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Well this one has me baffled

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  • Well this one has me baffled

    A friend of mine just bought a house a few blocks from me, has yet to move in but has taken posession. we had some heavy rain here in chicagoland, not excessive, but not light either. yesterday he called me to show me the house, we went by and to his despair found several inches of water in the basement. we looked everyhthing over and i am at a loss. he has 2 sump pumps, both of which are working 100%. there was a lot of dirt and leaves in the water as well as in the basement tub and toilet. the basement was finished after the fact but it does appear that the plumbuing was roughed in when the house was built. it does not appear that the bathroom was ran into the storm sewer.

    i will assume that once the sump pump(s) were put in they sealed the floor drain in the floor prior to finishing the basement. i unplugged the floor drain and the basement drained. i could not get the main to back up so it appears that the main drain line is not clogged.

    so my question is obvioulsy what the hell is going on here? and why the hell is he getting dirt and leaves up through the bathtub and toilet. my wife works for an architect and spoke with one of their consultants, he said maybe the storm sewer is overflowing and backing up into the house? claims that the city would be responsible for fixing this if it is the case?

    any advice here would be greatly appreciated

    my friend did call a plumber who charged him 185.00 to route out the main line. seems to me that they should have known this was not necessary? that aside i am baffled here. any ideas would be greatly appreciated

  • #2
    If outside refuge is entering the house, then it has to be a storm sewer issue obviously.

    On another note; Existing issues with the house is the responsibility of the previous owners by law, unless it was noted on the purchase contract and excluded from rights of responsibility. Especially in such a short time from closure.
    John E. Adams<br /><a href=\"\" target=\"_blank\"></a>


    • #3

      i was not aware of the legal issue on that...thanks so much. can you point me in the right direction as far as a link or code that covers this.

      in is it that a storm sewer can back up into a bathroom, arent storm sewers and sanitary sewers seperated and independent? thats what i dont understand. the house i grew up in had a sump pump and an ejector pump, and what i thought was 2 seperate sewer networks. am i mistaken?


      • #4
        Ed, let me express that alot of older homes, origanals of a city lets say for an example; before codes and that stuff was in effect, could be even before vtr (vent through roof) pipes were mandated, city home waste and street run off were combined. When I was a kid (mid 60's) I remember the last of the wooden, steel banded pipe being removed from under the streets that had collected both.

        It is possable, that certain streets have been overlooked over the years, and if no building, plumbing or electrical (for that mater) permits have been asked for through the various address changes/updates over the years, it can slip through the system. Highly unlikely, but not impossable.

        A break underground in both lines in common locations can cause exchange of the systems contents as well. I've seen this happen, but more near frost season and heavy intersections on truck routes.

        I was thinking about this on the drive to work this morning, and it might be a worth while look at the house's roof drainage. It's possable (depending upon the vintage and architech) that they ran roof drainage through the outside walls to a ground level discharge. A break within the walls would also cause some of the described debrie and flooding. (I would expect to see a stone gargoyale on the front edge of the gutter if this is the case).

        On the legal note, my life long neighbor is a real estate agent. He always has stories to offer on our neighborhood cook outs that offer great knowledge to those how listen. I'm sorry I can't offer more info on a web site, or concer that it is profiecent from state to state. A stop to the local real estate agent can offer a great deal of helpful information, if asked without spicifics. Agents tend to stray from getting envolved in disputes outside thier sales. Bad for business, as I was told.
        John E. Adams<br /><a href=\"\" target=\"_blank\"></a>


        • #5
          yeah the roof drainage is something i looked at 1st. that was the same problem i was having. cleaned and extended my gutters and no more water. i actually had a thought...but cant find anywhere to confirm if it could be a possibility. with regard to a residental sewer system what seperats the sewage sewer from the storm sewers? is there some sort of check valve that should keep storm water from backing up into the sewage lines and back up into the house?


          • #6
            Although I have no knowledge of such a thing, if it's a thought, then some archetech has probably tried it in years past. I'm thinking of a back flow check valve where if storm sewer presure is great enough to back into the house soil pipe, it closes. Being of vintage, it's possable it's not working. You might be onto something there Ed. Definetely worth checking into.
            John E. Adams<br /><a href=\"\" target=\"_blank\"></a>


            • #7
              Around here at least, storm sewer lines and sanitary sewer lines are seperate sewer systems and not connected to each other at all.
              I decided to change calling the bathroom the "John" and renamed it the "Jim". I feel so much better saying I went to the Jim this morning.


              • #8
                A few months ago the city was working in the sewer in front of my house. Whatever they were doing sent a whole lotta water and excrement up through peoples toilets with enough force to hit ceilings. If you had a ceiling fan in your bathroom, you could say the #$%@ hit the fan. I was lucky and had no problem. Anyway, the point is you never know what can happen when it comes to plumbling. Which is why I prefer carpentry.


                • #9
                  Nicely put rafael! I'd much rather make saw dust of any kind than deal with pipes, especially a toilet!

                  But #$%@ does hit the fan in most anything you do it seams in one way or another.
                  John E. Adams<br /><a href=\"\" target=\"_blank\"></a>


                  • #10
                    I know this thread has been dormant for a long time, but thought I would add my $0.02 in case anyone finds it while researching a similar problem.

                    I had a home not long ago (1982 thru 1990) that was built in 1905. This house had built-in gutters and the rain leaders were piped into the sewer line and had been that way since construction. The main line ran under the basement floor towards the street and went through a house trap before exiting under the foundation wall for the street. All the rain leaders ran down the outside the house then were offset through the foundation wall into the basement where the continued on to tie into the house main. At the base of each riser was a cleanout downstream of the sweep at the base of the riser that was set flush with the floor. The C.O. was 'washed' by the rain water. Meaning that the rain water would keep the C.O. clear since it was upstream and rainwater flowed through the C.O. every time it rained. I had a couple ties that these got clogged with leaves. Each time I was able to clear it either at the cleanout or outside at the bottom of the rain leader before it penetrated the wall. Because everything inside was water tight I never had any problems with flooding, the C.O. covers would weep a little bit but it never amounted to much. Most of the water would overflow outside where the copper rain leaders transitioned to Cast Iron pipe before it went through the wall. I asked when we moved in about his setup and was told that by the inspector that it was grandfathered and could remain. It was nice having all the water piped away from the house and I am sure it helped the foundation not having to deal with all that water for so many years.

                    Anyway, just thought I'd mention this as a possible explanation for the leaves and mud that showed up in the house that Space mentioned in his original post.
                    "It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?" Bob D. 2006



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