“Drywell - User Review”
26 September 2005
Updated: 12 June 2011
Summary: do not install or have installed. If you have one and have problems, take measures to eliminate it. In my opinion, a drywell is not a viable long term drainage solution.
Home built in mid-1950's.
Basement door located below grade with concrete stairs up to yard.
At bottom of basement door stairwell there was a drain set in concrete.
During heavy rain storm, water would come up drain at bottom of basement door stairwell and spill into basement. (Note, that the first time this happened was not home and basement flooded. Later told by neighbor that basement flooding a regular event and previous owner had to call fire department repeatedly to pump water out of basement. Not told about basement flooding before I bought house!!!)
Initial thoughts were that drain in basement door stairwell connected to sewer line inside house and that line from drain to sewer clogged with various debris.
Poured drain cleaner repeatedly down basement door stairwell drain but water would still come up drain during heavy rain.
Do not know how I learned about drywell but decided I would try to see if the basement drain was connected to such a thing.
No idea where in yard to start digging but started just beyond where basement stairs ended.
Dug down several feet and hit a cider block and then another.
Cinder blocks were top of drywell.
Removed cinder block top.
Drywell completely full of very fine dirt: silt.
Dug out all silt and found drywell to be a cone or old time beehive, shaped hole, lined with cinder blocks.
Drywell was 6 feet deep from surface of yard.
At bottom of dry well was pipe that connected to basement door stairwell drain.
Removal of drywell:
With all silt removed from drywell, put top back on and covered up with dirt.
For a year, basement door stairwell drain was not a problem, no matter how much it rained.
And then, water coming back up drain again!
Dug down to top of drywell and removed cider block cover to find drywell full of "silt" again!!
Because basement door with drain problem and drywell located on side yard with rather steep slope downward from stairwell, decided to completely abandon drywell and pipe stairwell drain down slope and away from house.
Dug silt out of drywell.
Where pipe from basement stairwell drain entered drywell, connected a new pipe with a right angle.
Began long process of digging trench from where pipe entered drywell down yard slope.
Careful to keep bottom of trench in a downward slope, eventually trench petered out to nothing or where new pipe would flow out and down the surface of the yard, away from the house.
Laid new pipe into trench and slowly covered up pipe, compacting dirt as I went.
All dirt from trench went back into trench.
Filled drywell up with dirt and said goodbye to stupid drywell idea, concept.
And yes, pipe on basement stairwell drain solved my drain problem for as long as I lived in the house.
Basement door stairwell drains:
My current home does not have a basement door below grade.
However, my daughter's home (built in 1990's) does have a basement door below grade with a stairwell leading up to yard.
At bottom of basement door stairwell, set into concrete, is a drain.
Interestingly enough, this drain is not connected to a drywell but rather is routed under the basement floor concrete to a sump pump pit.
Other pipes from unknown locations, drains, also enter the large sump pump pit.
Inside the sump pump pit is a large electric pump that pumps water out of the pit and onto the down slope of the backyard.
And my point is? That a below grade basement stairs drain is not connected to your sewer line but could be connected to your sump pump pit, if your home is new enough or to a drywell if your home is older.
Sump pumps. If I don't like drywells, don't like sump pump idea either. Water should not be inside house at all.
In daughter's case, if power should go out in severe storm, sump pump pit could easily fill with water and overflow into basement because pump not working.