Suggestions for a Plugged Pipe

Tue Feb 15, 2005 10:55 am

I have a problem that I could sure use some help in solving.

I have a long level driveway that borders my neighbor's property. 18 years ago, when we moved in, I noticed a 12" diameter concrete pipe that ran under the driveway at a low point in the yard to the much lower neighbor's yard. This pipe provided drainage for my yard, but caused a wet area in the neighbor's yard (only in connection with heavy percipitation and Spring).

I'm not sure when it happenned, but either through direct action or neglect, the end of the pipe in my neighbor's yard has become covered up with dirt. I can't even tell where exactly it is anymore. (The reason I think it might have been purposely plugged, is that they talked aboput putting in a pond in that area and even worked it with a bulldozer a bit. Of course, this was before they got divorced.)

Now, my yard doesn't drain, and I've got a 3 foot deep lake where there shouldn't be one.

On my side of the driveway, the end had become almost buried too. This past Summer, I dug it out and discovered the pipe is full of silt, as far as I could dig with a hand shovel.

I look for signs of water on my neighbor's side of the driveway, but I don't see any places where water is seeping through. (The pipe is about 30 feet long.)

My question is this. How do I clean this pipe out? I keep hoping the water pressure would clear it, but that doesn't seem to be happenning. Any recomendations?

What complicates matters is the my neighbors no longer live on the property, so it will be hard to get a hold of them to see if I can dig on their side of the driveway. (The wife got the property in the divorce, but since has moved away.)

I hope to avoid having to put in a new pipe. Especially since I don't know if I can legally. I don't think it is right to suddenly dump a bunch of water into their yard, but on the other hand, I'm just trying to restore drainage that had already been in place.

I know it sounds like a case for Judge Judy or the People's Court, but is there any way to help nature clear this pipe or do I have to bite the bullet and pay for the excavation then fear the wrath of my neighbor?

I know one thing for sure. I don't want this unintended pond for another mosquito season.

Any technical or moral suggestions are welcomed. Opinions on the matter of law will not be regarded as professional legal advice.


Tom Z.

Tue Feb 15, 2005 11:16 am

Tom, you may be able to clear it with a pressure washer. Just whittling away a little at a time. I'm reasonably sure it had some help becoming plugged. Years ago we had a field tile that drained into a pit that had a tile running across under a roadway. Someone bought a lot and built a home in the area where the tile exited on the other side of the road and his lot flooded after each big rain so he plugged the tile. We of course had the right to open it up and we did, but each spring it would be plugged again. It wasn't until we got the county engineers involved that the fellow understood that the tile was existing and he could not block it. You might want to do a little research and talk to your county engineering or health department to see what can and cannot be done legally to restore the operation of the drain. If it has been legally in place for several years, getting it opened back up should be no problem. But, if it was never approved, you may, as you say, be opening a can or worms. Perhaps the installation of a large drywell and routing the drain into it would be a good solution. But in either case, check before doing anything.

Tue Feb 15, 2005 4:59 pm

I have used a small diamater short nozel on a hose to jet open plugged drains. The water pressure in the hose stiffens it enough to use it as a rod. I push forward pull back a little let it eat some dirt and push forward again.
As far as the legel angles involving neighbors thats another whole kettle of fish.


Sun Apr 03, 2005 9:58 pm

Pipe now flowing!

Well, I researched drainage laws of Ohio and found I was pretty well covered for going into my neighbor's yard to open an existing drainage pipe.

I dug their end out, and removed about 3 feet of accumulated silt in their end with a narrow shovel. Water flowed, but just a little bit. Not much more than was seeping out once I uncovered the end.

With about 4 feet of headwater on my end, I figured it might just need a little help like a poke through the silt to get a better flow, so I bought 40' of 1" PVC pipe and epoxied a pointed chisel in the end.

Starting with the first 10' section, I rammed it into the tile. It slammed into thick muck, but after repeating this a couple of dozen times, I got about 8' in. When I put on the second section, I rammed away some more. When I had about 14' of pipe in the tile it suddenly got real easy to push. The water flow increased dramtically.

Wanting to make sure I got it flowing as good as I could. I got 30' of pipe fed in, which should of put me through the other end. With one last push I managed to get the chisel end stuck. I'm hoping it just got wedged in a root on the far side of hole on my end of the tile. The water flow is still good, so I'll just leave it be until I don't need waders to see what the chisel point hit.

I don't know if my neighbor has seen what I've done yet, but our yards will dry out at the same time.

Now my concern is what will become of the ducks that decided to call my temporary lake home!

I need the ground to dry out, so I can get in there and plow!

Thanks for the advice.

Tom Z.

Sun Apr 03, 2005 10:31 pm


Here in Ohio, even if the tile runs all the way across your neighbor's property, you have the right to dig it up to maintain it. You do, however have to restore the surface. Your neighbor cannot obstruct your drainage.