I have a 6” corrugated drain pipe that my gutters on the back of my house drain into, and then the drain pipe runs underground along the side of my house. I’m not 100% sure where it ends.

I’m looking to have some extra drainage built in my backyard, and it occurred to me that it might be possible to tap into the existing drain pipe and send the water that way, which would significantly reduce the amount of labor to build the drainage.

The problem is, again, I’m not sure where the drain pipe ends. And I need to know where my water will drain to. Is there a way to locate the pipe underground without digging up my whole lawn?

I have found part of the pipe on the side of my house so I know it goes at least 20’, but then there’s a pave walk in front of the house and I can’t predict where the pipe will go. If I start digging on the other side it would just be taking a guess of where it goes, it would be a crap shoot.

One potential solution that occurred to me would be to string electrical wire down the pipe and attach my tone tracer to the wire. Then if I can trace the wire (just like tracing it through the wall) I could locate the pipe location underground?

3 Answers 3


Any decent plumber with modern equipment can run a line-locating snake down from where the gutter drains into. The tip/head has an RF transmitter and the plumber walks around with a detector that tones at different pitch the closer he/she gets until they are right above it. Should cost no more than like $100 max. Save yourself some trouble and call someone in to do it.

  • Agreed. Some also have a depth finder, and they can also come with an inspection camera. Not a bad idea to see if the drainage or drainpipe has blockage. Sometimes plant roots or land movement can block the flow.
    – P2000
    Sep 11, 2020 at 5:47
  • ...and unless your tone tracer is made for buried cables, it will be useless - it takes special (and spendy) equipment to locate through soil.
    – Ecnerwal
    Sep 11, 2020 at 11:32

get a helper to listen at the pipe opening them probe the ground with a steel rod it should be possible to hear when the rod hits the pipe.

then play "battleship" to map out the route of the pipe.

  • "You sunk my battleship!" Sep 13, 2020 at 14:18

It's very simple and easy to location both the path and the depth of a buried pipe provided you have the right equipment. For example:

RadioDetection Locator

This type of locator coupled with a sonde that you push through the pipe using a fish tape will get you what you're looking for in short order.

Some rental shops have these for rent. Otherwise you're better off hiring a local private utility locator to do it for you.

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