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Frequently Asked Questions

What all the drains in your house are? Where do they lead? What are they for? Here are a few answers to common questions:

Storm Sewer:

Storm sewers carry groundwater run-off as well as rainwater. Your household sump-pump carries water from your sump pit to the street where it then goes into the storm sewer. Because these sewers lead directly to waterways, waste products should never be let into them.

Sanitary Sewer

These sewer lines carry waste products to the city water-treatment plants. Depending on where you live and the city setup, a sanitary line may lead to a lift station on its way to the treatment plant.

Septic System

In outlying areas (those not serviced by city sewers), septic systems manage your drain systems. Sanitary sewer lines from your house run into the septic tank, which then holds it while bacteria breaks certain parts of it down. The tank then empties into a drain field.

Drain Tile

This pipe is typically corrugated plastic piping (with ridges) and has slots in the top. Groundwater as well as rainwater run-off reroute into these pipes, which then leads the water to an area where it is fed into a storm sewer. Drain tiles can also be made of clay.


This mainline leads out of your house to the city connection. All drains in your house (with the exception of the run-off lines) go to the mainline.

Floor Drain

The line directly below the basement or lowest level floor; this is the closest line to the mainline.

Bathroom Drains

These drains include toilets, showers, tubs and bathroom sinks. Tub drains as well as toilets can sometimes get odd items stuck in them, such as toys or even cellphones.

Kitchen Drains

Kitchen sink drains may also have a garbage disposal attached. These lines lead to the mainline. It's always best not to pour grease down your kitchen sink, even if you have a disposal. If you do end up with grease in the line, flush it with COLD water, not warm or hot, as the warmer temp will melt the grease, and cause potential larger clogs as it may stick to the side of the pipe.


Another name for the mainline coming out of your house. If you need to contact the city about your lines, they may refer you to the lateral (this is what connects to the main city sewer).


There are vents leading from your drainage system. These vents allow gases and odors to be released in a place other than in your home. If you ever smell sewer gas in your home, call a professional immediately.

Sump Pump

This pump is designed to release water that flows into a pit in your house from the drain tile that surrounds your house. Water that goes through this system is also called grey water, and is considered run-off.