I had water coming from the ground from outside my house when using the sink, shower or washing machine. My parents built this house in 1978 and is on a septic system which is only attached to the toilets. So, I started digging, and found that the corrugated pipe (no holes in it) was stopped up with yuk. Stuck a hose with bladder attached and water was coming up further into the yard, so I kept on digging. I found the end of the corrugated hose was attached to a rusted out drum (the size of a oil drum) with the top still on it. There was a hole cut in the top side of the drum for the pipe to go into. I am dumb founded on this set up and wondering if there could be a sump pump somewhere, but I have not come across any electrical outlets or wires close by. I do have a pump for my septic tank but that is 30' away. Does anyone have any idea about this? What to look further for? I am in North Carolina.


2 Answers 2


Sounds like a grey water pit.

Think they are illegal in most places now, but were used for draining/getting rid of grey water.

Grey water(soapy) would go in and slowly drain into the ground. Probably has no bottom and has stones/gravel for drainage.

Soap plus fats plus hair does block/clog up pipes.

Best practice is to redo those pipes to go to the septic system to be legal/in code, but can contact the local authorities to see if grey water systems are still allowed.

Smooth wall pipes do not clog up as fast as corrugated wall pipes.


NC gray water regulations
Source: https://www.thegreywaterguide.com/north-carolina.html

The rules basically say as long you are distributing only on your property you are fine.

Local Drain Field – Grey Water Regulations

If local regulations require, just place a filter on the drain line from your laundry to collect particulates, or other possibly dangerous components, and you're good to go.

A simple particulate filter is cheap. All you have to consider now is how to route the water to where you want it, and away from your drain field.

The best way to do this is once you get the drain line outside of the structure, just connect to a drip irrigation hose, route it to plants, garden, etc. and cover with mulch.

You will immediately begin to notice how much your plants like it, especially in the dry season.

Most laundry detergents are extremely bio degradable now, which allows them to be re-introduced to the environment more easily. A good long drip line (about 50 feet or so) allows drain water from each load of laundry to be released slowly.


Source: http://www.septicline.com/latest-septic-information/drain-field-save-it-by-routing-gray-water-away/

  • The plants like it? I thought the detergents would be detrimental, no? I read the info in the link you provided, but I am somehow not convinced that grey water is suitable for an edible garden BEFORE it has biodegraded.
    – P2000
    Commented Jun 12, 2022 at 22:33
  • @P2000 you are correct, but the trees and bushes love it, most detergent are bio degradable.
    – Traveler
    Commented Jun 12, 2022 at 22:39
  • I thought that was a benefit to the treatment process. So the plants can take grey water before it has bio degraded? Will my shrubs and watermelons not smell like laundry and shampoo?
    – P2000
    Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 17:53

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