Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Drainpipe Affair.

It rained solidly through most of last weekend. Saturday, I didn't mind so much because the nonsense with the CD tower had written off that day, but I was looking forward to a sunnier Sunday. T'was not to be.

During one of the infrequent breaks in the torrential rain I went round the back to check on the swimming pool and make sure it wasn't overflowing. This was when I discovered the water pouring down the siding of the house at the southeast corner. So much had washed down the siding that the earthen ramp I had built there for future Hosta installation and to aid drainage away from the house had in fact largely washed away. "This not look good" said Mr Brain for the second time that weekend, and he was definitely on a roll.

Since the rain had stopped I nipped round to the garage and got my light-duty ladder (aluminum, good for conducting any lightning strikes safely1 down to earth) and erected it next to what I assumed was a gutter blocked at the downspout bit with sycamore seed pods. No sooner was I on the ladder than the rain started down in a manner calculated to show everyone a thing or two in the line of deluges and prove that the previous monsoon was merely the opening movement in a piece of Wagnerian proportions.

Undauted, mostly, I continued up the ladder with a lighthearted "Screw this for a game of soldiers" and discovered that the gutter was empty of both water and seed pods, but the drainpipe was brimming full. I probed the end of the pipe but found no blockage. "Curiouser and curiouser" I said and deladdered at speed as the lightning started flashing decoratively around the sky.

Probing at the bottom of the pipe, I discovered a blockage. In order to help stop the basement flooding, I had long-ago equiped all the drainpipes with extending downspouts that telescope out to about three and a half feet from the house itself. They have been a very successful experiment. In order to secure them to the pipes, however, it was necessary to use a pin that goes through the pipe center made from 1/4 inch aluminum bar. In the twelve years or so that these things have been fitted, not one blockage has resulted from the arrangement despite misgivings on my part on that score, but this time the pin had hooked up something that had allowed the pipe to get well and truly clogged. No matter.

I pulled off the capitve end of the pin with Mr Pliers and (eventually) managed to withdraw the pin and remove the downspout. Still no joy. I was looking at the pipe in consternation from about a foot away when the blockage chose to clear itself. A plug of degenerate vegetable matter2 was ejected from the pipe with frightening force, to be followed immediately by a rocket-exhaust-like jet of water that slammed into the ground (already the consistency of chocolate pudding) and flung liquid mud in every direction but mostly mine.

When the pipe had exhausted its resources, where there had once been a modest earth embakment there was now a sizeable hole filled with water. Not for long though, since fortunately there was a basement for it to drain into. So it was that the neighbours, alerted by some sixth sense (or my loud cursing) were gathered to see me trudge back to the garage, ladder in hand, looking as though I had just tunneled out of Colditz via the castle sceptic tank.

1: Safe as long as you aren't on it, of course.
2: I later found it to be composed of 95% seed pods, 4.9% roof shingle grit (a binding agent with no nutritional value whatsoever) and .1% rotten hardwood dowel dumped in the gutter either by some mutinous bird or the resident squirrel terrorist which had got the ball rolling, so to speak

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