Under-slab drain...buying a home

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Old 02-19-20, 07:15 AM
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Under-slab drain...buying a home

Need advice and or opinions.

My daughter just put in a bid on home. Built in the late 70's. Location is Western New York , town of West Seneca. Place looks very good and is in good condition after being flipped by couple in the business. Even though she will have a home inspection done, I'm confident there is no major problems. In fact a previous bidder/buyer already had a home inspection done and although we cannot get a written report, we are told by a reliable source the only problem found was a small area of mold in the attic crawl space and couple of loose bricks in the wood burning fireplace. Both already noted and will be remedied. The previous bidder was on contingent and my daughter was able offer a bid without contingency. The first buyer was unable to remove contingency. So the place is hers, barring any unforeseen problems, legal or otherwise.

There is one item of concern that I want to investigate however. The basement is below the level of the street sewer lines. In other words basement drain tiles are located at the ceiling of the basement and the basement sink and washing machine has a pump up drain to the sewer lines. Also the basement has a drain in the center of the floor. I have no idea if where it goes. I can't remember if the house has a sump pit or not (I'm guessing not).

It's not so much that the drain lines are above the floor, (my son who also recently bought a home also has his drain lines about 3 feet above the basement floor) but that they are at the ceiling level of the basement.

So my question or curiosity is what is is up with the drain in the floor and should she expect any possible major problems concerning the high level of drain lines or should I say the below level of basement in the future?

Don't know if it matters or not, but the house is on a curve and might be on a very slight incline.

 
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Old 02-19-20, 07:24 AM
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So are you asking about the floor drain specifically?

Every house I have owned has had the foundation drains and floor drains tied together to the sump pit and pump. I would assume if there is a floor drain it's going somewhere, what that somewhere is and how it's handled would be something I would want to know!
 
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Old 02-19-20, 08:11 AM
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So are you asking about the floor drain specifically?
Both! The floor drain and the high height of the house drains. I have to assume a pit. Just don't remembering seeing one. Have you ever had experience with a drain system being that high? Basically it must be just below frost level when it runs through the basement wall to the street.

One nice feature I noticed was that all the drains are 1 1/2. Even the bathroom sinks. Transitioning from 1 1/4 tail piece to 1 1/2 traps. All sink fixtures have isolation valves under the appliance including the dishwasher. All water supply lines are copper and and all sewer/drains are ABS.

PS...Sump pump confirmed.
 

Last edited by Norm201; 02-19-20 at 08:30 AM. Reason: added PS
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Old 02-19-20, 09:15 AM
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As long as there's no indication of water, I wouldn't worry about the floor drain. It's obviously been there for the past 50 years and has done its job. It most likely drains into the sump pit. It could also just drain down into a gravel pit below (I have a 1920's house where the floor drain works like that). But you shouldn't be getting any water in the basement anyway.

You may want to figure out where it drains, and if into the sump pit, and if it has a trap in it, it's worth manually filling the trap every 3-6 months.

Same with the high drains. Not really an issue. As long as water is flowing, there's nothing to freeze even if it's just below the surface. Just be careful if planting a new tree or something nearby.

With flips, you can usually tell the overall quality of the work from the finishes. If the trim isn't finished well, who knows what's hiding under the surface. But if they did a nice job finishing, chances are, it was done (at least mostly) correct. I'd also inquire about permits and ask for copies of them all closed out.
 
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Old 02-19-20, 10:09 AM
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It's not so much that the drain lines are above the floor, but that they are at the ceiling level of the basement.
I've seen a number of homes like that due to a shallow sewer main in the street. It probably has both a sump pump and what I have heard referred to as a sludge pump. Yes, anything that drains in the basement like a sink, washing machine or floor drain will have to run to a sump and be pumped to the sewer line by a sump pump, but that isn't a huge obstacle, just requires an occasional monitoring to be sure the pump is working. There will probably be another sump collecting ground water from foundation drains with the "Sludge" pump that pumps to either a dry well or the street.
 
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Old 02-19-20, 10:53 AM
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With flips, you can usually tell the overall quality of the work from the finishes.
Yes, I agree. In this case details were very good.

Thanks, guys. You confirmed what I suspected. I think all is good.
 
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Old 02-19-20, 11:29 AM
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Yes, anything that drains in the basement like a sink, washing machine or floor drain will have to run to a sump and be pumped to the sewer line by a sump pump
Older homes maybe, anything new the foundation and basement drains, anything that goes to a sump cant legally go to a sewer!

I know it varies a lot but that is the trend to separate sewers from storm drain, including home sumps!
 
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Old 02-19-20, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Norm201
In other words basement drain tiles are located at the ceiling of the basement
I've re-read that several times. It sounds like the house was built by M.C. Esher
I'm guessing that the house perimeter drain tiles are tied into the sewer line?

I WOULD double check plumbing permit and local code about whether a perimeter drain / sump should drain to a municipal sewer line.

BYPASS - REALLY old municipal codes (pre-1930s) often required downspouts to be directed into the municipal sewers - this was required so that when it rained, the sewers were flushed out -- directly into the local creek / river, also known as "bypass" mode. Post 1972, the Clean-Water-Act generally required that all sewage be treated, and NON bypassed, which means that most municipal codes have flipped and now prohibit connecting sump pumps, down spouts and perimeter drains into the municipal sewer system.

Of course, your codes may be different, but I'd double check just to be sure.

 
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Old 02-19-20, 09:02 PM
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No the sump does not go to sewer drains. Most likely is goes to curb side or might be tied into storm drains. In my area its been done both ways.
 
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Old 02-22-20, 09:51 AM
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Yes, anything that drains in the basement like a sink, washing machine or floor drain will have to run to a sump and be pumped to the sewer line by a sump pump
Older homes maybe, anything new the foundation and basement drains, anything that goes to a sump cant legally go to a sewer!

No, not older homes, this is how newer homes are just about everywhere. Note that I said "sink, washing machine or floor drain", all things that normally drain by gravity into a sanitary system. It's been many years since foundation drains or any type of ground water could legally go in a sanitary sewer.
 
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