Did Someone Order Some Rusty Broken Pipes?

When you run the washer, your kitchen sink shouldn’t “burble”.

That was the first sign.

We would run the washer and every so often we would hear things.  We would also find small “spills” next to it.

For a little while we wondered if our dog who was then a puppy, had “discovered” the laundry room.

Can’t blame the dog for this one.  It’s old pipes.

While it was only the one side of the house, we were left scratching our heads. 

It was time for a little education.

In this little house, one side of the property drains one way, the other drains another, and there’s a joint in the middle.

Yeah, I don’t get it either.

But the thing is that pipes will fail.   If you look at the pipes, you can see how they failed.   In our case, I don’t know that anything ever really made it out to the sewer lines.   We were “fertilizing” the sand under the house.  Some of those cracks eventually filled with soil that plugged up the works.

One group of plumbers were called in.  They fixed the minor things like worn out washers and wobbly fixtures.  The bathroom sink was upgraded.  The noises never really left us.

We would soldier on still scratching our heads as the washer’s burbling got louder.

Finally we had someone in to scope the pipes.

Interesting thing was what they found.  After running a camera on a long snake down the pipe, they found the first crack.  Our pipes had failed and cracked.

The plumbers weren’t sure what we had going on or where the camera was looking as the waste water from the house drained out of that crack.

An estimate came back much higher than we would have liked.  That’s the repairman’s shrug.  If you don’t know what is wrong, price it high and the home owner will go get a second estimate that they will probably go with.

We did.

The second guy, Plumber Mike, specializes in this sort of thing.  In fact, they are the ones who the first plumber contracted with for this kind of repair.   The inside jobs were a different group, the original plumbers, and they were fine for that.   No complaints with anyone.

Last week, demolition began after permitting was completed. 

By Demolition, I mean burrowing under the house to expose the pipes.  Each pipe that came through had more cracks in it. 

Since we paid our sewer bills, we really should actually use the sewers instead of inadvertently using the soil under the house as a septic field.


By the time Plumber Mike was through, just about every pipe was cracked, and the width of the house was tracked with new PVC piping.

The tunnel is yet to be completely filled in, and the work has yet to be inspected, but we’re now back to draining into the sewers.

Ahh sewers.  So dirty but so necessary to modern urban life.  Without sewers, plumbers, and other necessities, we would not be able to have cities, and even villages would be difficult.

At least it’s back together now.  No more inadvertent fertilizer for me!  We can flush safely again!

My Very Own Archaeological Dig

I feel like I’m living with Colonel Hogan in Stalag 13.

The old TV Show Hogan’s Heroes.  They had a barracks in a Nazi Prisoner of War Camp where you would smack the side of the top bunk and through the magic of TV and some well hidden strings and weights, the bottom bunk would lift out of place.   That would reveal a ladder down to the warren of tunnels where they had all sorts of things.

We were given the entire series on DVD a while back.  I am still jealous of Sgt Kinch’s radio equipment.  Much better an experimentation desk than I have now.  Then again, do I really need to build that Crystal Radio?

Next to my window in the Kitchen is now a hole.  I keep expecting Corporal Louis LeBeau to come climbing up out of that hole.   It’s large enough for a man to climb out of, which is what is happening at this very moment. 

Sitting here with my right elbow on the wooden arm of my Poang chair, I’m feeling vibrations.  There’s a tapping coming up through the floor. 

Yes, they’re digging, still.

After a day of digging under the house, they have tunneled from the Lanai, under the kitchen, through the dining room, and into the living room.

I’m sitting there. 

They have almost made it to the bathroom,  I have been told.

There are mounds of grey beach sand piled out back.  Even Sgt. Carter had to put the soil somewhere.  Our version of Sgt. Carter has thoughtfully placed all the soil from under the house on tarps. 

South Florida Blue Tarps, at your service!

Should be a great name for a sports team, the South Florida Blue Tarps, you can find them everywhere.  Now in my back yard.  Covered with grey beach sand.

I figure they’re digging deep enough to be able to fit under the house comfortably.  Following the pipes, from back to front, they are looking for broken sewer lines.

They have had a few unexpected finds.

Our house was one of the last of the homes built on this block.  They started on the corner, skipped this lot, and went next door.  Like any open lot, the neighborhood children would come over and play on it.  Parties would be held.  The day to day routine would expand into this lot whenever a little extra shoulder room was needed.

Some of the history showed itself.  While tunneling, they found a can opener.  The old school church key style, it would open a can with a triangular piercing, or a bottle cap from the other end.   Common place items lost in the sand years ago are never really lost.  One day at an long forgotten picnic, someone dropped the church key into the soil and it remained there until last night when it was brought out by a surprised worker.

More thumping through my elbow, there is a small commotion below me.   I hear muffled voices through the slab as there is a decision being made.  We find out later what happened.   There was a long forgotten tree stump on the property.  It was part of a large tree, larger than a man could reach around.  The tree had been felled, cut down instead of being retained as protection against a storm, it was cleared from the land and the stump was burned.  Later a slab was poured over top of it so that this house could be constructed.

Things never really go away, they just hide from view.  This is the same sort of strange discovery that people have done all over the world.  Old settlements that had been there years before show themselves when new construction happens.   Seeing that nobody here ever really builds a basement, the land under a house is effectively sealed for 50 or more years until it is time to come down in a fit of new construction.  If the owner is lucky, they won’t have to find the new pipes.  Since they have a finite lifespan and building anything on sand is liable to shift, eventually those new pipes will crack.

So that’s where you find yourself.  Scratching your head and wondering about the tree that was removed, or what party happened that the bottle opener was lost at. 

These folks are thorough.  Plumber Mike’s guys are creating a tunnel.   They will pack the dirt back under the house on the last day or two, just like it was removed.  It isn’t like having a tunnel under the living room is a useful thing more often than once or twice a century. 

Besides, I’m really not looking forward to having Colonel Hogan come up under the dog house.  After all, I don’t have a German Shepard, he’s a McNab.