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"Murphy was an optimist!"

Heading to the trenches March 7, 2009 10:09 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Daily Life, House
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Yesterday I inspected the trench that one day will become a French drain which keeps water out of our basement on heavy rains only to discover that a wall has partially collapsed. With rain in the forecast for Sunday night and Monday, I have to redig the trench or face having a pool of water that will slowly seep into the basement.

What prevents me from completing the trench? Higher priority projects, time, money and materials. The digging of the trench has to be completed. Long ago I concluded that renting a backhoe or paying someone to complete the excavation would be wiser than digging the rest out myself. I am going all the way down to the footers so that this repair is as long lasting as possible and adds value to the house. I need 2-3 dump truck loads of 3/4inch gravel. Tar for the wall. A thick millimeter plastic or other liner to go on top of the tarred wall. 4 inch heavy PVC with holes drilled in it OR ceramic weeping pipe as the drain. Must debate the pros and cons of wrapping the pipe in fabric as it helps keep sediment from clogging the pipe but the filtering material itself can become clogged and defeat the purpose of the pipe. May be better to have an easily accessible cleanout from the driveway. Need backfill dirt. Additionally I may take advantage of the exposed wall to run an additional waste water pipe to the property waste water main pipe so that sinks, or a washing machine could easily be installed in close proximity to the front wall of the house in the basement or garage. Estimated cost to complete the French drain project: $600-1200.

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1. Steve Skinner - March 7, 2009

Isn’t it a joy to own a house; the fun never ends! I need to get up onto the roof and clean the moss that is currently attacking the shingles. I’m still considering my options because the pitch of the roof is so steep I am sure that a mountain goat would likely turn back.

2. Doug McCaughan - March 7, 2009

No one ever told me just how much time a homeowner spends on the roof. Moss is tough to deal with! I was also never warned that pets and children would turn a significant amount of my life to dealing with bodily fluids.

3. Morgan - March 7, 2009

Trenches scare the bejesus out of me. We had the Knox county rescue squad come to my work and do a power point presentation on how people are often crushed in them. Fatally. As an archaeologist, I have been in trenches that were over my head and about the width of a backhoe bucket and had NO CLUE the dangers related to trenches. I guess UT doesn’t care about OSHA regulations.

They even showed us some pics of some of the dead men that were crushed by the dirt.

So no matter how much it costs I think its very worth it not to risk your own life…and I hope they properly shore it if its deep enough.

4. Doug McCaughan - March 8, 2009

The first time we had such a heavy rain..so many years ago when so many people in Knoxville declared “I’ve never had water in my basement but we flooded”..I was out in the rain digging that trench with that exact fear. With every scoop of the shovel I sank into the mud half way up my ankle and struggled to pull it out.

At construction sites you frequently see these large steel plates connected by a couple of steel rods about the width of a backhoe’s shovel. That’s to lower into a trench to prevent the sides coming crushing down on the worker.

When this project rises on the priority list, I will probably rent a backhoe or hire an excavator to finish the job.