they have regular aluminum gutters attached to a round flexible plastic tubing that goes under ground. They're having some problems with leaking into their basement though so I'm wondering if this is really the right way to do this.

How is this done? I'll have someone do it but I want to get educated before I talk to anyone about doing the work.

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Where do your downspouts go to now? It's standard to have them run into underground drainage pipes that carry the water away from the house. However, if the underground piping doesn't hook up to a drainage or storm sewer system, you could be increasing your chances of basement problems because the water is not getting directed away from the house. This is also true if all of your downspouts just dump water on the ground.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 12:49AM
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We live in a more "rural" area - no storm sewers. So everything drains off onto the ground - we have no problem with basement water problems as long as the spouts drain the water a few feet away from the house - which they currently do. Our house is on a bit of a hill surrounded by wetlands so it's all quite a nice natural drainage situation. I just don't want the spouts across areas where we walk.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 8:46AM
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then run them into underground pipes and have the pipes come up lower down the hill. one word of caution though, erosion will be a problem were this discharges. you will want to put some type of barrier there to break up and spread out the water flow so that the erosion is managable.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 1:11PM
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Ideally what you need is a dry well.A pit about 24" in dia and 3' to 4' deep lined with landscape fabric filled with gravel and topped with landscape fabric into which your buried drain pipe can empty into. Make sure you are at least 10' away from house. An annual gutter cleaning is advised to prevent silt build up in well.
My current residence is in a similar setting. House was originally built with set up 50 yrs ago. The wells were clogged when I purchased house 8 years ago, no problem just dug new ones. One sits underneath a deck I built, works fine.
By the way last May in Eastern Ma. we received 12" of rain in a day, no problems.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 11:26AM
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Okay - thanks. Yes, I notice one of my neighbors has one of those tubes coming up out of the ground and he had to put something under it for the erosion. I have a nice trap rock area where all this water drains down to now - and that's where I think the underground pipes could come out. I think it could work well.

So it's correct that the regular rectangular gutter comes down from the house and empties into one of those flexible round tubes above the ground? Then the tubes run under ground to the designated drainage area. Or is it supposed to be some other kind of "pipe"? I assume two completely separate pipes from each of the two gutters in question - even though they're going to drain out to the same area? You don't "connect" them underground right? That seems like a maintenance problem long term.

Do "regular" gutter people typically do this kind of thing? I'm not going to be doing it myself.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 5:28PM
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A cautionary tale..... Ten years ago I built a dry well and extended one of my downspouts into it, as described above. The system worked great. But, this year I had to replace my sewer line, which happened to run about three feet laterally from the dry well and another 3 feet farther down. The clay sewer pipe had been undermined and separated, creating a small cave into which my sewage was draining.

After my sewer break was discovered and before it was repaired, I happened to be home when, coincidentally, the sewer utility was inspecting the main lines with a camera. It was raining that day and my sewer line, where it emptied into the main sewer, was dumping a good amount of water, even though just outside my house there was no water flowing. The flow we saw on camera was rain water.

So, I'm not sure that the dry well caused the break in my sewer line, but it's certainly suspicious.

So, if your dig a dry well, know where your utilities are and consider that the water has to go somewhere and the earth is a complicated mystery, 6 feet down, which we'll learn of only too soon.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 11:00PM
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And drywells don't do a whole lot of good in GA clay. Fills up, never soaks in.

What you mentioned in your last post is correct- rectangular gutter fits (w/ an adapter) to corrugated black ABS pipe. That pipe runs buried to where you want it to daylight and drain. Whether you tie your two downspouts together depends on how much roof they drain and how big a corrugated pipe you're going to put in. Simplest would be to run two separate lines, but you might also be able to tie them together into a larger pipe (say 6" instead of 4").

We only have about 1'0" fall from our house to the street. I contemplated running PVC to minimize backups, but at 3X the cost and no flexibility, I couldn't justify it.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 9:02AM
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I would do the minimum. Where you walk, put that part underground and let it drain further down your slope directly into a rock bed. Extend the gutters elsewhere, that's it.

Around where I live, putting gutters underground is a curse and a plague, and most folks make their situation far worse. The corrugated stuff can clog, and many folks don't have enough slope for drainage to begin with. I have neighbors where they have this stuff running to the edge of their property...on flat ground (or even uphill for small portion)! Pretty ridiculous.

I think the mosquitoes use it for breeding, too, since they never fully drain at the ends, even with the weepholes.

1 Like    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 9:51AM
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I never have likeed how the corrugations trap and hold water and debris.
Find some schedule 40 pipe.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 10:19AM
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Well now, those are interesting perspectives. Maybe I'd be making more trouble for myself than it's worth. I've lived with it like it is for 15 years - perhaps I should just continue with the status quo. That's why I come here for info.....things aren't always what they seem to be on the surface......

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 9:57PM
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Is 3" PVC sufficient? I have seen many references to 4" PVC...

