Yard drainage/flooding issue..need to pump water. HELP?

lithnights(6)February 12, 2012

I have a major drainage/flooding problem in my backyard that I'm hoping someone can give some advice on. My house is well situated on the 1/2 acre lot and we get no water in our basement, even without a sump pump. So that is great.

But the backyard is a mess. It is on the end of a string of lots (from the left) where I imagine there is a slight graded swale the whole way, and 6 backyards full of water slope towards me. I am the corner lot so it has nowhere to slope towards after me, and that area is below street level. Added in the fact that the lot behind me is a bit higher, has an in-ground pool 10 feet from the lot line, and 2 years ago they added a 3 car garage that is 10 feet from the line. So the impervious ratio on his lot is extremely high. Dealing with him or the township for solution is useless. Basically, I am getting lots of water and it has nowhere to go. It gathers during rains, and takes days/weeks to dry out. It makes much of my backyard useless at times.

This summer (record rainfalls in PA), I had to actually dig a hole and drop in a basement pump to pump the water (hundreds of gallons) to the street. This was a real pain and involved electrical cords, hoses, and me running out there every 10 minutes to check on it (no float on the pump). So in the fall, I built a dry well. I researched like crazy and installed. I dug 4 feet down and 4 feet across.. added the stone, put in the drywell, lined it with fabric, surrounded it with stone, covered it with fabric, and backfilled. I didn't expect much but I figured it would at least capture 50 gallons of water and slowly disperse it. Unfortunately, It has been pretty much full ever since the first rain. The soil is mostly clay so I'm assuming it just has nowhere to go. My attitude is that French drains, dry wells, rain barrels etc. just aren't going to cut it without pumping the water out.

Thus, I want to now install an underground pump system to drain the water from that area to the street. It's about a 50 foot run with a very slight grade up. I am looking for ideas on how to do this or any good websites or books that would help? I know I could hire a drainage contractor but I'm thinking I don't want to spend $5K or so (one estimate) to do this.

I figure I could run electrical conduit from the house to the dry well area. I could place a submersible sump pump into the dry well area, cover with a lid, back fill, and run 1 1/4 PVC trenched underground and run to the sidewalk. Then trench under the sidewalk and either use a pop up to disperse the water onto the area between the sidewalk and street (where it would flow over to the street), or just drill a hole in the curb and flow it to the street. I am looking into what code will allow me to do.

Sorry for the book, I just wanted to give more info than less. Please see the pictures which hopefully help.


Thanks in advance!

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We never know when, or how often, the really big storms will come. A 100-year rainstorm could occur in any year and more than once in a year. And Mother Nature seems to have a way of really pouring it on without let-up sometimes. Add to that the curious fact that it's frequently during a rainstorm that the power decides to got out. Unless you were running your pump with a backup generator, it seems like a very chancy set-up. I'd look at your proposed solution as temporary only. Before dismissing that it would cost $5K for the real fix, I'd, at least, explore your options and find out what it would likely cost. An on-site consultation with a drainage expert might offer you the best direction and would not cost $5K. It doesn't pay to be spending money going in the wrong direction.

If someone else is responsible for creating this drainage problem, a trip to a lawyer might be the place to start. (I would not go without doing all the homework first and being able to surmise what likely happened to cause the problem.) From the limited pictures it's hard to grasp where the water is supposed to go... beyond your property. It's even possible that the subdivision was originally built with this fault. As it is, it looks like there should be a storm drain in your yard since the street is higher. But since there's not, it makes me wonder about the property on the other side of the guy with the pool. Is that yard higher than his, or lower? It's important to find out where the water SHOULD go. (Am I reading your pictures correctly that, in general, water is flowing left to right?) If, hypothetically, you imagined that your yard filled completely until it had no more capacity... if water kept coming into it, where would water go next?

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 5:37PM
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I don't know what the laws are where you are, but where I live you are not allowed to channel water to someone else's property. It must exit your own property to the street.

I agree with Yardvaark. It sounds like you need to research where the city planners designed the water to go and find out why its not going there. Its not hard to find that info. The city should be able to give you the development plan for your subdivision.

Our city worked with us to help us solve the problem we had. I was told that just after the subdivision was built some neighbors further up the hill from us had similar issues to you. The city had to come in and build a storm drain through at least 2 of the lots to solve the issue for them.

If you were not having these issues before your neighbor built his pool and garage then it sounds like you need to bring the issue up and demand it be solved.

If it had happened to us and the city and homeowner weren't helpful in solving the problem we'd be suing both of them for not addressing the issue of drainage and recouping the cost of having to pump all that water out.

In my son's old neighborhood the one house on the corner that was the lowest and kept getting flooded year after year was finally purchased by the city, torn down and a small park sits there now. But it took a long time for that to happen. I don't know for a fact, but I suspect law suits were involved. -

In the link below I show how we solved our problem. But we really didn't have much issue with neighbors' lots draining into ours it was that our lot wasn't graded correctly in the first place and the water had no outlet to exit our property.

Good Luck and please report back what happens.

Here is a link that might be useful: Back yard drainage

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 7:35PM
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I realize this post is several years old, but I'm wondering if this problem was ever solved for lithnights. I have almost the same problem. All of our neighbors have built up their land to build large machine sheds. Mind you the city gave building permits for these sheds. Our backyard is lower than all these buildings as well as lower than our street. We have consulted an attorney briefly and there answer is "you can't obstruct the natural flow of water" so as a result our backyard floods every Spring and anytime we get any type of "heavy" rain. It has made our backyard useless. My children can't use their playhouse and we can't use our fire pit. We have brought this to the attention of the City and they tell us "its a civil matter." they even issued another building permit to one of the neighbors to ADD onto their machine shed AFTER we showed them the pictures of the mess it has created in our yard. We have consulted companies but since our backyard is lower than the street they don't seem to think there is a solution. We are considering digging a hole and installing an outdoor sump pump with a line out to the street. I am wondering if this system worked for the original poster.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 5:15PM
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Yes this does go back and bit, and first off, I apologize to the couple folks who did reply to this, for not getting back to them. I don't know what happened there.

Anyway, we have since moved from the property, and no we did not install my proposed system.

With that said, if I was still there, I would likely go ahead and attempt it. To answer a previous reply, if the water kept coming in, where would it go? Well it would essentially just keep filling up our backyard until it hit close to our house, or drained next door (to the left) who is slightly higher. But it would never get to the street, since the street is a few feet higher. Thus, when folks mention to use natural drainage, that's not an option. The property behind us is higher. The street is higher. The house is higher. The left neighbor is higher. We are essentially in a bowl.

Another idea to think of, and this is based on what we have in our new house, is a huge rock filled seepage pit. It was actually one of the ideas that a company had suggested to us years ago, but I thought it was silly. Anyway in our new home, we are required to direct ALL of our gutter/downspouts into pipes which flow into a 20 x 15 x 3.5 pit. It is filled with 4-6" rock and holds thousands of gallons. 3,000 gallons by my math using 1050 cubic feet, 40% water hold rate of the pit, 7.5 gallons in a cubic foot.

The way I see it for you, and our old house, is 1. Have sitting water. 2. Somehow pump it to the street. 3. Direct the water underground into the seepage pit (drywell) and hope that can handle the water and infiltrate down slowly. Option 1 stinks. 2 and 3 should work, just in different ways.

I'd be curious what you end up doing. Let us know.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 9:30PM
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