Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The battle against nature continues

We've been a little waterlogged Chez Martineau with the summer storms of the past couple of weeks. When we bought the house we knew that we could get a fair amount of water in the front room of the basement, but it appeared that the water came from under the stairs and so one day might be fixable. Perhaps that day has come.

With repeated storms last week (we got 4" in one hour one day) we took on some significant water in the front room of the basement (a couple inches, but not enough to make it into any of the other rooms). Normally, this would be a minor inconvenience, however, as we stashed most of the contents of the basement of our old house in the first room while making plans to organize the back two, there's a little more at stake. At one point (well, at several points) Eric was outside in the midst of a rainstorm re-grading dirt and push-brooming the lake of water down the hill from between our house and the neighbor's (who we will patently blame for the water in our basement as their gutters are so clogged and dirty that brand new plants are growing up there and they overflow and land between our houses). Meanwhile, I was shop-vac-ing water out of the front room when I realized there appeared to be water in the heretofore DRY second room. I flipped on the light in there to witness a small stream coming in below the new glassblock window. I alerted Eric who immediately tackled that fountain from the outside and stopped the flow. It would probably help if we had actual grass in our backyard instead of the mud patch that just creates a pond out of our entire backyard.

Then we had guests staying over this past Friday when another storm broke out at 4AM. I awoke at 6AM on Saturday morning wondering where my husband was. He was in the basement shop-vac-ing water (sorry Tim & Carol!) and using hydraulic cement to attack a new (3rd) leak that sprung around our water connection in the second room in the basement. So finally, fed up with the repeated deluge, on Sunday Eric removed the stairs to the basement (actually just took them up) and used the Dry-Lok cement to fill in a number of holes under the steps. We've not had any serious rains since, but we're hopeful that we've finally addressed the main problem!

(Eric Here): Quite discouraging, really. For long-time readers, you may recall a half-dozen previous posts where I discussed my attempts to control the water in the basement. New gutters, a french drain, re-grade, gutter extensions, a drainpipe to direct 100% of the east side roof water down the front hill... I'm probably forgetting a few. And each time, a mother-of-a storm rolls through and our basement gets an inch or so of water.

On the positive side, it does happen much less frequently (or so it seems, as the frequency depends upon the weather). And the 4'' rainfall was truly a record-setter which had some streets in Columbus under 3 feet of water, so I shouldn't be surprised that the improvements I had made couldn't cope with such a massive rain.

So as Mary said, I tore up the stairs to the basement to access the wall where the water was coming in. The good news is I found a number of cracks where the water seemed to be entering. My hope is that by filling the cracks with hydraulic cement, the water will no longer be able to enter at all. Of course, water has to go somewhere... it is my hope it finds its way into the french drain rather than finding some new hole.

Time will tell...

Friday, June 6, 2008

An old friend returns

Remember our great adventures with raccoons from last year? Well, we deported a number of them. And it seems at least one decided to return for a visit. Or maybe, as it looks pretty young, it is a teenager who just wanted to see where his mom or dad grew-up. I (Mary) let Bogart out to do his business this morning. I sat on the porch and watched him for a minute then went in to pour his breakfast...when all of a sudden a RUCKUS broke out in the backyard and Bogart was barking hysterically (really, he was using his "big dog" bark). I run out and see a raccoon cowering behind our flower planter. I corral Bogart back into the house and don several pairs of leather gloves and think "he's itty bitty, I'll just put him in a tree." So I pet him on the back and he hisses at me nastily. I think better of attempting to manually relocate him and figure he'll move along once he's calmed down from the canine hysteria. After half an hour I have to be getting off to work and warn Eric about our visitor lest he accidentally let the dog out for round 2. An hour later and Eric finds we have a new resident in the backyard. Somehow he thought this was the best place to bunk down for the day, right off of our back porch in the fenced yard where we run our dogs.

Below, I've (Eric now) delivered a wake-up call and explained our "early checkout" policy:

With the aid of my trusty hockey stick, I manage to get him to leave the fenced yard. At which point he decides to find new accomodations:

Yes, that is the rim of our van tire. Well, with gas prices being what they are, I'll be taking the vespa today anyway, so I guess he's safe for now.