One of the benefits of living in Cleveland is easy access to Lake Erie; a truly impressive body of water. See?
Gotcha! That's not Lake Erie, of course... that's my fucking backyard. This flooding business is really, really getting old. Up until now it's just something that we've lived it. It was inconvenient, yes, but didn't ruin our lives or anything. That is, until it came to a head a couple of months ago:
I've already chronicled the flooding night; and it's happened once more since then. Needless to say, it's been top of mind for The Scientist and I. We've been collecting opinions, estimates and looks of sympathy. Last week, we had another plumber out with a fiber optic camera to run down our footer drains.
Now, in case you were like me two months ago and had no idea what a footer drain was or does, here's a crash course on how it works (at least, at my house): the footer is a perferated pipe that rings the house. Any ground water that seeps in from the surface is supposed to run down the outside of the foundation and into this pipe, which ties into the main drain water line (that is, the big one maintained by the city). There's a second system that the gutters drain into, which also ties into the main drain water line. Our gutters work, our footers do not.
So, when it rains all the water that hits the house is dutifully wisked away with nary a care. But, the water that hits the ground pools up (due to the pitiful drainage of our yard) and soaks into the earth. This is made about a BILLION times worse due to the fact that our yard is the lowest part of the three properties that surround us... so everyone's water drains into our yard. This water makes it down to the footers, and that's where everything goes wrong. Since they aren't draining like they should (or, at all) the water goes the only place it can -- into our basement.
I don't know if we just got lucky the first year and a half or if something has finally shit the bed for good in our drainage system, but this water intrusion is all new. When the plumber told us he couldn't get the scope into the footers because they were clogged or broken or both, that was just the beginning of the bad news.
Replacing the footers would involve digging to the bottom of the foundation around the entire house and replacing all the pipe, backfilling with gravel and packing all the dirt back. This would be stupidly expensive, in the neighborhood of tens of thousands of dollars. Hearing this, The Scientist and I both started to crap... until the plumber told us or another solution.
The sump pump.
Basically, they dig a trench around the inside of the wall, lay pipe, cover it with gravel and re-cement it so you can't tell it's there. All that pipe runs to a sump pump hidden in a shallow shaft in the corner. This pump can move 90 gallons of water a minute, so it's a pretty beefy system.
But, all that digging and fuss isn't cheap. It's not tens of thousands, but it's enough that we have to serious consider a second mortgage. Or, we hope that the new drainage work in the back yard solves the problem.
Did I mention recently that we've only been in this goddamn house for two years?
Anyway, we continue to weigh the options. But one thing is for sure: running downstairs every hour during a rainstorm to see if the floor is covered with flowing water has lost its charm. We're going to do something, and soon.
Stay tuned, and stay dry.