Standpipe Can Prevent Flooded Basement

Standpipes can be sealed into a floor drain with an expanding rubber bushing, or a threaded steel coupling in the pipe.

A standpipe can prevent a flooded basement. The problems requiring standpipes are poor drainage around the house and old drain tiles, that may now be filled with clay. These may be forcing ground water through the block walls or floors. The proper solution requires examining all the information. Read the do not waterproof the basement wall on the inside article.

A standpipe is an open-ended pipe inserted in a floor drain. It must be watertight so any water rising up in that drain rises in the pipe, not out on the floor. They were popular in the 1950’s and 1960’s when the county drain system could not handle all the storm water. Instead of flooding, those who had standpipes in their drains bought some time before they would flood.

There are different ways to seal a standpipe into a floor drain. They include expanding rubber bushings, and leading-in a threaded steel coupling and screwing a pipe into it; the 1950’s method.

Note: Older homes in our floodplain that do not have a three-inch opening in the floor drain could already have a coupling leaded-in. You will swear there aren’t any threads in the coupling, but five minutes with a pipe tap and you will see. It will help to measure the hole first to see if the plumber leaded-in a 1 1/2″ coupling or 2″.

The danger from using a standpipe is when it is too tall or capped. For most four-inch thick basement floors, (our 1950’s neighborhood) an 18″ standpipe is safe. For local information, contact your city building department for feedback on your area’s success with different sizes. A capped drain or standpipe over 36 inches tall can hold back so much water that your floor can buckle, crack and then leak. Remember, you own a house, not a boat.

The real cure for your problem is to eliminate the source of the water. That wet corner in your basement could have a missing downspout, a low flowerbed or a patio pitched towards the house. Fix that first. There is no sense in dealing with water that should be draining away from the house. This is why I am not in favor of inside drain systems. Because they deal with water flowing around your footings and through your walls that should not be getting there in the first place.

Finally, check out the main sewer drain from the house to the city sewer line. If you have a medium to large tree in the front yard you could have roots. Roots clogging your sewer drain to the city will cause water in the basement during a heavy rain. A standpipe will only delay and camouflage a clogged sewer main.

Re-grade (raise) the ground around your house to divert the water away from the house, the basement and the drain tiles.

Then have your main drain snaked out by a professional using the largest cutter he is capable of getting through the pipe. If there are roots in the drain start using a foaming root destroyer twice a year (spring and fall) to kill the roots in the sewer pipe. This may buy you some years without having to dig up the front yard.