Finding downspout drain?

Hi all,
I don't actually have a problem currently, but I am trying to locate the drain for my downspout with no luck. Downspout was disconnected from drain pipe and diverted to a cistern before I bought the house, however the overflow drains for the cistern simply dump onto the ground. There's a stub of PVC pipe sticking up from the ground but it doesn't let water flow. Well, it does, but very, very slowly. The only possible location that I could see for it to terminate is that there is a drain pipe by the curb in front of the house, however it is bone dry. Trying to stick a snake up that drain from the curb accomplishes nothing, it is open for as long as the longest snake I have. Trying to snake it from the downspout end accomplishes nothing either, I get caught at an S-curve almost immediately.
I will get a longer snake, but I have two concerns... first, I don't know whether I have a French drain or not, so the drain pipe by the curb might be for the French drain and has nothing to do with the downspout. Also I know that when the house was built there was an alley behind it, and the alley is no longer there.
So here's the question; is there any way to determine where exactly a PVC drain pipe runs if you can't snake it without digging? Digging this up would likely involve draining the cistern, moving it, and removing a large concrete pad.
thanks,
nate
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Nate Nagel wrote:

Hi, If your house/yard does not have water problem(soggy yard, moisture on the walls, etc.), what's the worry?
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Tony Hwang wrote:

I guess it's just the principle... I don't *want* to have a water problem in the future; the cistern is only a couple feet from the basement walls.
nate
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wrote: <snip>

If you can get a stiff wire or a smaller metal snake (like an electrician's snake (steel, not fiberglass)) down the pipe, you can rent a cable/pipe locator.
You clip a connection from the locator onto the snake and that drives it with a signal. Then the locator head senses that signal to locate the path of the wire. The better units will even estimate how deep the line is.
A well stocked rental yard will have one of these. They're usually called magnetic cable locators. It takes some fussing around, but they work.
HTH,
Paul F.
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wrote:

Another idea is smoke testing. You can purchase smoke pellets from Lab Safety Supply. Toss one in, and if you need to, blow some air to push the smoke around. Might try a shop vac or a hair dryer or an air compressor turned way down.
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If the drain can empty a garden hose & it's not coming out at the street, I would say they're either not connected or there's a serious break in between.
Plumbers have cameras they can send down pipes to see what's going on. It's up to you to decide if curiousity is worth spending $$ on.
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Kitep wrote:

Ah, yes, but which, is the question?

It's either that or digging, looks like. I will see if I can rent one of those gadgets mentioned in another post, but based on a quick web search, I am guessing it wouldn't be any cheaper/easier. My local rental place has extortionate prices...
nate
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Why do you need to find out for sure where some unknown pipe is going? If the water flows from the gutters to the above ground cistern and the cistern has an overflow, why not just do something with a short length of pipe or similar to channel the overflow water 10 ft away from the house? Many houses have simple splash blocks that only carry the water 3 ft from the foundation, have proper grading and have no problems.
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On Aug 27, 10:01 am, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

because if the mystery pipe does not drain correctly, really the only viable option would be to dig up my yard and lay some pipe to channel the water to the street. the gutter in question is on the back side of the house, and my whole lot is sloped toward the street, and I don't have enough space to direct it away from the house sideways without likely causing puddles in my neighbor's yard next to her house. (I don't know exactly the distance between the edge of the house and the property line, but it is less than 10 ft. for sure. Lot is long but narrow, and less than 1/4 acre anyway.)
The other option would be to strap some PVC to the underside of my deck, which is the full width of the house, and drain it to the driveway and let it run to the street that way, but I don't know if that would cause icing issues in the winter. I've already done that with the front gutter as that is how that appears to have always been (no drain pipe evident for that downspout)
nate
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Don't know the geometry here, but apparently you can snake it from the street and it's clear for as long as the longest snake you have. And you can only snake it a short distance from the other end, until you get caught in an S curve. I assume the pipe is visible at that point, otherwise how do u know it's an S?
If it is in fact some kind of S that is the problem, then I'd cut the pipe at that point so you can deal with two segments of straighter runs. Then you need a snake long enough to work the longest length you have. You could also try a long enough snake from street, as is, without taking out the S.
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