Also, any thoughts on water getting into the joints, freezing, and causing the PVC or joints to crack?

    Bookmark   April 10, 2007 at 9:19PM
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Use the 4" smooth PVC as Brickeyee suggests. Water runs out of it faster than from the corrugated and debris does not accumulate. Use three gutter spikes placed at 120 deg as "diameter lines" in the open end of the pipe. Any animal that can enter the resulting small openings can also turn around in the pipe and get out under it's own power. An opossum (possum in these parts) that crawls into a 4" pipe will plug the pipe until it is cleared with a big, expensive, power auger.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2007 at 8:49PM
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I have a related problem. I have a 3x4 downspout connected to 4 inch corrugated pipe underground. When we get HEAVY rain (this is Florida) water backs up and leaks out of the downspout-to-pipe connector and leaks onto my porch. Normal rains do not back up so the pipe is not clogged. It never backs up to the gutter and the gutter never overflows.

What do I need to do to stop the backflow?



    Bookmark   April 15, 2007 at 2:57PM
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OT -- The only "Gibby" I even knew lived in RI. You?

    Bookmark   April 15, 2007 at 6:10PM
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live in Dallas-FTW TX area--don't have deep winters so you can bury something pretty shallow w.o worrying about freeze.

When we moved into this house more than 20 years ago drainspout from gutter on garage roof corner drained into yard and caused runoff problem...and the driveway on that side had low corner that caught rain runoff and pretty much flooded when there was strong rain because of grass lip around it...
husband tied the gutter downspout into plastic PVC pipe--not corrugated--to problamatic--and dug a trench about a foot deep maybe and ran it to the back of yard where we had a railroad tie wall with a 3 ft drop to basically a dry creek bed...
He dug a hole maybe 18x18 on corner of drive way, put in pvc box and connected pipe to it and ran to the tie wall under ground...they are still working find today--just have to make sure we clean the slotted top of one on driveway corner every once in while because grass and other debris can cover it and the high water starts again...

    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 3:43PM
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I pulled up this old thread because I have the same issue. I was about to install the standard corrugated black pipe to the gutter when I became concerned about what to do if/when it clogs.

Where do you buy 4 inch schedule 40 pipe?

    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 10:50AM
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Most of the big box stores have it, or you can go to a plumbing house and get 20 foot sections.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 2:16PM
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4" SDR25 is about 1/2 the price of sched40 and its more than adequate with a 24" burial.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 6:11PM
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Went to Home Depot looking for it. Would it be in some other part of the store besides the aisle with the corrugated flexible pipe? I asked the guy who worked that aisle, and he said they didn't have it.

I can't even find the 4-inch size in an internet search with the words "4 inch flexible pvc pipe" or "4 inch flexible schedule 40 pipe."

I only need about 8 feet of it, so price isn't important.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 8:58AM
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look in the plumbing aisle

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 10:40AM
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My plan is to do this with a couple of the gutters on our recently-completed addition....but lazypup's comment makes me wonder if the pipe NEEDS to be buried to a specific depth.

I'm in Iowa, so it does get cold....

My plan is to terminate the pipe with a pop-up emitter (linked below).



Here is a link that might be useful: Pop-up emitters

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 11:58AM
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I had one at my previous house and it worked pretty well. Every so often it would get cocked and not close. It seemed to reduce erosion by dispersing the water and probably reduces mosquitos some.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 9:06AM
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We're currently doing some structural work on our house, which in part was needed because of damage done by bad drainage. We considered the underground gutter with pop-up emitters as one of our options for changing drainage flows, but instead decided to run the downspouts into rain barrels. For us, and because we enjoy a nice lawn, this solution is going to be best for us. Just something else to consider.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 3:49PM
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The reason that no one is finding 4" flexible PVC pipe is because it is not PVC.

The corrugated flex pipe is PE pipe (polyethylene Pipe)

    Bookmark   August 27, 2008 at 11:55PM
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We have a 50 year old home with hot tar type roof and moulded in '"gutters". Our downspouts are 2" galvanized round pipe. Have been unable to find any connectors to allow transition to underground 4" PVC to take water away from the house. Need to do this before the heavy rains start here in WA. Any suggestions appreciated.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 8:42PM
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I have a similar problem with my gutter drainage. Drainage lead goes down underground and all other leaves and seeds started clogging up to a point where water drain slows down. My question is: Is there a way to pull out all this rotted leaves and other junk? Is there any tool or kits to do that with? Or How can I pull them out? Thanks for a tip

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 11:08AM
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I have some downspouts that require redirection during heavy rains...i'm thinking of a narrow,long swail down to the road...but now I'm readin about a dry-well...never heard of this. Could I use this???

