This Space for Rent

The joy of living in an old house

Is multiplied tenfold when you go down into the basement and see that, without any provocation via someone emptying the bathtub or flushing the toilet 30 times in quick succession, or running a super-heavy wash, that there's an inch of disgusting water covering about a quarter of the basement floor. Part of that quarter of the basement floor was part of the 1000 or so square feet of the house we don't actually use for anything except for junk storage, but the rest of it included my tile stockpile, so now I've got to disinfect a few dozen tiles and restack several hundred others that had the boxes they were sitting in disintegrate out from under them.

I like to pretend that I'm handy, but the huge pile of things that are going wrong with our house drive me to the point of despair, particularly when repairing some of them involve temporarily relocating several tons of hardwoods , tile, pretty colored glass, and computers.


Several questions. 1. Cast iron drains? 2. Easy to get at in the house? 3. Easy to get at in the basement/yard?

From your discriptions, it’s sounds to me (from 800 miles away, of course), like it might be time to strip all that out and replace it with modern drain pipe.

Cast iron is tough to repair reliably and old cast iron will be very thin in spots as the rust eats it away.

I am reminded (fondly) of your apartment in Pasadena. You were much less “handy” in the first few weeks back then.


Lynn Wed Jan 11 20:45:55 2006

  1. Yes
  2. No
  3. No

There’s a broken drain in the backyard (when they built the house in 1909ish, they put in a combined drain to drain the house, the garage, and the gutters; sometime in the 96 years since then one of the big old cherry trees in the backyard managed to crush it. That gutter is somewhere underground, so unless I want to dig some very deep trenches to find it the only way to make it stop is to jackhammer out the basement and replumb the sewer from the house to the street.

And I don’t kid when I talk about how the house has sunk so it’s sitting at the bottom of a shallow crater. When it rains, the front lawn turns into a large shallow lake (the back yard would as well, except that all that water drains into the sewer line…) which eventually drains through the front wall of our basement.

With US$150,000 dollars, it would be pretty trivial to fix; jack up the house, then replace the basement with a new one that’s got better drainage. As it sits, I can probably reduce some of the flooding by digging a 3 foot trench around the house and putting in a drainage tile that dumps the water into a cistern or the gutter. That will only cost about US$5000 plus untold hours of stoop labour, plus one or two visits from the city inspectors.

David Parsons Wed Jan 11 22:01:24 2006

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