Can't figure out where the downspout goes?


6 family 3 story brick house in Brooklyn, NY. Built around 1925. I recently discovered the downspout was clogged. It goes into a 4" ( or 5"?) cast iron pipe into the ground in the backyard. Lots of junk inside ( leaves, rubber handballs). I could not manage to clear it, might get a pro to do it. But just out of curiousity, do these downspouts tie into the bldgs sewer system? Reason I ask because in the basement there is a cleanout plug in the floor by the cellar door, with a pipe going out towards the backyard. Could they have built it that way back then, or did they run a seperate pipe in the basement floor just for the rainwater? I did try to run water in the downspout to see if any water was flowing through the cleanout, but the pipe is 100% clogged. I'm not sure if there is a drywell back there either.
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*I don't know about Brooklyn, but I was surprised to learn that the storm run off and the sewer system in Manhattan were connected when I worked in the city years ago.
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On Mon, 15 Mar 2010 03:46:35 -0700 (PDT), Mikepier

I Dont know anything about the codes in Brooklyn, but everything you said could be possible. It's near impossible to say without seeing it. I think few cities still run rainwater in the sanitary sewer, but they used to do it. Is that cleanout near a downspout? (not that they always are, but it may give a hint). You could open that cleanout and pour water down the nearest downspout and see if it runs in there.
Of course you could cap off those cast iron pipes and just run the downspouts on your lawn. They do sell soaker type extensions for downspouts. Why pay for water for your lawn when you have it free. Running downspouts underground is always asking for troubles. Too many leaves and stuff to clog them.
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There is only one downspout in the backyard, and that is completely clogged somewhere below the ground level. When I try to fill it up with water, it just overflows. I tried snaking both in the downspout and through the cleanout out back towards the backyard, but no good. This cleanout pipe definately goes towards the direction of the downspout. What I don't get is the cast iron pipe outside is 4-5", yet the cleanout pipe in the basement is 2". Does not make sense that they went smaller. That's why I really don't know if the downspout goes to this cleanout.

Its all concrete back there. I just get a big puddle
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re: "I could not manage to clear it, might get a pro to do it."
Look into renting a power snake. I recently rented a 100' snake for about $80 for a full day and cleared a 60' length of 4" drain pipe that my gutter runs into. It was packed solid with roots.
Based on how long it took, I don't want to think about what a "pro" would have charged me to do it.
I still had some time left, so I snaked my main sewer line as well. I did manage to pull some roots from that pipe also, so I may have warded off a upcoming stoppage.
Well worth the money and based on how bad the the drain pipe was, I'll probably snake it once every couple of years, which I'll be able to do with a half-day's rental.
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In all the sewered parts of NYC (and despite our Borough President, Brooklyn is still part of NYC) all roof drainage must go to the City sewer, not into your back yard. That 4" cast iron pipe should go to through a trap into your lateral connection through your house to the City combined sewer. If the trap has collected debris, it needs to be cleaned out. From what you say, your lateral is below the cellar floor so there is not an easy cleanout for the trap. I'd hire a sewer cleaning service.
--
Peace,
BobJ



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That makes sense since I'm pretty sure the cleanout in the basement is for the downspout. And some other people in the area seemed to think the same. So I'll get either a plumber or I'll tackle this myself.
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You know, funny thing is I used to have stoppages in my basement frequently. But since the downspout outside has been clogged for quite some time, maybe a couple of years, I have not had a stoppage in a while. I wonder if the downspout has been the problem all this time. Maybe a coincidence. But a lot of junk does find its way in the downspout, particularly since the gutter guard gets knocked off frequently and kids hanging on the roof throwing garbage around.
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buffalo ny: the city sewer authority workers seem to have a good grasp of where their lines run, you may be describing a second rear line serving your property for example. make a maximum offer for it to be cleaned out by an older plumber who knows your area pipes the best. see also: http://www.angieslist.com /
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Did more searching on the net, and its amazing most municipalities don't allow downspouts to tie into the sewer system, yet NYC allows it. The number one reason is that most sewage treatment plants gets overwhelmed when it rains, and plus basements get backed up. They say to divert the rainwater in your yard. I think I'm tending to lean towards the latter.
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NYC doesn't just allow it, it requires it on standard construction! It is not legal to divert water into your yard. On new construction over a certain number of units in areas where there is a potential sewer problem, the City also requires that there be a retention device that collects and holds the rainwater and releases it into the sewer system during dry periods. I think that recently they are now allowing (or perhaps encouraging) the use of this retained water for gray water purposes such as controlled watering of gardens (including roof gardens).
--
Peace,
BobJ



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Just wanted to update that this past Saturday I had a plumber come down with a professional snake machine and took out all the junk that was in the line ( tennis balls, leaves, sticks. Its flowing good now. I also put 2 screens on the downspout: one on top, and one as a backup at the bottom where the downspout goes into the cast iron stack, so now I know nothing foreign will go down the pipe but water. Thanks again for everyone's help.
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watch for screen clogging, espically in winter ice dam situations.......
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