My 1956 house had rainwater downspouts routed into below-surface drains. I assume these drains once lead to the house plumbing drain system. The drains are no longer used and the downspouts now empty to the ground surface.

How should I fill or cover the old drain pipe openings? Can they filled with gravel to stop vermin and garbage but allow water to still flow?

Second to this, sometimes mice and toads enter the sump pit in the basement. Are they getting in through the old downspout drains?

  • Could you post a photo of the pipe (including a ruler in the photo might also be helpful)?
    – Tester101
    Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 19:31

1 Answer 1


For the second question you might apply some septic dye into the old pipes. But often things get into the basement any old way, and then get trapped in the sump pit, rather than entering via the sump pit.

If you have a cleanout you can look into, septic dye might also address the assumption that they connect to the sanitary sewer line at all. Perfectly common (but also not to be assumed without checking) that they just go out to drywells in the yard.

If they do connect to the sanitary sewer, you need to be careful not to plug the sanitary sewer if you are plugging the pipes. Inserting an expandable "test plug" to seal the pipe is a reversible means by itself, or can be a way to make sure that concrete does not go down the pipe too far and plug up what it should not. A balloon is a cheaper method for the latter, though one should put only a small quantity (2" or so) of concrete on it at first, and apply more concrete after the first section has hardened, so that excessive force is not applied to the balloon.

  • Regarding the question of animals, I'm nearly certain they enter through the collection pipes that empty into the sump pit. I recently rescued a toad who was sitting at the edge of one of the pipes. It would have been nearly impossible for it to get into the basement, into the sump pit, then climb up to the pipe.
    – Todd
    Commented Aug 28, 2015 at 21:27

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