Haus Schwatz: Cati's DC Real Estate


Drain, Drain, Go Away...

Help!!  This one is for you house doctors, you diagnosticians of home anatomy. 

It happens all the time, especially in the DC area where former swamp land and clay soil have formed a hostile union:  mold in the basement, wet carpets, rotten doorposts, peeling paint, a nasty, mildewy smell, and all the  other indications of chronic water intrusion.

Such we found in an otherwise beautiful and well-kept house.  The inspector thought that a detached downspout/drain extension pipe might have been the reason water was standing at that corner of the house, and a visit to the property in the rain seemed to confirm this.  The water came down the downspout, massively backed right out of the pipe, and then formed a deep puddle at the green, discolored brick foundation right above the mold downstairs.

Another question we were left with was where the buried extension pipe--once it was re-attached to the downspout-- surfaced.  The buried extensions in the front of the house all visibly drain to the street, but there are no indications as to where the back pipes might daylight--we thoroughly searched lawn, shrubs, retaining walls, all lower parts of the property. 

The answer we got from the seller and (via the listing agent) from the contractor they hired was that the pipe was just buried and ended somewhere in the ground, albeit further away from the house. 

Ehm, excuse me?  Would that not mean the rain water had nowhere to go in the clay?  That it would back up again in a heavy rain and then--if not coming loose at the downspout--go straight over the gutter?  And then accumulate at the same corner of the house again?

I'm confused. Please advise. The closing is tomorrow.  I don't want my clients--one of whom suffers from allergic asthma--have that mold come back right away.

© 2012, Catarina Bannier


Comment balloon 6 commentsCatarina Bannier • November 04 2010 03:28PM


Oh Cati- I am sorry to hear this. Sadly, I have no answers to offer up.  Good luck.  

Posted by Marcie Sandalow, Bethesda Chevy Chase DC real estate (Marcie Sandalow, Compass 301.758.4894 ) over 8 years ago

Thanks, Marcie...  I just talked to the inspector again, and he said there's a possibility that the pipe goes in to the main drain or a storm drain, or that there might be a buried dry well--no way of kowing, though.  Urgh.

Posted by Catarina Bannier, DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way (Compass) over 8 years ago

Cati, yuk!  But it does sound like it can be fixed.  Can't you just dig it up and bury it properly? 

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 8 years ago
Well—that's what they did. The million-dollar question is just: does it go anywhere, or does it just end up in the ground somewhere. The latter really wouldn't be acceptable, but that's what the seller told us. Urgh.
Posted by Catarina Bannier, DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way (Compass) over 8 years ago

I hate last minute glitches.  I hope you were able to put this to right and have a satisfactory closing.

Posted by Susan Mangigian, Chester & Delaware County Homes, Delaware and Ches (RE/MAX Preferred, West Chester, PA, RS152252A) over 8 years ago

Thanks, Susan!  And yes, we solved it...turned out owner/agent had just given us wrong information, or better, the well-meaning owner didn't know what he was talking about.  I called their contractor before settlement (his number was on a bill they gave us), and he explained how the downspouts in the back of the house all drained into some sewer connection.  Boy, was I glad. 

Posted by Catarina Bannier, DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way (Compass) over 8 years ago