Local News

Inspections seek to find home drainage problems

At the Nov. 25 meeting, Homewood village trustees approved an ordinance updating municipal code to include a long-term plan for eliminate drainage inflow and infiltration problems.

In December, a member of a local social media page asked, “Anyone know what Homewood code enforcement is doing going around checking downspouts?”

The answer: The inspections are part of the village’s efforts to identify and seek solutions for drainage problems that lead to residential flooding, according to Public Works Director John Schaefer. 

At the Nov. 25 meeting, village trustees approved an ordinance updating municipal code to include a long-term plan for eliminate inflow and infiltration problems. 

The plan is required by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, and although only a small portion of Homewood is in the MWRD boundaries, Schaefer said he wanted to be proactive and implement the plan village-wide, not only to get ahead of possible future regulatory requirements but to help solve problems that often frustrate homeowners.

Problems are most common in older homes, he said, which were built before current standards were in place. 

Inflow refers to problems caused by improper connections to the sanitary sewer system. Schaefer said downspouts and sump pumps can both be culprits. 

The visual inspections are the first step in trying to locate possible inflow problems. 

Infiltration is water that enters the sanitary sewer system through leaky pipes.

In both cases, when public works crews suspect there might be a problem, they use a smoke test to verify. Smoke is sent through the sewer system, and crews watch to see where it emerges. 

When problems are confirmed, the village will contact residents to advise them of options for addressing the situation. 

Schaefer said solving the problem helps residents because it reduces the chance of sewer backups. Flooded basements not only cause damage to homes and contents but can reduce a home’s value, he said. 

Solutions also reduce the volume of water that has to be processed by local sewage treatment plans. 

The amendment to the village code also puts some teeth into enforcement of drainage system regulations. Property owners who the village determines have illegal connections to the sanitary sewer system can lose water and sewer service if they fail to comply with notices to remedy the situation. 

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