Joys Of Home Ownership

Started by LeoinSA, April 11, 2010, 07:12:50 PM

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So... We live in a 43 year old house.

Here in San Antonio a large percentage of homes are built on mud.  Well, not exactly, but built on soil that has a high clay content.  These homes move - a LOT!  Last summer was especially dry here and the soil shrank - so much so that a good friends house had massive cracks above all of the doors and arches from room to room.  Their living room was over 2.5" lower on the far outside corner than the near inside corner.  A golf ball rolled easily - and on an eerie snaky path - to that corner.

We're lucky in that our home is built on bedrock - limestone.  We've got zero cracks in the slab or walls.  The sidewalks and driveway are a different matter as they are built on the hauled in fill that was needed to build a yard that would support grass.

But being 43 years old it also means that - while well built with good materials - that the materials of the day were galvanized water and cast iron waste pipes.  Now both are near failure.  The galvanized is rusty and we're getting colored water from the various taps from time to time.  Repairs are never easy as the fittings are frozen in place.  I bought a SawsAll to replace a leaky shutoff under the kitchen sink simply because I could not get the rusty valve off the pipe stub.

Last Sunday evening I spent an hour cleaning up and roto-rooting overflowing drains.  I did it again this morning but with the added complication that I went to Lowes to buy a 75 foot extension for the auger machine (that I bought in 2003) so I could get the blockage cleared.

It seems that the cast iron drain pipes are rusty and the least bit of lint from the washer starts to collect and soon becomes a clog - somewhere between the house and sewer in the alley.  My 100' of snake did not reach the sewer, but the 175' does.  No fun whatsoever, but at least I did not have to pay weekend rates for a plumber.

Lessons for those that choose to listen and learn.

  • Don't build on high clay content soils.  If you have to, isolate your foundation by using lots and lots of drainage rock.
  • If you have to scrimp on materials, don't do it on plumbing or electrical.  I'll tell the electrical horror stories some other day.

So there you have the latest episode in the on-going sordid tale of the Joys Of Home Ownership.