The drainage around a home consists of various features. These features form a part of home inspection. It is thus important to be familiar with the basic working of the system. This will help in maintenance and repair of the system when necessary.


Plumbing Fixtures

Supply systems and drainage systems are separate. What connects these two systems are the fixtures. Examples of fixtures within and around the home include:
  • faucets
  • sinks
  • showers
  • bathtubs
  • bathrooms
  • washing machines

Drainage System

Water thus flows from the supply system through the fixture and into the drainage system. Fixtures around the home normally have individual shut-off valves. These valves allow for shutting off of water supply to a specific fixture when required. This may be during maintenance or repair of the fixture.
Ultimately, water entering a drainage system ends up in a septic tank, or into a city sewer system. The water from a fixture flows first into a drain line, then into a main line. From here the waste water goes into the sewer and is then held in the septic tank.


Septic Tanks

Septic tanks can hold waste water for a period of ten years after which they must be drained. Allowing waste water to stay longer without draining it can create problems. A full septic tank is not a pleasant challenge to contend with. Indicators of a full tank include:
  • wet patches in the area where it lies
  • toilets flushing slowly
  • very healthy grass patches over the tank
  • sewer backups
The solution to a full septic tank is to have it drained.



There are features in each drainage system that helps it to running smoothly. One of these features is called a trap. Traps are used in various fixtures to keep them from clogging and also to keep out the sewer gases from the home. In the kitchen grease traps are designed to trap grease guarding against clogging and sealing out gases. Drum traps collect dirt and hair in the bathtub.
Traps are designed to allow you to clean them. They need to be checked regularly and cleaned for them to work optimally. Cleaning once in three months will work to ensure that the drainage flows smoothly.



Rain gutters are channels for collecting and dispersing water from the roof and away from the walls and foundations of a home. Gutters connect to a down spout which channels water away from the foundation of the building. Ideally, water from a down spout should be dispersed at least 10 feet away from the house.
Gutters must be kept clean for them to work properly. Sometimes when a home has trees near the house, leaves can accumulate in the trough and clog the gutter. A simple solution is to cut down any trees whose branches overhang the house. There are also products that help to solve this drainage problem quite easily. The gutter brush gutter guard is a brush that is inserted into the gutter with the bristles facing up. It traps dirt and allows leaves to pass over the gutter even while rain water gets through into the gutter.



Grading around the house is also a drainage issue as it indicates the direction that rain water flows towards. Positive grading where the slope is away from the house allows rain water to flow away from the house. This keeps the foundation dry and undamaged. Many times problems will emerge when a flowerbed lies against the house. This creates an opportunity for water to accumulate at the foundation of the house.
When water flows towards the foundation or settles there, it can weaken the wall, cause cracks and lead to expensive damage. Keep water away from the foundation. Also ensure flowerbeds do not interfere with the grading.
There are many features to a home drainage system. Each comes with challenges that can be easily resolved and many times avoided. Understanding the home drainage system is beneficial to all.