The Village of Oak Park | 123 Madison St.  Oak Park, IL 60302 |

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Disconnect gutters to reduce chances of basement flooding

Sketch of gutter downspout disconnection stepsWith the goal of reducing the chances of backups during heavy rain, the Village is encouraging property owners to disconnect their gutter downspouts from the municipal sewer system.

Storm water from roof gutters is not a problem on normal flow days with minimal precipitation. However, during heavy rain events, the main system can become overwhelmed, sometimes causing sewage and storm water to back up into basements.

Simply by eliminating water flowing from gutters into the sewer system, property owners can help reduce the chances of a back up from the Village’s combined sewer and storm water system.

While some communities require property owners to disconnect their gutters from the sewer system, Oak Park encourages voluntary cooperation. Officials say they hope that when residents consider that a one-inch rainfall on a 1,000-square-foot roof can produce 600 gallons of water, they will understand how diverting storm water from downspouts away from the municipal sewer system can help reduce the chances of basement flooding.

In addition to reducing incidents of basement flooding, disconnecting gutter downspouts from the municipal sewer system also can offer a way to capture free water for plants, lawns and gardens.

Officials urge property owners to consider using rain barrels to store storm water for future use and creating rain gardens or using native plants in landscaping to help absorb runoff.

For more information on flooding prevention e-mail Ask for a copy of the brochure and a link to the VOP-TV YouTube video for tips on how to disconnect downspouts.

Gutter Disconnection Tips

  • Extend downspouts at least three to six feet away from the building foundation wall and direct flow away from the building.
  • Pick a suitable area for the water to flow to such as a grassy area or rain garden. Route downspout extensions under decks or patios to reach these permeable areas.
  • Use a splash block at the end of the extension to avoid soil erosion.
  • Avoid placing an extension across a sidewalk so as not to create a tripping hazard.
  • Avoid flowing water onto sidewalks or driveways since these may freeze during cold months.
  • Remember to cap the sewer where the downspout once connected to prevent debris and animals from entering and odors from escaping.