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The Big Dig

When I first arrived in Harrisonburg, I saw that ToniAnne had those huge black plastic pipes leading from her downspouts toward the front of the house. A little exploration revealed that there was a piping system originally installed which the downspouts were once hooked up to, which would run the rainwater into the street. So I cheerfully hooked them back up, after making sure I could run a hose all the way from the house out to the road.

And every time it rained, we got water in the house. Obviously there was a leak in the system somewhere. This week I finally got up enough energy to tackle the project.

Digging down 4 feet was an adventure in itself. The hole was only about 2 feet square (that's all the room I had without disturbing a lilac bush), and there was a huge crop of good Virginia rocks on the way down. What I found when I got to the bottom were two old ceramic risers placed (not sealed or attached, mind you) but placed on top of a jury-rigged Y-joint. Sheesh. I'm sure a good part of the drainwater was seeping into the ground from the day the house was built, it was such a sloppy job.

Here are the old pipes uncovered, one for each side of the house.

Once I got the pipes out, I tested the crosslink that led water from the West of the house, under the front porch, to the drainage site. And, wouldn't you know it - fifty years ago some lazy construction worker jammed the pipe down on top of a rock rather than take the time to remove it, and punctured it; the spouting was totally corroded and most of the water was leaking out before it even got to the drain. And the pipe was encased in concrete, and inaccessible.

All I could do was pray for inspiration. And inspiration, and help, and guidance came in abundance.

I was able to pull off the bend at the end of the crosspipe, see where the damage was, cut out the rusted metal and clear a pathway that (I hoped) a hose would be able to get through.

I found some sump hose at Lowe's, and using ABS cement was able to create a 30-foot length that I threaded through the spouting.

Here's the hose where I put it in on the West side.

And the hose coming out the East side, showing the exposed Y-joint. The old ceramic pipes were just sitting on top of these holes.

Then it was time to figure out how to hook everything up. I built a section of 3" PVC pipe and added a 3" to 2" rubber gasket on the bottom, which fit perfectly into the hole; then added a PVC cap with a reduction plug which accepted a 1.5" threaded joint glued into the ABS.

Edit: Huge thanks to the helpful associate at Lowe's who pointed out exactly what I needed!

Here's my riser contraption; it looks like something Duke Nukem would use. Come get some!

For the other drain, the second riser had the same rubber gasket on the bottom, and fit nicely into the original downspout.

Here's the completed drainage system.

On the West I had a bit of a struggle hooking the downspout into the ABS line - I finally cobbled together the same type of ABS to PVC joint, but instead of gluing the cap to a PVC pipe it functions as a funnel to catch the runoff. Had to use a hair dryer to soften up the ABS enough to accept the threaded joiner, as it was being added in a place where there was no wide end.

Tomorrow I'll test both sides for leaks, and then fill in the hole and tidy up the funnel contraption a bit, and I'll be done. El Shaddai is great!


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Jul. 24th, 2010 03:44 am (UTC)
Well, ain't you just the bee's knees! Go you!
Jul. 24th, 2010 01:23 pm (UTC)
Thank you, I accept my greatness.
Jul. 24th, 2010 08:53 am (UTC)
Nice work, there!

I'd probably have scratched my head for a good long while before stumbling around looking for a solution...
(okay, probably not quite that bad, but you get the idea)
Jul. 24th, 2010 10:21 am (UTC)
Nice one! A wee bit o'plastic, a wee bit o' rubber....



The Old Wolf

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