Is this a normal basement drain in an older home?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by darren_t_johnson, May 12, 2013.

  1. darren_t_johnson

    darren_t_johnson New Member

    Messages:
    18
    Location:
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Hi,
    I'm currently redoing a lot of the plumbing in my basement... Its a home built in 1960, in Ottawa, Canada. I'm adding two bathrooms. There are two floor drains in my basement. One 2" drain near all the old laundry fixtures. Its a normal drain (2" drain with a trap and a trap arm that joins up with the main waste pipe).

    And then there is the other drain. It is near the main clean-out for my 4" waste pipe. At first I thought it was a normal 3" floor drain with a trap and that it connects to the main waste pipe. It does that, but it does more. If you look at the pics, you'll see a Tee off the drain just above the trap. The tee is not connect to any thing. It is just an open hole into the drainage gravel under my slab.

    When I had a plumber in (before I has this section of floor broken up) he thought maybe this might be where my external drain tile along the footings tied in. He said that is "possible" in an older home that the drain tile around the footings might be tied into my main waste pipe before it ties into the city line.

    so what do you guys think? Is this a normal or common thing? Is it something that was done in older homes? Is it there to provide "under slab" drainage?

    Thanks!

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  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,264
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    You don't show us the "end" of the tee, so we have to take your word that is just "sticks" into the gravel, but if so, then what was there to keep the gravel from falling into the tee and plugging the trap. Your description is not logical, but if it is accurate, then the answer would be, "NO! It is NOT a common thing".
  3. darren_t_johnson

    darren_t_johnson New Member

    Messages:
    18
    Location:
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Thanks for the response hj.
    Sorry for not providing better pics, but I got tired of breaking up concrete. I gave the concrete wet saw and jack hammer back to my buddy last week, so now all I have is a diamond blade for my circular saw and a sledge hammer. Very dusty dirty work. And the slab is over 4" think is some spots. That is where I quite for the day.

    So for the Tee... After digging out what you can see in the pics, I can reach my hand around under the slab and stick my fingers into the end of the tee. If I stick my hand down the drain, I can stick my fingers into the Tee. There is some drainage gravel in the Tee, and even the trap has some drainage gravel in it too. I've cleaned it out for now. I had plugged the top of the drain when I was working around it, so I did not put the gravel there. The was nothing (or nothing left) on the Tee to prevent gravel or soil/dirt entering it.

    So what I have is not common. But is it common to have some sort of under-slab drainage? I know that in some areas drainage tile is used along the interior of the footings. I'm pretty sure I dont have that. Are there other techniques that were used?

    I would think that under-slab drainage is a good thing. So if I wanted to maintain some under-slabe drainage, what would be appropriate? Could I run some corrugated drain pipe wrapped in landscape fabric (or some solid PVC drain pipe with holes in it wrapped in landscape fabric) under my slab, and tie that into the Tee? I've already going to replace the 4" main pipe, so it would be trivial to run a drain pipe along side that.

    I'm actually going to relocate that drain about 10ft away... I don't want it in my basement bedroom. I'll be installing a new ABS floor drain further upstream. So I could tie this drain tile into a Tee off that. I have not read any thing about this type of setup online. And I dont see anything in any of the plumbing standards (yet). Is there a proper way to do this?

    Any suggestions would be great!
  4. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,237
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    Our sewage treatment facilities would all be overflowing if this kind of connection were "normal". Foundation drains are for groundwater, and must be piped to a sump pit & pumped outside, or if elevation allows, out to daylight on the property.
  5. cwhyu2

    cwhyu2 Consultant

    Messages:
    1,331
    Location:
    Cincinnati OH
    Looks like a retro fitted house trap all I can say is cut it out.
  6. darren_t_johnson

    darren_t_johnson New Member

    Messages:
    18
    Location:
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Right. that is how it "should" be done. And all the constructions in our area for many years have two city ties in. One tie in for storm sewers(for floor drains, footing drain tiles and street sewers), and a tie in for waste/sewer (toilets and sinks). At least that's what I call them around here. But back in 1955, there was only one city hookup, and it was for both.

    Funny you should mention overflowing city sewage treatment facilities. If you google that in relation to Ottawa, Ontario, you'll see that its a huge problem we have here. Probably because of hookups like the one in my house. The plumber I had in said the same thing you did!

    Now that I think of it, the year before I bought the house, about 5 years ago, they dug up and replaced the connection from the house to the city sewer. I wonder if they hooked up my exterior drains to a storm sewer... or if my neighbour hood even has two hook ups. I'll call the city and find out what exactly they did, but I doubt we have two hook ups.

    In an older home like this (1955), where would my exterior drain tiles be tying in to my system? Would they connect to the city line outside of my house?
  7. darren_t_johnson

    darren_t_johnson New Member

    Messages:
    18
    Location:
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    "retro fit"?

    Sure, but it must have been done a long time ago. That cast iron looks as corroded as the main waste pipe. It looks to me like it was supposed to take care of any water under the slab. Would you agree?

    "cut it out?"

    I will be removing it. But is there anything else I can do to handle any water under the slab? Is a pit + sump-pump my only option?
  8. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,237
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    Have you actually found any drain tile or are you just assuming it exists? Depending on soil conditions and elevations, many homes do not have such a system. If you have no sump pit, it would be very unlikely that there are any.
  9. darren_t_johnson

    darren_t_johnson New Member

    Messages:
    18
    Location:
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Fair question.
    Short story... there is clay drain tiles along one wall for sure.

    Long storey... But I found out about the exterior drain tiles the hard way. I had a crack in my foundation that I had to fix. I never hand any water problems unless my eve trough got plugged with leaves and it would overflow on my patio stones... and pool against the foundation where the crack was. So I dug that wall out by hand. Replaced the drain tile along that wall. Patched the crack and applied a membrane the full length of that wall and re-sloped the patio stones away from the foundation.

    And there was clay tile drain tile down there along the outside of the footing. I didn't dig up the other 3 walls, so I have no idea where it drains.
  10. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,264
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    "Drainage" tiles were NEVER connected directly to the sewer system. They went into a pump basin and were then pumped out. Connecting them directly to the sewer would mean that the gravel bed under the floor and the surrounding soil would be "contaminated" with sewage whenever the drain system backed up. A definitely bad environmental issue.
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