|November 18, 2004
Water main pain...
In the morning, before I left for work, I went downstairs to chat with
They were using heavy equipment, shovels, and buckets to dig up and
haul the cold wet clay from the basement, preparing trenches for the
perimeter drain system and sump pump.
The floor and
subfloor are gone from the front room, too, and the trench will go
around the fireplace (I think) and loop back around to the old kitchen
While they're digging, I've asked them to run a line so we can put a
gas log in the fireplace reportedly salvaged from the 1809 Capitol.
Off I went to work, secure in the knowledge that the guys were digging
away in my basement, and grateful that Eric & I had never pondered
tackling this job ourselves.
Around noon, I left a message for George, asking if we should have the
water tested, to see if it was ground water, or if it was chlorinated
Flash forward to 2:00 p.m. Having been
away from my desk for a few minutes, I return to find a message on my
voice mail from George, and one on my cell phone, asking me to call
I call back and George asks how I'm doing.
"Just ducky," I reply.
Says George, "Well, I feel like a duck."
"Yes, our basement's pretty wet," I observe.
"Well, that's why I'm calling..." begins George.
"The guys were digging the trenches, and making good time, when all of
a sudden, they hit something."
At this point, I'm thinking of things that would really set the project
I said, "What did they
find, George, Jimmy Hoffa?"
- An underground oil tank,
requiring us to declare our house a brownfield and seek superfund
- Native american remains,
requiring a visit from the state historian to log and document the finds
- Dutch artifacts, requiring
Karen Hartgen to move
in with us.
"No, a water main, in the middle of the room where it wasn's supposed
to be, and water started pouring out into the basement. They called
Bob, Bob called me, I called Tom the plumber..."
Apparently, they all converged on the house, with pumps and street keys
and various emergency plumbing apparatus. They first tried to locate
the main shutoff ... to no avail. They could find all of my neighbors'
shutoffs, but not ours. Not even after they took pickaxes and shovels
to the tree pit in front of the house.
So they relied
on an "old
plumbers trick" -- they bought some dry ice (see white foaming block
above) and packed it around the main until it froze, and they were
finally able to patch the hole. When I asked George about my earlier
request, for water testing, we agreed it's all chlorinated now!
The guys pumped all the water out of the basement and into
Then it started to rain.
Here, some materials wait for installation.
Eric stands on the porch and surveys the view in the backyard.
So, for tonight, the trench runs around the outside of the front room.
Hopefully, tomorrow's digging will go without any additional surprises.