Monday, April 17, 2017

Of storms, drains and steps

We've just contracted to have our property's drainage improved, because too much water was getting off our house's roof in an uncontrolled way, and eroding the ground near our home's foundations.  The contractor dug a ditch in which to lay pipe and drainage . . . only to have a real gully-washer of a thunderstorm hit us at about 3.30 this morning, filling it with mud and dirt, and threatening to submerge a ladder he'd left in the newly-excavated space.  It was a mess, to put it mildly.

He and his workers have been cleaning up the diggings and preparing to lay pipe.  They also took the opportunity to carry around a semicircular step, to put it in front of our back door and make it easier to step down into the garden.  That was a lot of work . . . the supplier delivered it to the front of the house by forklift truck some months ago, and told us we'd have to get it from there to where we wanted it.  Miss D. and I waited until we had the contractor on board for other things, then offered him extra money to take care of that little problem for us.  It took four strong men, plywood walkways laid over the (still sodden) ground, and a furniture dolly to get it done.

The workers have gone off to get some food and recover their breath before continuing with the drainage system.  The gutters around the front of the house will be extended down both sides to the back garden, and connected to the new drainage pipe.  When it's all done, we should be able to withstand even storms like this morning's without difficulty.

Ah, the joys of home ownership . . .



raven said...

Is water scarce in the summer there? That water could be useful in a tank..

Will said...

raven has a good question. If you have to run a sprinkler system for your lawn, burying a large plastic tank in the yard would make sense. Having a water source for emergency use would be good. Firefighting would be one of those potential uses. Remember, city services can be disrupted.

Lots of roof origin water storage systems are detailed on u-tube. Becoming very common in the AZ deserts with the typical short rain season.

On a Wing and a Whim said...

We're not going there yet - step one is to get the stormwater away from the foundation. Step 2 is to agree upon the design for a patio, and then put that in.

Step 3, once there's a place to put the rainwater tank... then that's when it becomes a factor. Since we only water the lawn four times a year after weed treatment (and we skip that if it'll rain within the next week), our approach to lawn care is watering the herbs, and then ignoring the way the grass dies off in summer. It comes back in fall, and a golden brown lawn doesn't need to be mowed.

Anonymous said...

I fully understand that house builders are motivated solely by three things: profit, profit, and profit. That said, I fail to understand why they frequently totally ignore things that would be remarkably simple to accomplish when heavy equipment is on-site during the early stages of construction.

Like burying drainage pipe. A Ditch Witch trenching machine is there at some point between foundation backfill and rough grading, and two hours of work with it and a couple hundred dollars of PVC pipe would solve so many future problems.

A builder whom I know personally takes the extra step of placing 2 inch PVC pipe every 10 feet and a foot down below each driveway he installs to make it easier to run future electric, sprinkler lines, etc. under the driveway. It may never get used, but if needed it's there; he even marks the locations with stainless screws installed flush with the driveway surface as the concrete sets.

As to Raven's point on the buried water tank, I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss it as solely a weed treatment aid. I don't know if you're on a municipal water system or a well, but if the former that tank could quickly turn into emergency toilet flushing and/or backyard food plot water should that need arise. And, when you get around to installing it, make it twice as big as you think you need and don't forget to create an adjacent dry well to handle whatever overflow it suffers from heavy thunderstorms.

Pro tip: Concrete septic tanks are readily available in 1,000, 1,500 and 2,000 gallon sizes, the 1K size being the most common; the 2K size is nearly perfect for use as an underground cistern, and it'll have an outlet hole - there to permit piping waste flow into a leech field - perfect for managing overflow itno a dry well. And, I've never seen a neighbor express a moment's interest in septic tank installation, so your emergency water supply remains your secret. 2nd Pro tip: some 18" inside diameter concrete pipe - routinely used as under-driveway culverts - installed vertically adjacent to the "new" septic tank - provides ready access to the emergency water pump, and when equipped with a concrete cap that's several inches below the sod permits fairly easy access to the pump. 3rd Pro Tip: if you're building or doing a major remodel, make some plumbing adjustments to put the toilets (or, at least one of them) on an independent pipe system with some control valves; that allows feeding at least that one toilet with output from the "emergency" pump (even if it's a manual pump) should the need arise. Not having to haul water buckets to the toilet is a feature not to be discounted.


Leatherneck said...

I was a little taken aback when you mentioned "seeing the workers off to find lunch." Perhaps were more rural than you in our county of 10,000 citizens, and few eateries within 15 miles, but we always provide lunch for whatever crew we might have on site. In addition to being an enjoyable get-together mid-day, it pays off in ancillary ways as well: less time off the job; undemanded but frequent good will; and little signs of extra effort on many tasks. You might be surprised at the culinary skills the occasional worker (or crew boss) provide as well. I viewed the practice as enjoyable intercourse with many benefits.