An Architect’s House – The Flood

June 28, 2010 — 4 Comments

So I wasn’t planning on writing another post on my house for a while but we had a bit of excitement on Saturday night. Around 11:15pm we get a loud knock on the door – and since we aren’t in the habit of receiving late night visitors, I was slightly concerned.  As it turns out, it was some kindly folks who had stopped by to let me know that my yard was erupting and that I was flooding the neighborhood. It wasn’t of biblical proportions but when you see enough water coming out over every crack and crevice of your pavement, it gets your attention.

That is a lot of water

Well shit dang.  There is no circumstance where water shooting from the ground in hundreds of mini volcanoes is a good thing. While I will concede that for a few moments I was excited that I wouldn’t have to water my lawn for a few days, the reality of the situation settled in and the more obvious issues were:

  • where was the water coming from? and
  • was it my fault? (I had asked God to smite someone earlier for driving like an idiot, an obvious waste of his time and resources – maybe this was a reminder that he who doth asketh foreth the smite, dothest receiveth the smite)

Water sheet flowing out of my driveway

First thing I did was go to my water meter to see if it was actually my leak. Once the initial shock went away, I wasn’t overly concerned because I know that my domestic water lines run down the alley and this was way too much water to be a sprinkler line issue. This is also one of those times when I know my wife is glad that I know stuff and that I’m not just eye candy. My meter wasn’t moving so I knew this was a city problem, and that a water line feeding the network of fire hydrants was the most likely culprit.

One of 50 mini eruptions

The city had work vehicles on site in about 10 minutes – which is remarkably fast. I think the workers were a little amused by me running around taking pictures once they figured out they weren’t for insurance purposes and I wasn’t out for blood. They were nice guys who were more concerned about making sure I felt taken care of than looking like they were trying to do something. I knew that actually turning the water off would take a little time so I wasn’t busting their chops about the rate at which my yard was being washed away. Luckily I live in a place where I know they will take care of things properly. I had been in bed (but not asleep) by the time they got the water turned off, sometime before 2:00am.

cleaning up the mud and washout

When I got up at 6:15, they had started the process of cleaning up all the washed out dirt. The sounds of shovels scraping pavement, while not pleasant, was welcome enough – at least I knew they were seeing things through before they passed the scope of replacing the 12″ water line to the full time day crews that will start what I am told will be a very big project. Depending on the scope, I might try and implement some of the driveway considerations I am trying to work through (you can see the drawings here). Not sure yet how much curb they will be pulling out (might not be any) but I can hope!

If I could turn this into a teaching opportunity it would be this:

  • Locate your water meter
  • Make sure you have a key to remove the lid (these can be purchased at most major home improvement stores)
  • Learn how to shut the water off to your property.

Turns out I didn’t need to make use of any of the things I know but just knowing how to check the meter and shut the water off made the situation a lot less frantic. Since they were able to isolate the line and shut that portion down, nobody lost access to their domestic water. If you every do learn that you are about to lose water for a while, make sure you fill up a tub so you have the ability to put water in the tank of your toilet so that you can flush it after using it.



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  • tdatx

    “This is also one of those times when I know my wife is glad that I know stuff and that I’m not just eye candy.” – Brilliant!

  • bobborson

    No water gardens in the future and sadly, I won't be able to squeeze a master bathroom renovation out of this. The best I can hope for is new sidewalks (wonder if they would let me acid wash them?….)

  • Jlh

    Pretty impressive lil break! Is your wife planning for water gardens?

  • Keith Palma

    I'm not buying it……I think it's all a ploy to re-do your bathroom!