What the Helen of Troy is This?

This sight from a Columbia Heights front lawn really baffled me. It sorta looks like a periscope of some sort but I can’t figure out the functionality. It doesn’t seem to have a draining functionality. What the hell is this?

29 Comment

  • Pic needs to show more context to make a guess.
    Is there a tree nearby? Could be a pipe for watering.
    Could be connected to a french drain or something underground, but they just haven’t cut the stub down to surface level yet.

  • Drain condom; ribbed.

  • needs property context, but, if the residence has a bathroom in the basement, this could be a blower vent. OR it could be an access to the sewer line from the property with an elbow instead of a cap. OR a dryer vent.

  • The elbow on top is just standards NDS pipe you can get at home depot. I’m doubting the French drain unless they really don’t know what they’re doing. That elbow on there is probably to block the pipe from rain.

  • I’ve never known septic tanks to exist in the city, but could be…

  • I think its the pipe from the show Lost. Reports are shot up from a below-ground bunker and land on the grass outside…

  • Submarine from the navy of the Mole People.

  • As suggested, this is most likely a vent/access point for the sewer drain. I’ve got one on Irving street as do all my neighbors.

  • This is a storm drain that probably spits out into the sewer. Typically it is connected to a hose that is also connected to one’s gutters, but it doesn’t seem to be in use.

  • fallout shelter air vent with filters for decontamination of bio-weapon effects.

  • The photo doesn’t show if the end of that pipe is open or sealed, however the elbow (used to keep debris from falling into the pipe) makes me think it’s open. If it was sealed, I’d say it’s a cleanout for an underground storm drain. If it’s open, then it’s a vent or overflow, probably for a storm drain or underground cistern.

    I doubt it’s from a bathroom or water closet – code wouldn’t allow it to vent so close to the ground. Nor would it be for a sanitary line because of risk of sewer gas leaking. I can only think that someone’s gutter connects underground to the storm drain in the street, and this may be attached to it.

  • Fail submarine

  • North Koreans.

  • Most row houses have this drain sticking out of their yard somewhere. It is for cleaning the city sewage drain if it gets clogged. Usually there is just a small cap but this may have been done by a very bad plumber.

    My sewage drain is cast-iron but I guess if it were replaced these days it would be PVC. Nothing special here. Just a drain folks. Move on.

    • pablo .raw

      That’s exactly what it is, I’ve never seen that kind of cap though.

      • ah

        I think someone was having some fun with their sewer cleanout. I’ll bet you could pull that black elbow off and you’d find the usual screw-in plug at the top of the white PVC.

    • That doesn’t make sense – just a drain.

      First of all the water would have to be close to a foot deep for it to work as a drain.

      Secondly it is in the front of yard and this type of thing would be in the back. You can see the entrance steps in the back of the picture.

      If it is what you say, it must be a very rare. All the houses in our row have drains out back, placed level with the ground like a drain should be – yes.

      But in my 40-ish years in DC and seeing numerous rowhouses, I have never seen this before.

      Any experts out there?

      • My rowhouse in Pleasant Plains has a drain in front and in back. Actually this is not the drain but a clean-out for the sewage pipe.

        If you want to see examples, just walk down Fairmont street between Sherman and Georgia. Every house has these drains in front and back.

  • Rat colony air vent. There in many parks and flower beds throughout the city as a means to prevent mass suffication during the daylight hours.

  • air vent for an illegal under-the-front-yard-excavation rental unit.
    these were really big in the early 2000’s.

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