Renovations

The Wall is Wet

Hey guys, I came in last week to an awesome surprise. The wall is wet. Ok, so a lot of the walls are wet at the moment, but this was a new one. One that never was wet before…most importantly it was one that wasn’t too inclined to be wet.

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It was dropping hints at its unhappiness in the form of plaster chunks on the floor. So on Saturday I started thinking. Yes, the drain pipe outside of the wall IS cracked, but a cracked drain pipe wouldn’t cause this much damp. Something…something else. What? I grabbed a bucket, filled it with water (out back…by the old greenhouse because we lack working faucets inside at the moment) and dumped it into the drain. And cried.

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It just sat there. It didn’t go down. So it began.

Maybe the drain pipe was cracked into a hundred tiny slivers and that explains the damp problem on the OPPOSITE side of the wall as well? How simple would that be? Just dig up the flower bed and replace the pipe. So I started digging.

All of those pretty Hesperanthas?

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Painful. It get’s worse. The pipe didn’t go that way. It shot straight out under the asphalt. Yay. The flower bed built up over the years and needs to come down a bit anyway (2 blocks below the Victorian Damp Course: those black bricks there).

The coupling was cracked and the silt seemed to be getting in that way. I didn’t have access to drain rods or a snake, so I cleared out as much as I could…with my son’s toy garden spade which was small enough to fit…to the crack in the coupling so the water had somewhere to go other than backwards into the hallway and gave in for the day.

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Sunday was a waiting game. Still no drain rods.

Monday I woke up and wandered up the street to the house to find this: my husband and the always amazing Arthur trying to get somewhere with: drain rods! Except they weren’t really getting too far. So they went around back to see if they could figure out where the pipe let out.

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I am happy to announce the two drains out back are clean now as well. However we were still clueless on the front. The rest was kind of a blur between:

“…take down this bush so I can get to the drain back there,”…

…then the dogwood looking bush got a really bad haircut…

…then my husband said he might have just pulled a dead rat out of the drain with his bare hands and pointed at a piece of black sludge indecipherable from the rest of the black sludge we’ve been pulling out of drains for the last three days. I took his word on that one…

…then landscaping got tore out while looking for access plates…resulting in zilch….

…then they were standing in the middle of a massive puddle saying they thought the drain led to that exact point…in the middle of the walkway…

…Magically we had a hole in the middle of the sidewalk:

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Then the downspout did this (with some help):

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…And we watched, and waited…
…and waited, and watched…

…to see if the bubbling of water in the hole in the walkway was slowing down or if the water levels were lowering the hole by the downspout. They were, a bit…because the water was going into the bloody hallway again:

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And a third hole started happening over here in order to confirm our worst suspicions:

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Which was: “Yes. When the neighbor replaced the drain pipe in the center of the properties with the new PVC version, bypassing the old terracotta pipe leaving all the water from the passed 20-30 years or so to back up into our basements (good news: we might not need to do major damp surgery to the basement after all) and that massive pipe to pack full of silt…clear back to the drain opening by the door.”

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Just look at that pretty junction…of destruction. Hubs thinks he is going to unclog 25 years of incremental dirty build up from 20-odd feet of Victorian terracotta pipe tomorrow so he can test the part of the pipe that runs under our neighbor’s property to the storm drain at the street. But something had to have made the neighbor replace that part of the pipe in the first place, see?

My vote is: because we have to tear up the side of the house by the gate anyway to fix the gradient and install a drain (because the kitchen/sitting room wall is NOT actually a gutter despite what it looks like now) we might was well run it that direction so when it clogs in the future we don’t have to get the neighbor involved.

Destruction log:

Lost the flowers, the camellias and the dogwood looking one which needed moved away from the foundation anyway, but still.

Found this:

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See that bottom row of bricks? See how there is a shelf thing under it? That’s actually the row of bricks it is suppose to be attached to. That is our bay window seated off the foundation by a good 2″ or so…not to mention crumbling. We’ll wake one morning to it sitting at the bottom of the coal shoot.

I also pulled a piece of the barge board from the roof out of the mess.

I’ll just leave this here and go off to weep over my smoldering wallet.

A revolution must aim at the destruction of the given order and will succeed only by asserting an order of its own. - Rudolf Arnheim

The Laurels undergoes a revolution.