austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

I'm fixing a hole where the rain gets in

So we had this little problem where the house's foundation was crumbling. That's an overstatement. One of the many cinder blocks in the house had gotten so moist and soft that it turned into this putty-like goo. It was right under the faucet for the washing machine. Since that leaked steadily whenever the hot water was turned on, we turned the hot water off except as specifically needed. And that slowed the degradation but didn't stop it altogether. After we got the water faucet replaced --- something theoretically within our powers, if the old faucet hadn't become a faucet-shaped clod of rust --- we owned up to how we were never going to patch the half-melted cinder block and hired someone to fix it. (My father said just mix up some concrete and putty it in, which seemed impossible. Turns out that's just how to do it, but we got it done by someone confident that was what to do.)

Fixing it wouldn't be hard, but it wouldn't get at the real issue. The foundations people pointed out how our cinder blocks were soaked. This is because we live in Michigan, and the soil is very wet, and that goes right into the blocks. That our house had stood for 88 years with only the one cinder block destroyed and a few others being worn away suggests it was built very well, but that's not something which could last forever. So we got talking about installing a drainage system.

What we planned was to get holes drilled into the cinder blocks at their bases, so that the incredible amount of water around the house would have somewhere to go. That somewhere would be into a sub-basement-floor channel that would lead into a sump pump installed for this purpose. We could even get the water channeled over to the shrubs that mark our property line out back, relieving the (slight) need to water them. The plan sounded sane to us and we made the deal.

I then spent several weeks hauling stuff out of the basement. Most of it was my stuff, put down there because I had a household's worth of belongings and only some of them have really found places in the main house and because organizing them would be something like work. That got the basement nearly cleared out, at the cost of filling up the guest room. And what remained could be moved into the center of the basement, leaving plenty of room to work.

Which was fine, as the sub-floor channel idea turned out to be impossible.

Trivia: The Minitrack satellite sensor array designed for Vanguard was able to detect Sputnik by the 11th of October, 1957, even though the tracking array was designed for the (International Geophysical Year-approved) 108 MHz radio frequency and Sputnik transmitted on 20 and 40 MHz. Source: Project Vanguard: The NASA History, Constance McLaughlin Green, Milton Lomask.

Currently Reading: Nessie: Exploring The Supernatural Origins of the Loch Ness Monster, Nick Redfern.

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