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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2009

    Default Weird old Trench Drain question

    My parents have a house about 40 years old, with a sump-pump in one corner and a weird trench drain around the whole basement perimeter. It is weird because it is about 1.5 inches wide (away from the wall) and it is completely exposed to the basement. I could pour sand into it. Their basement is mostly unfinished.

    In places the trench drain is clogged, so it doesn't transport water to the sump pump. It looks like it may have been intentionally, but poorly, filled in in places. Either that or remodeling compounds found their way into it accidentally.

    My parents basement flooded over the weekend when their hot water heater leaked and if the trench drain had worked they would have had no problem. I would like to clean it out and make use of it but not if that is a bad idea. Were these kind of drains clogged intentionally as a matter of course as this method fell out of vogue, or would you be more inclined to believe that it got clogged by accident, or intentionally to stop a bigger problem somewhere else down the line?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Houston Texas

    Default Re: Weird old Trench Drain question

    I'll bet the basement flooded one time, decades ago.

    Then; Someone thought this was a good idea. Which, if it works well, is good.

    Then; No one could remember who was alive when the basement flooded, so filling in the trench to make table legs flat seemed harmless at the time.

    Then; We arrive at today.

    Clean out the trench and see what happens, if anything.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Pacific Northwet

    Default Re: Weird old Trench Drain question

    I've seen the type of drain you mention. These were usually installed after the fact, often by cutting out the floor (or not pouring the slab all the way to the wall), to alleviate moisture problems. Nowadays proper drainage is installed outside of the foundation, but back in the day nobody did that.

    I would guess the drain was filled in/blocked by accident, by someone who meant well but didn't understand the problem, or by fill material sloughing off from under the slab. If I were in your situation, I'd clean out the drain so it works properly.
    The "Senior Member" designation under my name doesn't mean I know a lot, it just means I talk a lot.I've been a DIYer since I was 12 (thanks, Dad!). I have read several books on various home improvement topics. I do not have any current code books I can refer to. I was an apprentice plumber for two years.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2008

    Default Re: Weird old Trench Drain question

    Restore the drain then check with a garden hose to see it water actually flows where you need it to. While these types of drains are not ideal, any solution which prevents flooding is a good solution in comparison to no solution.


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