Where does my gutter let out?

trancefusionDecember 28, 2012

My gutter downspouts each go into wider PVC pipes in the ground. I don't see anywhere they let out, though there is a wooded hill behind my house so it isn't completely unreasonable that if they let out there I wouldn't be able to find it.

But I'm thinking the PVC just goes down into the ground and that's it? The water just seeps down below the house? Is that a normal way to build a gutter?

Anyway, when it rains hard, one of the PVC backs up and the water starts pouring back out over it, as in the image. I'm wondering if I need to unclog something? I almost wonder if all the PVC pipes are networked together underground as the amount of water coming back up seems to be more than the water coming down that one particular piece of downspout.

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It's anyone's guess how the PVC was laid.

Without digging them up to check the configuration, any guesses are just that....guesses.

My guess would be: I suspect that someone just termiated them in the ground, maybe with some stone at the end. I highly doubt that there is much of an underground run of pipe, but you never know.

Consistent with that thought...I don't believe that it is something that can be "unclogged".

    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 9:12AM
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Follow the slope of your land, and see if you can find an outlet.

I would guess that there is a 4" corragated plastic drain line buried a foot below the ground.

If the drain line is clogged, you may be able to flush it out, by snaking a garden hose with the water running.

I think you'll need to do a little digging to see what's down there.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 10:12AM
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I'd run a snake down the drain to see how far it goes. It just might pop out on the hillside.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 3:36PM
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Remove the stones and see where it's heading.

I had a client with a similar issue in the rear of their old townhouse in Alexandria, VA. (Olde Town) The ground was flat/level, and the house had no basement.

In our case, there also was a rectangular drain grate in the middle of patio. Anyway, after digging up the stones by hand, I found that the patio also drained toward it, but more importantly, that the drainpipe then ran under/through the house foundation toward the front sidewalk (just beneath the walkway). It was supposed (and once did) drain out a hole in the side of the curb into the street, but the city had recently installed new curbs and closed the opening. Once we figured it out, city came and cut the concrete, opened it up again, and all is well.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 8:22PM
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We had a similar issue at our house- not knowing we're our and sump pump and downspouts emptied out. We did have an over flow drain but could see that the plastic drain extended beyond that point. Also from the house, the pipes ran under a 3 car wide concrete driveway. The over flow drain was next to the driveway and flooded the drive with every heavy rain. We ended up having to hire a plumbing company to run a camera through the over flow drain to find out where the pipes ended. In our case the, the down spouts and sump pump did join into one pipe that was connected to the city storm sewer and there was a clog where it was connected to the storm sewer. We were lucky they were able to roto-root the clog out or we would have had to dig down several feet to replace that section of pipe.

My son's house the same set up as yours and has had overflow like you pictured. His is a fairly short underground run also to a storm sewer but when it backs up it does create quite a waterfall. He has had his roto- rooted also.

Do you have storm sewer in your area? The pipe may run to a storm sewer. Whether you do or not though, an underground camera will let you know where the pipes go and where the clog is.

While debris from the roof can be causing the blockage, leaves and dirt or small critters could be getting in the open space where the down spout connects to the PVC.
Once you get it cleaned out you may also want to put a connecting piece on the PVC to cover the gap such as in the link below

Good luck.

Here is a link that might be useful: Downspout adapter

    Bookmark   January 7, 2013 at 9:49AM
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Obviously, our situations may or may not be like yours. At our house, the downspouts go to buried terra cotta pipe that takes the water out to an opening in the curb, so it drains down the gutter. Well, that's the idea, anyway. But with a house that's about 90 years old, and terra cotta pipe.... guess you can guess where this is going? The terra cotta is almost surely broken, and the way out to the street is blocked.

We used a very simple solution--we installed rain barrels. Waited till the end of the season and picked up 8 - $90 barrels for $25 EACH!!! They collect and save the water for us to use when we needed--a great plus. And if we're expecting a lot of rain, we connect a hose, string it out away from the house, and leave the faucet open, so we don't have the water hanging near the foundation. It made a HUGE difference in the amount of water we had to pump, after we did that. We're very pleased that we found a quick, easy, cheap solution that had it's own benefits--saving water we could use later.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 4:55PM
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