Footing drains: How do I tell if they are active?

Do you have a house built before 1970? If so, you may have active footing drains in your basement. The following is an easy to do self-inspection.

If you inspect your basement, think you have active footing drains, and live in active basins 1-5 (see map), you are required to separate them from the saintary system. There may be grants available to help pay for the updates. Call the City of Duluth’s I&I program at 730-4130 for more information. If you don't live in these basins, you can either voluntarily disconnect from the system and pay for the work yourself, or wait for your home to be inspected. Finanical assistance for updates may be available at that time.

  1. First, look for a manhole in your basement. If there isn't a manhole, you probably don't have footing drains that are connected to the sanitary system. You might be able to find an outflow onto your property somewhere outside.
  2. footing drains Did you locate a manhole? There may be several pipes connected to it. One will carry the sanitary wastewater from inside your house. The largest one will is the lateral pipe leading to the main sanitary sewer. Other, smaller pipes, might be the footing drains. (BUT, they could also be connected to improperly-plumbed showers, sinks, etc). If there is flowing water coming out of these pipes, you probably have active footing drains.
  3. If the manhole in your basement is wet with clear water, you may have active footing drains.
  4. If there has been no recent precipitation outside, and the footing drains that come into the manhole don’t have any dust on the bottom of the pipe (flow lines,) you may have active footing drains.
  5. If you can't tell, have someone look at them to tell you if there active. Call the City of Duluth’s I&I program at 730-4130.
  6. Man holes need to be free of sewage (no back ups in the sanitary sewer) to tell if the footing drains are active. If inspection crews can't see the footing drains, they can’t make a determination on whether the footing drains are active or inactive. If there is sewage in your manhole, the lateral pipe leading from your house to the main sanitary sewer line needs to be cleaned.

NewMarch 2009 View a presentation describing the City of Duluth's Inflow & Infiltration reduction project.