Where does this exterior drain go?
July 22, 2011 8:09 PM   Subscribe

How do I find where an exterior drainage pipe in the ground goes?

I have a plastic pipe in the ground where my carport roof drains to. Is there a way to find out if this drains to the storm drain or into the ground?

I've tried putting a hose in with the water on for several minutes and seeing if it overflows (it doesn't) and also seeing if I can hear any water flow from a storm drain (no sound).

I would like to use this pipe for additional drainage purposes.
posted by wongcorgi to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
Look into the storm drain. It's also possible it goes into a "dry well" barrel in the ground or a leach field, but I doubt that last one.
posted by sanka at 8:11 PM on July 22, 2011

I'd suspect it drains into a pile of rubble or gravel buried in your garden, wrapped in filter cloth so it doesn't get clogged with soil. It's easier and cheaper to make a drainage sump like this than to connect to the municipal storm drain.
posted by Flashman at 9:03 PM on July 22, 2011

I'd tend to agree with Flashman. To semi-confirm, see if you have a cleanout near where the pipe might connect to the main, or a nearby street drain -- basically something that would let you hear into the main storm drain nearby. Run the hose into the pipe and then go listen.
posted by brentajones at 9:17 PM on July 22, 2011

A few pictures of the area would tell us all right away.
posted by sanka at 10:48 PM on July 22, 2011

I'm not sure how to do this, but the sewer and water people test the pipes with smoke. Some kind of way the smoke is blown into the pipes and it will seep out at the drains.

They usually send out flyers a few days before warning people, but someone always calls the fire department.
posted by JujuB at 11:29 PM on July 22, 2011

If it's important enough to pay to find out, there are drain cameras that also have locating devices on them.

The camera is inserted into the drain on a "snake" cable and another metal-detector type unit is used to follow from aboveground. There are other devices that work differently but have the same end result.

Any plumber that offers drain inspection would likely be able to do this for you.
posted by davey_darling at 3:46 AM on July 23, 2011

If you have access to a plumber's snake and a decent metal detector, you may be able to trace the pipe yourself. I do something similar in my line of work (irrigation contractor) to find the paths of old irrigation lines, drains that we may need to cross, and to find well locations. In my case, I run an electrician's fish tape down the pipe and clip my electronic valve/wire locator to it to trace it, but I'm confident that the snake/metal detector method should work as long as the pipe depth is with the detector's range.
posted by gimli at 10:06 AM on July 23, 2011

... within the detector's range.
posted by gimli at 10:08 AM on July 23, 2011

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