Perimeter Drain Blockage in Vancouver | Featured Home Inspection

We inspected this property in Vancouver, which was built in 1943. Most of the home was in “original” condition, and many of the components (wiring, insulation, plumbing) were original and in need of a lot of work.

In the basement, we can see an interior sump, which were popular until about the early 70’s. The sump pit is a receptacle for rain and surface “storm” water, and is designed to overflow into the city storm drain. However, the problem with interior sumps is obvious – directing water into the basement puts the home at risk for flooding. Right away we can see that there is a moisture problem in this area, as the owner has placed a dessicant container next to it.

This downspout tied into the perimeter drains. Homes built after 1986 in the lower mainland typically use a 2-pipe system, however this was a single-pipe system.


Inspecting the exterior, the original terra cotta perimeter drains were noted, and I recommended having a drain line scan performed. A plumber can insert a camera through the lines and determine if there are any blockages or breakage. Old terra cotta lines, while resistant to root damage, can crack or crumble below grade.

The plumbers scanned from three locations, including the drain at the bottom of this stairwell. Flooding of the stairwell was evident (not in the photo) due to a large amount of wood rot at the base of the door.

Here’s a photo from the drain camera – we can see some debris but the line is mostly clear. However, there were some issues.

1. The interior sump piping entry points were extremely high (only 4″ below top of pit), so there was almost no “buffer” should the lateral back up.

2. There was a large obstruction near the sump (photo below):

The drain in this area (below the deck) was completely blocked off – whether this was intentional or a result of construction work was unclear. In any case, it will not function and required expensive excavation and drainage work.

The plumber quoted from $10,000 – 18,000 to repair the issue, and the buyer saved a significant amount of money off the purchase price of the home.

If you’re buying an older property, I recommend having the drains scanned. And, of course, getting a high-quality Home Inspection performed by us. It pays!

Give us a call today! – 604 395-2795

About the Author DavidFairbairn

Author David Fairbairn is a certified, licensed home inspector serving Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. He has been featured in the media and has contributed to "24" Newspaper, and Global TV. He has spent years working with residential and commercial building projects, and holds a Power Engineering License in BC. Why not give him a call for your next Home Inspection? Call 604 395-2795 or email today!

follow me on: