I've lived in my house about 4 years and had a lot of issues with water after heavy rains. The house has some sort of tiling system bringing water to the sump, which keeps the rest of the basement dry but can bring an overwhelming amount of water to the sump after heavy rain. Several years ago this led to an overflow, so I added a second sump pit & pump next to the existing one. This year I still had to add a temporary backup pump to prevent an overflow after a heavy rain.

If region is a factor, the house is in Minnesota, USA, in an area with fairly heavy clay-based soil.

I'm not expecting to solve this entire problem with this question, just hoping to understand a specific aspect of how foundation drainage systems work.


Today it started raining so I went down to make sure the sump pumps were ready. To my surprise, in the standing water beneath the float switch, there was a salamander (roughly 5" long) swimming around. (It was carefully captured and released in a nearby ravine.)

How did it get in? Would there typically be openings in a drain tile system where a small animal could enter?

  • 1
    Nothing to get excited about...happens all the time.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jun 24, 2023 at 17:11
  • 1
    Drain tile needs openings to let the water in, but they are usually small and usually at a depth below for most animals, unless your system is high(less than a foot or two below ground level). Do you have a backflow preventer on the outlet pipe/s?
    – crip659
    Jun 24, 2023 at 17:12
  • @crip659 yes, there are check valves on the pipes
    – hikarikuen
    Jun 24, 2023 at 17:18
  • Name it Houdini
    – Traveler
    Jun 24, 2023 at 18:22
  • The same ways mice and snakes sometimes get into basements. Cracks in wall or foundation, door not sealing as tight as you think it does, riding in or on something you brought in from the yard, and so on. Once in, it needed water and the sump was the best available source.
    – keshlam
    Jun 24, 2023 at 21:13

1 Answer 1


There shouldn't be any openings in the actual tile system other than the small holes in the piping in your basement but there could be openings where the sump pumps discharge the water. The salamander could have found his/her way into the basement through a window or door or was hiding in some stuff you brought in from outside. Depending on the type of pumps, it could even make it's way through the discharge pipe and out the intake into the sump pit when it was small and gained weight eating bugs in your basement. Bottom line, don't lose sleep over this.

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