The very best solution to all drainage issues is move the water
away on the surface with enough slope to move and keep it away
from your "stuff".
In an ideal piped system you would always like to drain runoff
water to daylight. This is often difficult or impossible due to
the geography of your property, there may simply be nowhere to
allow gravity to take the water and discharge it above ground or
the distance to do so is prohibitive. The next best solution
would to send runoff to a major storm system. Another alternative
would be to take it to a good functioning drywell. The worst
scenario might take water to a mechanical lift or sump of some
When a properly sized pipe ends in daylight, the only thing that
can go wrong is having the daylight end under flood waters or a
blockage caused by pipe failure or critters. The city storm can
be overpowered, drywells can become saturated or overpowered, and
mechanical lifts fail when needed most (one of Murphy's laws)
either due to power failure. equipment failure, or inadequate
Keep the whole world singing. . . .
The worst scenario was the lake in my basement every winter
before I dug a catchbasin and installed a sump pump. Now
my basement has been completely dry for three winters,
including our recent visit from the "pineapple express."
Thanks for the reply, I think I was reading about drainage systems
underground at the footer level. That's why I didn't understand what
the author was talking about "daylight". Are you saying that ideally
such a system would drain downhill to ground level? The house would
have to be located on a hill for that to work. It looks like that is your
point. Correct? My basement gets water sometimes. I was thinking
about excavating down to the footer and installing drains. A trench
for the storm drain is about 3 feet below grade in my area. So I couldn't
use gravity to put the water in the storn drain. Maybe a sump pump, but
if the line was above ground I would have to cross a sidewalk. Any
ideas? Let me know if more info is necessary.
Yes, it requires quite a change in grade as in hillside or built
along the river, or many feet above the street. Enough that a
pipe that is lower than your basement can be sloped down hill and
still spill out somewhere, as in the street.
It looks like that is your
Perimeter drain (*French drain". area drain, trench drain, kinda
all the same thing) that is lower than your basement floor needs
to be able to shed water somewhere. If you can't make grade with
the pipe to street, storm, gully, river bank, or fantastic drywell
then your next choice would be a mechanical sump. Most
municipalities will not knowingly allow you to pipe storm water
into a sanitary sewer system, so now you need to pump the water
somewhere. All the choices are still the same, you just have the
water flowing in a pipe at quite a bit higher elevation at the
Many times there is no need for subsurface drainage. Make sure
gutters and downspouts get water 10 feet away from the building.
Get rid of shrubs and plants along the house and strongly consider
a sidewalk along the house all the way around. Make sure that
surface water moves away from the house and cannot pond at the
house. Make sure the water has somewhere to go. Code requires 6"
of fall in the first 10 feet away from the house, though it often
does not happen. The dranage work should all be accomplished and
tested before spending any extra money on sumps, pumps, and
Let me know if more info is necessary.
Here in Seattle we have a combined sewer system. Naturally it
is now far too expensive for the city to retrofit storm sewers,
so the situation persists. My house is old enough that the downspouts
were connected to the combined sewer, but this is prohibited for new
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