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.
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
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.
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
Its all concrete back there. I just get a big puddle
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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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