November 18, 2004
Water main pain...

In the morning, before I left for work, I went downstairs to chat with the crew.
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.
(rear room, east wall)

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 space.
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 (city water).

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 him.

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 back:
  • An underground oil tank, requiring us to declare our house a brownfield and seek superfund assistance
  • 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.
I said, "What did they find, George, Jimmy Hoffa?"

"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 the backyard.
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.

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