Thursday, March 22, 2012

Our Turn

The water & sewer replacement project that's been occupying our street since November finally reached us on Tuesday.  It was our turn to have our sewer drain connection to the city main replaced.

Of course, things did not go according to plan.

Here is our parking pad before.

Right door is us

When we bought our house, our parking pad was atrocious.  It had red brick (not meant to be used as interlocking), bumps all over and a staircase that was close to falling apart.  We went in together with our neighbor and had both sides redone as one, including a staircase that served both entrances. 

View from sidewalk on neighbor's side

It was such a great investment.

Until Tuesday.

View from our porch

With the tree being in the way, they had to attack it from the side where the external water connections were.  That was my neighbor's side.

The plan was to dig a narrow trench to the side, not touch the water connection (ours was replaced with copper a few years before we bought the house) and replace our shared sewer drain...all without damaging the tree.  Until they couldn't find the sewer drain.

Where are you?
So....they dug a little more to the right (neighbor's side) and they dug a little more to the left (our side).  Until - bingo - they found it under our side directly beneath the bottom step of our staircase.  Gulp.

The guy in orange (above) cracked open the old clay sewer pipe and and readied the old connection for a new one.  Then suddenly...

See the splash above the claw?

It all went wrong.


Just before I snapped this picture, the geyser shot up above our tree.  Immediately, the backhoe operator yelled "Shut it down!"  The crew sprinted away up and down our street.

Filling up

At this point, I was starting to get a little worried.  The sewer drain to our house was just cracked open.  Where will this water go and why isn't it stopping???

Everyone important is watching

The audience (me, Jake, Henry, George, neighbor) watching the action figured something was really really wrong when the guys in the white hard hats (city inspectors) came sniffing around.  On their phones.

The hose in the picture above is attached to a sucking mechanism that they dropped in the water.  It was working fast, but the water coming in was faster.

I sent Jake & Henry down to the basement every 2 minutes to check for water.  I was freaking out. 

Finally, the geyser stopped gushing.  Our basement was dry.

Keep working

The water level finally got down far enough for the supervisor to reconnect our water line to the main.  It was sheered off at the box connection, so they had a crazy hard time reconnecting it. 

After the water was reconnected, they got to work on the sewer connection to the house. 


The whole time, I kept thinking, I would sooooooo not go down there.  13 feet deep.  Possible caving.  Watery sludge mixed with waste.  Yuck.

New connection

But, they got the new pipe connected and figured a way around the tree. 

New sewer drain

They ended up digging UNDER the water main on the way to the street...even all the way under the sidewalk.  I was impressed by how delicately a backhoe can work. 

That green pipe/white cap cleanout will be a new addition to our parking pad...but I was assured by the supervisor they can cut it down and cap it flush with the pavers when they put everything back together.

Here's hoping.

Back filled

They put all our dirt back in the hole. 


And now our parking pad looks like this. 

With any luck, somehow they will get it back to looking pretty again...someday...


  1. Oh jeeze. What a hassle! I can only imagine your panic when seeing that water rising.

    Will the city replace your brick? A portion of our asphalt driveway and interlock brick pathway were ripped out and then replaced (SHODDILY) by our city when sewer work was done.

  2. Funny enough, one of the construction workers was out front yesterday when I took the last picture. He said he'll probably be the one putting the parking pad back together. Then he said, "Man, I hate interlocking." That was a real vote of confidence...