Tuesday, 9 July 2013

The Waterfall's Revenge

The Wall Was Drying Out
It must have been the back end of May when I reported that the cellar had a brand new water feature, a waterfall. Despite the fact that we both like waterfalls, indoors is not really the place for them. It was mainly caused by the sheer volume of rain that we had then, and the gutters not being able to cope. Using timber to try and improve the run of the guttering I had thought that the problem was largely solved. The wall was drying out quite nicely too.

As some of you will have noticed, and others may have read, we have recently been experiencing a little bit of rain. OK, it has been rain of Biblical proportions and possibly worthy of an Ark being built. It has been coming down like stair rods. With it there have been a few problems. Our pool is now so full that even an insect landing on the surface of the water is enough to cause it to overflow. We have had a small leak through the ceiling of the kitchen, a slightly bigger leak in the hallway caused by an overflowing gutter, and joy of joys that bloody waterfall came back into the cellar.

Not A Water Feature That We Would Recommend
Now not only does it look like a schoolboy has been seeing how high he can pee up the wall, but he has brought all of his classmates with him. It has been an on off battle trying to get this sorted out. I found an initial problem not long after we moved here, the waste pipe going out to the septic tank had been positioned so that it was trying to flow up hill. So I dug that up, lagged it and repositioned it. That seemed to cure the problem partially. We also had an apple tree round the back, and leaves, apples and twigs had filled the gutter causing it to overflow. Clearing the gutter on a more regular basis also helped, and then we noticed the tree was partially rotten, so it had to come down. One thing that I hadn't realised was that this apple tree was also taking care of fluid levels with our septic tank. I did a bit of research and it seems as though cherry trees are quite thirsty, but they don't have invasive roots. So we have planted three around the tank area, but they will take a while until they are as effective as the apple tree.

At least our problems are slight compared to some others. Some have their cellars flood as the water table rises, others have their own spring or river running through at certain times of the year. All problems can be overcome, supposedly. Most of ours has involved polythene sheeting. If you have ever seen inside a Bulgarian attic, you may wonder where the sarking felt is. They never used to use it, and none of the old roofing timbers are straight. Our roof timbers are all sound at the moment, so what we have done is tent the inside of the attic with polythene sheeting. The tails of the polythene go out over the eaves, so if any rain does get in under the tiles it can run straight back out again. The only problem with this is that strong wind can also get up under the eaves and pull some of the polythene sheeting down. Which is what happened to cause the leak in the kitchen area. The hallway problem has hopefully been rectified by changing the pitch on that run of guttering.

What Every House Needs, Running Water
So that brings us back to our cellar waterfall. We had tried putting in a path round the back of the house to shed water away from the wall. For a while it was successful, but let's face it the cement here is crap. It just doesn't seem to cope with the extremes of temperature. Also a word of warning, don't let the  local gypsies knock up your concrete mix, it is not very well mixed at all, so that will not help. So yesterday afternoon we had a slight seepage down the wall. Nothing that a mop couldn't sort out. The next rain we had caused the waterfall to get bigger. So I was outside round the back of the house playing in the rain and trying to divert the cascade from the guttering. Needless to say I got soaked. It probably didn't help with me striking a pose with every flash of lightning, just in case someone was doing a photo diary. As Sod's law dictates the rain eased up as soon as I got back indoors. I quickly stripped off and put all of my wet clothes in the washing machine, hoping that the rain had finished. No such luck, but Net went out playing in the rain the next time, as I was in my bath robe by then. Net managed to get soaked too, but the rain clouds seemed to be moving away.

The rain and thunderstorm started back about 11 last night, at that time the waterfall was not in evidence. I have got back into the habit of reading for a while before I go to sleep, and last night was no exception. Just after midnight I went back down to the cellar to check. Brilliant water all over the floor, and running down the wall. So there I was mopping the floor until gone 1 this morning. Net only woke up when I got back into bed, but at least the rain seemed to be easing. Just as I was nodding off the storm returned, so I get back up and check the cellar, everything looked OK. As we were both awake Net went and put the kettle on. With coffees made and the cellar looking ok I thought that I would give it half an hour and then recheck. You've guessed it the waterfall was back. So once again I am round the back of the house, wearing a bath robe, a pair of crocks and a head torch. I was getting a good soaking from the cascade, as I was prodding at the gutter with my length of timber, it was like something from a low budget remake of The Last Of The Bengal Lancers. Hopefully none of the neighbours were taking notes, none of the dogs fancied coming out and lending a paw. Once I was thoroughly soaked I managed to stop the water flowing down the cellar wall. We were cleaning down in the cellar until gone 3, and Net did a further check half an hour later.

Trench Warfare
This morning has seen us digging a trench and lining it with polythene sheeting. It might look a bit naff, but at the moment it is only temporary. We need to find out if we have dug the trench in the right place, or if we have to shift it left or right to catch the full cascade from the gutter. It does seem to run down towards the boundary wall ok, but I have found one place where I got carried away doing my Navvy impression, as it seems to be deeper there. So that will require building back up. Now we are waiting for the return of the storm, just to make sure that everything is doing what it is meant to be doing. One slight problem, there is never a torrential downpour when you want one. On the bright side, at least I have stopped sweating like the last chicken in Colonel Sanders' back garden. I can also feel the need for another coffee. There is no point getting upset by things such as these, as I have previously said others do have it much worse. It is frustrating without a doubt, but you just have to crack on and make the best of things. A full night's sleep would be quite nice though.  

The Navvys Have Been



  1. That must’ve been a terrible day for you! Anyway, has the gutters been fixed? Moping out the flood and the soaked part of the house can be really stressful, especially if you have to do it every rainy season. You might want to consider getting a gutter guard installed, so that you can prevent the gutter from overflowing due to the falling leaves and twigs from the apple tree.

    Tami Garcia @ Affordable Seemless Gutters

  2. Oh my! Leaks from gutters can really be infuriating. It's a problem that always needs immediate action. Anyway, have you also checked the roofs if there are any issues, so that you can fix all of them in just one move. In any way, thanks for sharing that, Kris! I hope that everything has been dealt with already. All the best!

    Florencio Emanuel @ Kerrisdale Roofing And Drains