Old houses are a complicated network of drainage pipes that extend far beyond your usual homeowner’s imagination.

Most people just think that their main sewer line goes to the street, and that’s that. Many people are unaware that old houses can have dozens of different drains going to different types of laterals, which in turn flow to different outlets.

We all know about drain lines, but do you know about rain lines?

Your average 100 year old house in Oakwood, for example, has basement window wells, basement floor drains and gutters connected to weeping wells (otherwise known as foundation drains), which can run in three possible directions: to the storm sewer, to the sanitary sewer, or to a back yard cistern.

If your house was built before 1935, there is a good chance that your back yard has a large underground cistern, which can further complicate matters.

Before houses were connected to a city-wide fresh water system, homeowners relied on cisterns to collect rainwater.

Most backyard cisterns have been filled in or covered by a deck or patio, but a significant percentage of Oakwood homes still have gutters and foundation drains that run into a cistern. Whether the homeowners know about their cistern is another matter entirely!

If this is a common sight around your house, you have gutter drains that need to be maintained to prevent a flooded basement.

This type of drain is made from clay, which inevitably collapses after several decades. If you notice dampness or water weeping through one of your basement walls, It’s likely that your clay weeping tiles along the foundation have collapsed and no longer carry water away from your basement.

Many homeowners only come to find out about cisterns, foundation drains, gutter drains, window well drains and weeping tiles when their basement floods.

It is VITALLY important that you keep these drains clean and clear of debris. If they are ignored, years of leaves and other contaminants can block drains and become impacted, which leaves rainwater with only one place to go: your basement.

Fixing a flooded basement can cost many thousands of dollars – and many more thousands again if your basement has been finished! Prevent a potentially expensive disaster by getting your foundation drains, floor drains, gutter drains and window wells cleared out every few years. If you have a particularly old house (built before 1915) or many large trees in your yard, we recommend getting your rain lines cleared every year, as soon as the leaves have stopped falling.

Call Dayton’s drainage experts at (937) 222-8888 to schedule maintenance of your rain lines.