Ask Your Question

Angie's List Answers is the trusted spot to ask home improvement and health questions and get answers from service companies, health providers and consumers. For ratings and reviews on companies in your area, search Angie's List.

Top 30 Days Experts
Rank Leader Points*
1 kstreett 240
2 Guest_9020487 110
3 Guest_9190926 105
4 GoldenKid 100
5 ahowell 95
6 KnowledgeBase 95
7 skbloom 80
8 Guest_98024861 70
9 Guest_9311297 70
10 Guest_9400529 70

*Updates every 4 hours

Browse Projects By Category

Question DetailsAsked on 3/12/2017

Dishwasher/ kitchen sink drains into backyard, creating a puddle that smells. What should be done?

It puddles up approx 4 feet from the house and is parallel from the kitchen sink. The only time it puddles is when the dishwasher is ran, otherwise it is just soggy ground. I dug where the puddle is and its just gravel and dirt/clay.

Do you have the same question? Follow this Question

2 Answers


In most areas, this is illegal but may be a carryover from long ago when it was legal if the house is old - still is legal in probably pretty few areas, mostly on rural properties. This is now considered organic waste or "black water" in most areas, not "graywater" like showers and laundry and bathroom sinks which in some areas, as "graywater", can legally be run to a yard cesspool or flowerbed/tree/lawn watering system.

You said you dug there and it is just gravel and dirt and clay - probe or dig a bit closer to the kitchen to find the pipe it is coming from and see if it has a clean cut end or one that is corroded and deteriorated - which might indicate digging a foot or two further along you might find the continuation of the pipe. Might just need a new section cut in to replace a deteriorated part (or entire pipe replacement if badly corroded). Also, dig down a goot or so there - you may find the pipe exits on the topo of a a gravel-filled cesspit or drain wetwell, the top of which has filled in with topsoil and/or organic matter from the kitchen water. Digging down a foot or so should tell if it is only a surficial blockage, if the drain gravel is totally filled with buildup, or if the line maybe just ends there and has been watering the yard since it was put in. A lot of people do some pretty hick things with plumbing - I have even seen a case where instead of fixing the problem right a guy ran a surface run of old 3" firehose along the side of the drive from the house stack out to a street storm drain as his sewer outlet, because his main sewer line kept backing up from root growth into it.

Anyway - if it is going to a yard drain, maybe that is plugged up - though it is likely if that is the case that bathroom sink and shower water would be appearing there too, as part of a combined graywater waste system intended to bypass the septic system to reduce the exfiltration load on it - more common in clayey soil areas. If a graywater drain line is plugged, then a Sewer Cleaning company is what you need. If it is due to a plugged up cesspool (for just the kitchen waste) then you can call a Septic company to refurbish it or dig a replacement one (depending on how yours is built - i.e. lined or unlined - and why it plugged up), or have a Plumber hook your kitchen drain lines into the main house sewer line, to go to the septic system or street sewer, which is how it would normally be plumbed anyway these days.

If you don't know what your system is, then a Sewer Cleaning company with a sewer camera with radio locator head would be a good idea, to run through the lines and find out where they run and whether they go into a cesspit (or graywater wet well as it is some times called), into a "reverse french drain" into the ground in a leach trench or field, or is just dumping out onto the ground there.

If you are SURE that only the dishwasher does this (you say dishwasher and sink in title of the question, but dishwasher only in text - so unclear which it is), not the kitchen sink or bathroom sinks to shower/tub, then someone just took a shortcut and ran the dishwasher discharge outside rather than connecting it via an airvent to the under-sink drain lines as it should have been - maybe because they did not know how to properly run the drain line and vent it so it backflowed into the dishwasher or sink. Would likely be a minimum service charge of about $75-300 (around $150 range in most areas) by a plumber, plus maybe $10-30 parts, to connect it to the drain lines under the sink. This would be with plastic drain lines under the sink - if metal, then might run 50-100% more depending on how cooperative they are about being cut and tapped into - or he might just replace part (or most) of them with plastic while in there for typically about double to possibly triple the above minimum labor (depending on accessibility and how constrained things are under there) and about $100-150 parts.

If both kitchen sink and dishwasher (which usually drains into the sink drain lines) but NOT the bathroom sinks or shower/tub cause the ponding, then running the drain line from kitchen to the main stack to drain into the sewer lines might run from the 2-3 hour range above to as much as double or more that depending on length of run, and particularly on whether your drain line main stack (main drain line leading into the slab or ground) is accessible or the drain line has to connect into the main stack line under a slab.

And of course, if having to run a ways to pick up a connection with the stack, can run from as little as zero to as much as maybe $500 ballpark (occasionally more) to later have a handyman repair drywall and repaint it if the plumber has to open up finished walls and/or ceilings to run the new line.

Vendor to connect the sink to the rest of the house drain system would be a Plumber - and this would be the best solution in most cases (unless your septic leach field cannot handle the extra water, though kitchen water by itself (as opposed to all graywater including tub/shower/washer water too) is not that much, so if it overloads the leach system it is about to fail on you anyway. In deciding on a solution, consider resale also - because this is something that could affect resale if left as it is.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD



This is James in Member Care. Thanks for your interest in Angie's List!

We'll be happy to help find top rated service providers to assist you with this, but it doesn't look like you have a subscription to the List yet. You can join by visiting or by giving us a call. Our call center is available 8:00 am-9:00 pm weekdays and 8:00-5:00 pm ET on Saturdays.

Thanks for your question and we look forward to assisting you!

Answered 3 years ago by Member Services

Related Questions

Terms Of Use
Privacy Policy