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 10:08PM
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my question is my downspouts run across my sidewalk in 2 areas what do i do with the downspouts it freezes bad in the winder and holds water on my foundation i dont really want to dig up sidewalk any suggestions

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 12:27AM
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Our home is 8 years old. All of the gutters feed into buried 4 inch flexible black drains. We found that one of the drains exit the back of our property. The problem is....the drain sticks straight up above the yard approx. 4-6 inches. My husband says it is fine. How can the water drain when the pipe is vertical? The pipe is approx. 50 ft. in length. It has not drained properly because the basement has been wet in that exact area. I also found a drain next to the house (above the top soil) and the bricks have a 2 ft crack which is growing. Who do I call for a professional evaluation.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 12:44PM
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C (huffine5), stop disrespecting your husband and going behind his back by trying to do something about it irrespective of his feelings. Disrespecting your man makes him feel the way you would feel if he stopped loving you. Start talking with him instead of going behind his back, which sends him the message of "you're inadequate".

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 11:41AM
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Ive lived in my house for 20 years and probably had a handful of times water would appear in the basement. I knew something also was wrong with a plumbing issue but couldn't afford to have someone do the work. Finally in 2007, I had my plumbing looked at and 15,000 dollars later my pipes were replaced and a new bathroom renovated. I mentioned to the plumbers about the random water in the basement where they were working and didn't see anything underground. I also had my driveway paved and made sure they slanted away from house and they put a drain to connect downstairs. Then I found my downstairs downspout was clogged and I found out I had an empty septic tank. I was running out of money so I hired a contractor do unplug the spouts and replace the pipe underground while he filled the abandoned septic. Then came the fall and the rain and after heavy rainfall the water flooded my basement. The brand new carpet that I finally could afford was soaked and it continued to run into my house for the next 5 hours. I was devastated and heartbroken. I went outside in pouring rain at midnight and dug a trench to get the water from my house. no problems in 2009 so I thought I did some good. Wrong I had my basement flood twice in 2010. the water outside the house is not higher than my base of house, the water comes up from undergroud through any little crack in cement floor. My kids and boyfriend have helped me soak the water up and been luck we were home at the time. But oh so tiring. So far I think we've saved the walls from mold. Anyway, my question is-if we dig a hole near the base of the house will the water go there instead of my basement is it something we can do ourselves? I am out of money and out of ideas and I've got to save my home. The basement is like a apartment and my two boys live down there. This house is all I have. oh my gosh sorry this is so long I guess I needed to vent. Ive talk to city officials plumbers and water guys but they are not sure where the water is coming from.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 12:14AM
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(Deanna Ng) Sorry for your troubles. It can be heartbreaking dealing with Mother Nature.

If your city officials didn't tell you that you have a high water table, or a "perched water table" their engineers need to find another line of work. Hydrostatic pressure occurs when underground water presses upward and/or inward on foundation surfaces. It could be due to a number of things, such as runoff upstream from large developments, highways etc. If the problem has occurred for years it's probably a water table issue.

Get estimates from water-proofing companies (sounds like you've talked with a few already), but don't feel pressure to sign. They'll provide a decent assessment and offer sump pumps, dry wells, french drains, etc. Those things only work marginally because the water may just run back into the water table after you pump/drain it away.

Talk with you council or city representative and the like. Also talk with neighbors to see if they're experiencing problems or have found solutions. If it's an area problem, that may give you leverage with your local representatives. Some kind of drainage system (capital project) may be needed.

Meanwhile, if there's a dry spot on the property, a well could help water to drain from the surrounding areas into the well - and away from your foundation. Lots of info on the net. Best of everything, including patience.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 7:01AM
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My house is on a hill - the highest point in this area. My downspouts have black plastic pipes (corrugated on the outside at least) that run underground from the downspouts to the base of my yard. They end at the bottom swale (ditch) of the yard about 6 foot in from the edge of the road.

Even the gutters at the back of the house go into black PVC pipe underground. I don't know if those hook into the sewer line or one of the front pipes.

I can only access the top and bottom ends of these pipes. Since the "ditches" are so shallow and are just part of the grass lawn, I have to dig out the ends of the two front yard pipes at least once a year as the grass thatch crowds in. There is a cement "plate" under the end of each pipe at the ditch but it too gets grown in with grass.

This year I ran my arm up the end of each pipe and there was over an inch of sand accumulated in there. (My yard is VERY sandy.) I am wondering if I should auger the pipes since I am getting waterfalls off of clean gutters on the front of my house. I tried running a hose, but cannot get the same volume as with major downpours of rain we've had this year.

Just wanted to provide my experience with underground rain drainage. It works quite well, but is not flawless.

I have one rain barrel for my patio awning and it works great, although I really need a string of them at each downspout what with the monsoon rains we get since climate change started. A rain garden is the best idea. I researched this though and it is too labor intensive and somewhat costly for me to do at my age.

What would be cool would be some way to pressurize the water from a rain barrel into a DIY installed lawn/garden sprinkler system. Then the roof runoff could go into my gardens and not the ditch.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 9:18PM
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