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Disconnecting and Redirecting Sump Pumps and Downspouts

Why Downspouts and Sump Pumps Shouldn’t Discharge to the Sewer

Discharging a downspout or sump pump into the sewer system might seem like an easier and more attractive option than having them discharge into your yard, but it is improper.  When down spouts and sump pumps are connected to the sanitary system, their flow is taking up space needed to carry sewage to our treatment plants. These incorrect connections can cause sewage to back up into your basement or overflow into our rivers.

During a heavy storm, each downspout on your home can deliver 12 gallons of rainwater per minute to the sewer system if  connected.  If hooked up to a house’s sewer lateral, a half-horsepower sump pump will pump about 60 gallons to the sewer per minute!

How Do I Know if my Downspout or Sump Pump is Connected to the Sewer System??

If your downspouts disappear into the ground, they are most likely connected to the sewer system. The water from your downspouts should discharge into your yard or an appropriate drainage structure.

The pipe from your sump pump should discharge into your yard. If your sump pump is connected to any other pipe in your home, it is most likely connected to the sewer system.

 Sump Pumps

Where Should I Direct the Flow of my Disconnected Sump Pump or Downspout?

Downspouts should spill the water out on the ground at least 3 feet away from your home. The water can also be directed into a rain barrel or a garden.  Your sump pump system should discharge any ejected water away from the foundation of your home. It can be directed onto the yard, into a garden, or to a rain garden. 

Disconnecting Your Downspout

Disconnecting your downspout is easy to do yourself. 1. Cut the downspout, leaving enough space to insert the elbow. 2. Tightly cap the end of the pipe sticking out of the ground that leads to the sanitary sewer. 3. Attach an elbow to the end of the downspout and use an appropriate diverter to direct the water away from your home.

Disconnecting Your Sump Pump

If you are unfamiliar with plumbing work, do not attempt to disconnect your sump pump. Contact a licensed and bonded plumber or approved home improvement professional for help.