Give ne back my hat!

Fun with home drainage projects

So it rains a lot in the Pacific Northwest.  A lot of the earth is clay here which soaks water up like a sponge.

My house has a sump pump in the crawl space.  If it rains, the crawl space gets flooded and the sump pump goes to work.  It takes it something like an entire day to catch up.  Not a good sign.

The crawl space is also so narrow that it'd be really fucking hard to install either bigger pump or a bigger sump pit. There are no obvious signs of rain falling straight into the crawl space.

My house is on the face of a hill.

I'm guessing what happens is the clay that the house sits on slowly sponges up rain water during a storm, and when it reaches full saturation that eliminates all of the water friction, so water freely floods down the hill and pops up into my crawl space.

To mitigate, I dug a new sump pit and installed a sump pump on the uphill side of the house and connected one of the downspouts from the gutter to it.  It fires all of the water out to the street, 50' away.  That's phase one of the project.  Already done.

Phase two of the project is to dig up the concrete walkway on that side and lay a french drain down between my house and the uphill, and have the french drain terminate at that sump pit also.  Effectively I'd be setting up a barrier against downhill flow of water.  While I'm there I'll also connect the downspout on the opposite corner of the house to that sump pit so that water blows out to the street too.

What's most unsatisfying about this is that it's rather hard to understand how exactly the water flows.  It'd be nice if I could, I don't know, plant stakes on various points on the property that each secrete a different color and then look in my crawl space and see what color the water is.  But that sounds like it would never work 'cause the water gets filtered moving through the clay.

Anyone know more about this?

Ho hum.  The risk is low at least.  I'm only out about $400 doing this so far, and getting a lot of free exercise with the sledge hammer.
Permalink Wabi-sabi 
December 3rd, 2017 3:54pm
Plumbers use fluorescene dye, a tiny amount will colour a huge amount of water. Only one colour though - yellow/green.
Permalink Zaq 
December 3rd, 2017 4:34pm
Ground water fucking sucks balls.

One correction, clay doesn't soak up water. It's fairly impermeable. In fact one of the commercially accepted "remedies" in quotes for basement wall water infiltration is to inject a suspension of bentonite clay (aka kitty litter raw material) from the outside against the basement walls in order to seal them.

This guy has a ton of useful videos on outdoors drain construction. There might be something useful here. I watched quite a few of his videos to get an idea how to approach one problem we have with water.

https://www.youtube.com/user/appledrains
Permalink Bored Bystander 
December 3rd, 2017 4:37pm
Man, the clay I dug up to install that new sump pit felt pretty wet, squishy and waterlogged to me.
Permalink Wabi-sabi 
December 3rd, 2017 4:38pm
But still, clay soil is no picnic. Its behavior is more to allow surface water to shoot straight down through cracks and voids into basements and crawl spaces.
Permalink Bored Bystander 
December 3rd, 2017 4:38pm
Well, about the squishiness, clay saturates quickly, so yeah, it seems to drink up water. But it releases it very quickly underground.

In gardening the hardest fucking soil is clay. Clay is not well behaved "dirt".
Permalink Bored Bystander 
December 3rd, 2017 4:40pm
+1 the Apple drains guy.  Watched a bunch of his videos before starting.
Permalink Wabi-sabi 
December 3rd, 2017 4:42pm
> Well, about the squishiness, clay saturates quickly, so yeah, it seems to drink up water. But it releases it very quickly underground.

That may explain why, as soon as a tipping point of wetness is reached, water immediately pops up into my crawl space.
Permalink Wabi-sabi 
December 3rd, 2017 4:44pm
phase one is dependent on electrical power, hm.. just get it away from the house using gravity with a long spout plastic thing.  not into a hole.  been there done that,  was more like a pond though. 

dig trenches across the front of your house and install slot pipes (wrap in fabric stuff first).  the slot pipes then turn into regular plastic pipes off to the side of the house and then drain down the hill on either side.

More later...  my house drainage is so effed up from badly planned addition and the landfill neighborhood is sinking in general and poorly planned grading to begin with.  All needs to be redone before any skin on the house replaced,  addition and large cement slab needs dug up and removed (was a endless pool-like thing,  uh geez)
Permalink bad idea 
December 3rd, 2017 4:51pm
>  phase one is dependent on electrical power, hm.. just get it away from the house using gravity with a long spout plastic thing.  not into a hole.  been there done that,  was more like a pond though. 

That would be my preference except...

Previous owner already tried that.  He didn't seem to let the fact that the street with the storm gutter was higher elevation than the house dissauade him from trying to use gravity.

Or maybe the house settled.

Anyway I put a pump on one end and now it drains uphill towards the street much better.
Permalink Wabi-sabi 
December 3rd, 2017 4:56pm
> Ground water fucking sucks balls.

Lol I knew this would be a Bored Bystander post after reading the first sentence
Permalink Tom 
December 3rd, 2017 5:10pm
:)
Permalink Bored Bystander 
December 3rd, 2017 5:51pm
Sounds fun - NOT.

But if I was retired, it might not be a bad way to spend the time. Knowing how to do this kind of stuff around the house could save a lot of money.
Permalink NPR 
December 3rd, 2017 6:57pm
Opportunity to learn something new, get fresh air, hard exercise, know that you're saving a boatload of cash (paying yourself, effectively), gain confidence to tackle even bigger jobs when it's over, know that you're hardening your property against weather attacks and get to admire a job well done afterwards.

What would you be spending that time on instead that has that many benefits?
Permalink Wabi-sabi 
December 3rd, 2017 8:39pm
That's cool, man. The sense of accomplishment would be something you get out of this, too.

You have the luxury of time. I wouldn't be able to tackle that kind of thing now.
Permalink NPR 
December 4th, 2017 8:52am

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