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Does anyone know how long ago these types of pipes were used or what they were primarily used for? Some people have said that they were the original "French Drain" or call them drain tiles. But I am not totally convinced as they don't look like any pictures of old drain pipes that I have seen. The pipes I have are about 12.5 inches in length, 3.25 inches wide at the base and 3 inches high. They have an arched top and they are not mechanically joined to each other, they are just tightly butted up against each other. They look to be clay or terracotta. I have found them buried in my backyard at depths of between 2 - 3 feet deep. Right now I have found two sections of between 20 - 30 feet in total length both running from points in neighboring yards into a point in my yard. Unfortunately, their pitch is such that they bring large amounts of water into my yard after it rains. I have tried to seal the pipes at the edge of my property with hydraulic cement to stop the flow into my yard, but it hasn't had an impact. I assume that there may be more sections that I haven't yet found. Any other ideas on what I can do to stop the water draining into my yard? Do I have to dig up all the pipe?
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Edited by Mark S.
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That's terra cotta drainage tile, specifically manufactured for farming.  Your property is probably a farm, or was farmland.  The tile was originally created by a farmer up near Rochester, NY probably around 1840. There's a museum somewhere up there that  has a huge display of the different types.  The shape in your photo could be well before 1900.

The tile throughout your property is likely broken and even crushed in many locations.  It's no longer working as a 'system'.  It may require either restoring it or removing it.

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I had about 20 feet of newer terra cotta tiles on a previous property that were completely plugged with clay.

It takes years to accomplish that, but clay sure stopped the flow. If Bill is correct and when is he not? those tiles have historical significance. Hire some history students to dig it all up.

It sounds like you could install a curtain drain, a deeper ditch that diverts all the groundwater across the upper slope side of your property. The ditch can have perforated pipe laid in it with drain rock or washed gravel. In sandy soil, wrap the pipe with filter cloth to keep silt out of the pipe. But there should be a destination that won't bother neighbors downstream.

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I installed a curtain drain in my yard this past June. 360 feet of trench, pipe and gravel.  I found 3 old clay drains running in different directions during the dig.

 

My house was a farm. My pool is sitting on the site of the original barn, that has been gone since the depression. 

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