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What is the difference between Storm and Sanitary Drain?

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Drains can be a little confusing and intimidating. Especially for the average homeowner that does not really know too much about them. A common question is, “what is the difference between a storm drain system and a sanitary drain system?”

Well, there are actually quite a few differences between a storm drain system and a sanitary drain system. There are things like the location of the systems, where the water comes from, and processes they go through. But a simple way to explain and describe their differences is as follows.

A sanitary drain system takes the discharged water or contaminated water from equipment in your home that output unclean water, and treats to make it clean.

The drain system basically carries contaminated water that needs to receive treatment. Whereas the storm drain system carry water that comes from the ground and weather conditions and not contaminated by human waste.

Major differences

Some examples of these differences are that

However, in a city, sometimes there is a combined system.

  • Sanitary drain would be taking water from bathrooms, sinks, and toilets in your home, and proceed to drain that contaminated water in a line to receive treatment.
  • Storm drain system would take ground water from rain or snow that has melted, and drain it in a separate line. As the water is not contaminated, there is no need for any treatment

What is a combined system you might ask?

A combined system is when ground water from rain or snow, and drained water from the houses are mixed. In other words, it is when the storm and sanitary drain systems are mixed together.

Professional’s insights

When a plumber arrives, they can quickly figure out what type of system they are dealing with, whether it is a sanitary drain system, storm drain system, or combined drain system. Accordingly, they can tell you the next steps to effectively fix the problem with that specific drain.

Right now, the code requirement is that the storm system cannot be mixed with the sanitary system. They need to be apart so that the uncontaminated water does not have to go through the cleaning treatment, and the contaminated water gets all the treatment it needs.

To sum up, the difference between storm drain systems and sanitary drain systems should be a lot clearer now. Clearly, there are some big differences between the two. Starting from where the water comes from, to what happens to them afterward.

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