What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Plumbing Problems

We have had on and off plumbing problems since buying this house. We actually are dealing with two drainage systems possibly three, faulty design for both and roots. The first system is the municipal sewage system. The two bathrooms and laundry room drain into the municipal sewage system. Shortly after moving in we discovered a problem with this system which we thought was fixed until another problem appeared the following spring that involved using a porta-john and digging up the neighbours' yard. That ended up being a rooting problem so once the roots were removed that system has been working fine. During the second repair we installed additional drain clean-outs for that system and the system that drains into the natural water body. Ground water, rain water and the kitchen grey water drains into this natural drain system. This means we have to be careful to use a no or low phosphate dish and dishwasher detergent as well as scrap plates before washing either by hand or in the dishwasher. Before you ask, yes this is a perfectly legal, acceptable and common drainage system here. Now we know there is a septic system that we suspect may still be in use for rain water drainage but we haven't found it yet.

plumbing problemsJust outside of the kitchen patio doors there is a pit, brown circular object at beginning of the arrow. Water from the kitchen, rain water and two drains from the patio (one pictured end of arrow) (1) drain into this and from there travel down another solid pipe to the natural water way. We suspected a blockage of this solid pipe that forced water up and back into the house. The only solution was digging up the patio.

We discovered a corrugated drainage pipe that was obviously bowed (2) and (3) so now things got interesting. When the solid pipe was snaked, the snake went through the 'Y' joint instead and snaked the corrugated pipe instead of the smooth pipe. We do not know and the plumber can't figure out why the corrugated pipe is there in the first place unless it was a shoddy repair. At the same time we found the solid pipe (4) that had obviously been patched at some point. The end solution is we are tying all of the drainage pipes together in one solid fashion so nothing can get inside the pipes. The pit is going to be replaced with a clean-out. What we will end up with is a solid plumbing system into the natural system with 3 clean-outs covering all bases.

sludgePictured is the machine our plumber uses to snake the drains. A large coiled, flexible metal rod attaches to the front. It is then fed into the drain and the machine is turned on forcibly clearing any blockage. Additional rods are added as required. When the blockage is cleared is shows as a thick, black and very smelly sludge. In a normal system you would not see this as it would go directly into the sewage system. In our case we could both see and smell it!

Once we got the blockage cleared we discovered another problem. The pipe end in the pit (1) was more than half blocked with cement reducing the diameter considerably which reduces the flow of water from the pit. This creates a greater chance of water backing up into the house. Then when the blockage was cleared it was obvious the patch in the solid pipe wasn't sealed. So we are replacing the solid pipe from the pit that will no longer be a pit to the connection of the first patio drain.

The majority of the work happened Tuesday afternoon. The good news is there is no flooding in the house. It has drained and dried up. The trench my husband dug has also mostly dried. As you can see from the bottom picture the water coming out of the drainage pipe has cleared considerably. The bad news is the plumber wants to leave the open trench as is for at least one week before hooking things up properly. That means we are left with a nice trench, piles of bricks and a pile of dirt for the next week.

Garden Gnome


Dana said...

Oh bless your heart. That must suck. Hope they get cleared up and ready to go very soon.