The Big Dig - Part Deux

It's Day II of the Big Dig, our $6,000 hole in the ground. It is now nine feet deep and six feet long, requiring a special brace to shore up the sides. Dirt is being removed by bucket since it is too deep to toss the dirt out by shovel. It looks like a wild party hosted by Puxsatawny Phil.

The archaeolopluminologists have reached the original break and are fixing it, dispite the fact that we've accidentally flooded their hole twice with fresh, fragrant gifts. I have to say they seem a remarkably patient bunch for being inundated with raw sewage every few hours.

They may have repaired the major break, but like usual in our well-oiled household, there are addition issues. They've detected another pipe, another 15 feet (that's not a typo either) down, that shows slight signs of damage from roots.

Our options?

Stop where we are and fix the original pipe, clean out the remaining roots (which are the size of the Gropenfurher's forearms), apply a foaming anti-root agent twice per year, and plan to have the Roto-Rooter guys come back at least once per year to ream it out again. Then, hope for the best.


Dig the extra 15 feet and replace the other sections. This would require three additional workmen, several extra days of digging, and more special equipment to shore up the hole. Dirt would be hauled out by bucket and ladders. It would be the rough equivalent of digging a basement for the Giza Pyramid. When finished, there would be no guarantee that additional damage wouldn't occur.

We opted for the former rather than the latter. I don't think I'd like the sight of cotton loincloth-swathed workers Walking like Egyptians in the backyard. Too much whip cracking and crying out for me.

We also learned some interesting things in this process:

  • We live directly above the intersection of three different sanitation districts. Our sewage leaves the house in one, flows several feet through another, and finally ends up at a main in the third district before its long journey into The Bay. Apparently, any major repairs would require the consensus of all three districts and the President of the UN Security Council. I'm thinking of volunteering it to Kim Jong Il for nuclear target practice. It would be easier to negotiate the treaty.
  • The tree that caused the damage - about 15 yards away - now appears not to be a single, stand-alone aspen as we though, but actually a wild root extension from a tree a several doors down. It appears to have sprouted into an independent trunk more than 30 feet high. That explains how the damn thing grew from nothing to its present size in less than eight years. I predict an expensive discussion with an arborist in my future and a big supply of firewood for my gas fireplace.
  • We used to have an irrigation system in our backyard. They found remnants as they dug the new bore. No explanation for why it was disconnected, although I think it was done when a hot tub was installed - a project that had required the addition of another circuit breaker panel and new wiring when the new furnace was installed a few years back. Damnable do-it-yourselfers! These things never happen to Ty Pennington.
  • When we moved into the house, city maps showed a street where our house now stands at the end of a cul-de-sac. Apparently, it was no phantom street. The fightin' sandhogs found large pieces of asphalt about five feet down. They removed it with picks shovels and strong backs. It looked like a crew of boys from San Q minus the leg irons.
  • They also found evidence that the sewage lines from our house were relocated at some point in the past and that two neighbors' lines now connect to ours before going to the main. There is also a third disconnected line that goes to oblivion, a Rod Serling plumbing moment to be sure.
  • And finally, a possible explanation for why our driveway has settled. A concrete storm drain runs directly beneath it and the hydrologist guesses it may be leaking and undermining the driveway. I'm guessing that since it runs through two of our three sanitation districts and the mad Russians next door partially filled the other end with concrete and built a deck on top of it we may have another diplomatic challenge on our hands some day. I wonder if Colin Powell still needs a gig.

It's madness I tell you! Madness!

But as usual, the good times never stop at Casa de Poobah. While discussing the project with the hydrologist, the dog escaped. We've just returned from a half-hour dog hunt spanning the entire neighborhood and various county agencies. She finally showed up just before the mobile command post and police helicopter were called in. Mrs. and Daughter Poobah were pretty distraught until the prodigal canine returned. They are currently nursing their battered emotions as I write mine out.

So you see? It could be worse, you could be me.

Ahhh. Life! You gotta love it!

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Tuesday, August 16, 2005

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