Basement floor drains again

I’m slowly learning more about our basement floor drains. I bought a small pump (a Little Giant PP-1) that sucks and discharges through a garden hose, and it does a wonderful job of pumping the drains out. A short length of hose easily fits down the drain, and I run the discharge into the office sump pump. The drain system holds quite a bit of water — as a point of reference, if the standing water is about 4″ below the top of the drains (a typical situation a couple days after rainfall) it takes roughly 20-25 minutes for the PP-1 to pump them out. This is slightly longer than the PP-1’s 15-minute duty cycle, so I have to do it in two “shifts”.

With most of the water out of the drains, I’m more able to inspect the drains and see how water flows through them. In the back part of the basement, It appears that the 4″ vertical drain pipe goes directly down to a cast iron “T”. If I run a tape measure down the drain, I’m able to get it to go in either direction a good ways. This seems to indicate that the lateral line is directly underneath the drain, and it’s 4″ cast iron. If that’s indeed the case, then that is good news, because it will be easy to get a sewer auger into the line.

What’s still not clear, is where the drain lets out, and why it collects so much water. The line is a good 7 feet below grade. As to the water, my theory is that the people who did the waterproofing in the well room area tied these drains in with that system, and the water from that drain tile is draining through the floor drain pipes. Since the floor drain pipes are plugged up, the water collects until it overflows into the well room sump pump. It’s really the only theory that would account for the volume of water that collects in the drains (the water problems in the well room area are another, totally separate issue…)

Next steps: I’d like to prove the theory that the lateral line is directly under the drains. I think I can do this by running a snake down one drain and seeing if I can spot it in a different drain. Then, I want to empty the drains and observe what happens during a rain storm. That will (hopefully) confirm that the water is coming from the well room and not the other direction. And then finally, I can look into snaking the line, doing a video inspection, etc.

End-of-season outdoor work drones on

I’m still having no end of fun working on the usual mid-November chores of leaf removal, and winterization of the pool and lawn equipment. Saturday, I finished up with the pool, following my own instructions, and it went smoothly. I did forget to backwash the filter before shutting it down, but it wasn’t too dirty to begin with, so I don’t think it’ll be a huge problem. The bad news is, my air compressor decided to go on the fritz — appears to be a problem with the pressure switch. So, add one more thing to the list of stuff to fix..

For leaf removal, I’m essentially doing the same thing as last year, although I hope to finish up before Christmas Eve this time around 🙂 I’ve got the basic drill down:

  1. Rake all the grassy areas into 5 or 6 giant piles.
  2. Get up on stepladder, remove leaves from roof valleys and gutters.
  3. Use gas blower to blow leaves in paved areas (deck, pool, driveway) into 2 or 3 giant piles.
  4. Use gas vac/mulcher to suck leaves out of corners and other hard-to-reach areas.
  5. Starting with the area outside the master bedroom and working towards the side street/mulch pile, mulch up all the leaves with the chipper shredder.
  6. Every Sunday or Monday, stuff as many non-mulched leaves into trash cans as possible and put out for yard waste pickup. This reduces the amount of leaves that need to be mulched. Mulching is cool and all, but it’s laborious and time-consuming.

The main problem with this method is that the chipper/shredder bag doesn’t hold a whole lot of leaves. To reduce trips to the mulch pile, I like to use trash cans and a wheelbarrow as temporary containment devices for the shredded leaves (one trash can will hold two bags full of mulched leaves, providing they are packed down). However, it’s still a big pain to be constantly removing the bag, emptying it, reattaching it, etc. over and over again. It’s kind of hard on my back, too. I’ll be really happy if I can eventually figure out a way to cut the bag out of the equation.

Gone Fishing

We moved the upstairs computer today, into our library/study. So, I figured I’d fish some Cat 5 and install an ethernet jack there. Nothing I haven’t done before… should take, oh, an hour or so, right? Well, not this time, it turns out..

The difference between this time and all the other times I’ve fished wire, is that this time I’m fishing the wire in an outside wall. And I learned today that my outside walls apparently have lots of horizontal fire blocking in them. After awhile of fooling around in the attic with a 4′ flex drill bit (the longest one I have), I came to the conclusion that I either need a longer flex bit, or a new strategy. So, I’m going to try fishing down to the basement instead. The hitch with this is, there’s a floor joist blocking most of my access to the area where the wire would come through. However, I think there’s enough space there to get the job done.

Why don’t I just use wireless, you ask? Well, that would be too easy, wouldn’t it?

Followup 11/11… OK. I can say that absolutely without question, that was the hardest I’ve ever worked to fish a wire through a wall.

After a few attempts, it became clear that wiring through the basement wasn’t going to happen. It basically boiled down to: no drilling access from below, and no way to drill a straight hole downwards through the hole in the wall. I would have had to spend more money on specialized tools, or make more holes in the wall to facilitate drilling. That made it a non-starter.

So, I went back to my original plan to fish through the attic. To get to the wall opening, I needed to drill down around 5 feet, through a top plate and two pieces of 2×4 fireblocking (the beveled ceiling in the room actually helped me out — otherwise the distance would have been greater than 5 feet). My 4 foot flex bit was not long enough. So, I lengthened it using a 12″ bit extender I had lying around. That did the trick. Here was the winning formula:

  1. Drill a 5/8″ hole through the top plate. The flex bit is only 3/8″, but the initial hole needed to be 5/8″ to accommodate the bit extender.
  2. Attach extender to flex bit, and drill through fire blocking until the drill bottoms out on the top plate.
  3. Go downstairs, locate bit in wall opening, and attach pull wire through hole in bit.
  4. Smear wire pulling lubricant on the bit and the pull wire.
  5. Go back into attic, and carefully back the bit out of the hole.
  6. Detach pull wire from bit. Attach Cat-5 wire to pull wire with electrical tape. Apply wire pulling lubricant.
  7. Go downstairs and pull wire down through wall opening.

That’s it. Seems simple, but it took several failed attempts, many swear words, and a couple of skinned fingers to get it done. Bottom line, I won’t be fishing wire through outside walls any more unless I absolutely have to…