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How can I locate underground pvc (?) piping used for gutter downspout drainage?

How can I locate underground pvc (?) piping used for gutter downspout drainage?


  #1  
Old 07-25-10, 03:58 PM
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How can I locate underground pvc (?) piping used for gutter downspout drainage?

We bought our home four years ago. When we bought it, we were shown a pipe that went underground and ended up in the woods to the front of our house. The end of the pipe came out of the ground and we were warned to keep it unclogged and not to loose track of it.

So what do you think we did? Yes - we forgot about it and now we're getting leakage in the basement (a corner by one of the downspouts). So, I went out to where I remember the drain to be - and dug - but can not find it anywhere. The area is really rocky and I'm having an impossible time of trying to dig and find it.

We went out when it was raining to see if we could find any evidence of water spewing out and puddling up under leaves or something but no such luck.

I guess the idea of putting dye in the downspouts is out since it seems to be well underground by now?

I am hoping there is some sort of pipe (plastic/pvc?) detector that I can swing around to help me locate it. Any suggestions? preferably something that is rentable.

Maybe there is some other way of locating this pipe that we aren't thinking of....

Thanks for any hints or guidance.

PS - We tried to locate the building plans but no such luck.
 
  #2  
Old 07-25-10, 04:34 PM
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If you have a general idea where the PVC drainage pipe ends, I would take a metal rod (e.g., 3/8” diameter) to poke through the ground. PVC should have a hollow like sound as compared to hitting a rock. Going horizontal to the ground where you think the opening has been covered by dirt or grass may also locate it.

You’ll need to use judgment not to crack the PVC but light tapping shouldn’t be a problem . . . even if you cracked it, it should be an easy repair near where it terminates.

Most people lay pipe in a straight line unless they encounter an obstruction . . . line-up downspout to approximate area where you think the hidden pipe resides, and start probing that area first.

If that doesn’t find it, I would fill the downspout full of water and keep it relative full while I searched for evidence of water near the drainage area . . . give it some time to seep out . . . easier to spot on a dry rather than rainy day.
 
  #3  
Old 07-25-10, 04:48 PM
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A long electricians or plumbers tape and a metal detector might work.
 
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Old 07-26-10, 10:10 AM
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follow up question

thanks for the input. I do not think the tapping around will find it - we've already been digging.

Regarding the metal detector - will they find pvc/plastic (or whateveris typically used for underground drainage)? Are they rentable? What should I ask for?

thanks for all input!
 
  #5  
Old 07-26-10, 10:42 AM
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I don't know of any rentable detectors that would detect pvc. A snake long enough to reach the end might surface or provide a metal element that a detector might pick up. Plumbers are used to clearing blocked drains and could do the job. Check your local rentals to ask what they have that might help.

The old adage, the grass is always greener over the septic tank holds true for extra water as well. Sometimes stepping back and looking over the area will give some indication as to where the green plants are happier.

If all fails, digging a perpendicular ditch towards the house where you are sure you will cross paths with the pipe will eventually find it.

Bud
 
  #6  
Old 07-26-10, 10:50 AM
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No..they won't find plastic...that's why you would need to put the wide plumbing snake into the pipe. Some rental companies may have them...I'm pretty sure I've seen some.

Some water witchers say they can find them as well...I've seen it done on more than one TV show.
 
  #7  
Old 07-26-10, 12:59 PM
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metal snake

Oh, now I get it!

The metal snake helps with the detector...

thanks!
 
  #8  
Old 07-26-10, 02:50 PM
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whats the distance involved ?

I would think by the time you rent the detector and a long fish tape on the chance that you can find it it might be cheaper to hire someone to locate it for you
 
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Old 07-26-10, 03:40 PM
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Flush some dry ice down it then plug the gutter end and look for smoke. They do make "smokers" for checking sewer lines but not sure what they are called or where you would get them.
 
  #10  
Old 07-26-10, 04:43 PM
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Any way to contact the people that sold the house and let them show you where it was again? Did the realtor get involved in this so they might know?
 
  #11  
Old 07-26-10, 11:59 PM
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answer some questions

Thanks everyone - To answer some questions:

Its probably fifty feet or so across grass and then it goes into very rocky woods.
The realtor has some memory of the location but its different than mine - and I looked where he said.
Unfortunately I can not ask the previous owners.
 
  #12  
Old 07-27-10, 05:20 AM
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Locating Pipe

I use 2 pieces of #4 grounding wire 24 in long. Straighten the wire and bend a 3 in. "L" on one end of each piece. Hold one wire in each hand with the 3 in. part vertical and the wires 16 in apart parallel to the ground. Walk slowly in the area where the pipe is located and perpendicular to the direction the pipe is routed. When crossing the pipe, the two wires will be attracted to each other. Don't laugh until you try it.
 
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Old 07-27-10, 05:43 AM
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And you have to hold the short ends relatively loosely....so the long ends can easily move.
 
  #14  
Old 07-27-10, 06:08 AM
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:SA:

I would rather laugh before trying it than being ticked-off foolishly wasting my time .

http://www.uiowa.edu/~osa/burials/Dowsing.pdf

“One interesting study (Foulkes 1971), demonstrated that dowsers were completely unable to find small buried objects in addition to being completely unable to detect water.”

Some believe a rain dance will make it rain . . . it works if your watching a Doppler radar or see storm clouds headed your way!
 
  #15  
Old 07-27-10, 05:17 PM
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Pipe

A 4 in. pipe is not a small object and we are not looking for water.
 
  #16  
Old 08-04-10, 10:34 AM
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found it!

Well, I'm embarrassed to admit it but here is the final result of the saga of finding our pipe:

We ended up with a plumber at our house to replace a sump pump. So, I asked him to find the pipe. He took out his huge snake and told me to follow the sound of the snake underground. I enjoyed doing it actually - and was amazed at the direction it headed. I'm following the snake and then I see it - the pipe! It might as well have been a neon sign! It was huge and completely visible!

We had been looking everywhere except where it was because we thought that was our neighbor's property. It was probably five feet from us at one point when we were digging - and did I mention it was huge and could have been a neon sign!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I did mention the theory of the wires and walking until they came together. He said he has seen that theory work on many occasions - although water has to be involved.

Thanks for all your feedback!
 
  #17  
Old 08-04-10, 10:51 AM
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Ahhh! the stories we could tell about similar occurrences. It's the happy ending that makes them bearable. Thanks for being brave enough to let us know.

Bud
 
  #18  
Old 08-29-10, 03:17 PM
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The dowsing thing works even with an empty pipe. I have the same drain setup as the OP and I just tried tracing it with two "Miss Dig" flags with the steel wire shafts. The flag shafts are bent as Wirepuller said and held loosely about shoulder width in front of me with the flag ends down and the wire ends pointing foreward. When I cross the pipe the two wires swing so that they parallel the pipe.

I've tested this technique on a pipe 15' underground and it worked a treat.
 
  #19  
Old 08-30-10, 04:10 AM
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Support

Thank you, Roach711, for your support. Have a great day!
 
  #20  
Old 08-30-10, 08:38 AM
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My pleasure, Wirepuller! I learned the technique from one of our local Miss Dig guys. He first checked for underground stuff with his electronic ground radar thingy (or whatever it was) then checked again by dowsing with the bent miss dig flags. He said the electronics would sometimes miss stuff where the wires were always accurate.

Interestingly, I showed one of the girls I worked with how to do it and the wires refused to move for her. Don't know if it's a chick thing or what, but it worked for the all the guys but not for her.
 
 

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