Friday, July 20, 2007

sinkhole sagas

Sinkhole #1

Last fall, we noticed an indentation in our side lawn. We concluded that it was caused by our "dry well" collapsing. For those of you on public sewer systems, a dry well is neither dry nor a well as far as I can tell. It is a place where you can send "grey water". Ours received all our water from our kitchen sink, dishwasher and washing machine. We have had a lot of problems with this dry well over the years, and had to snake the drain pipe every couple years. We were never really sure where the water actually went, until the start of our first sinkhole.

At first it was just a small hole, about a one foot diameter. So, off to the "depot" we go to get 6 bags of dirt. We threw in a few bags, and smoothed the top over. Done!

The next morning, the hole was back and bigger than before. Jeff started throwing in bags of concrete, and then more dirt, smoothed it over. Done!

I came home from work that day and noticed I couldn't see any of the new dirt. I peered into the hole and saw what a dry well really is. It is a 4x4x4 foot concrete block box that collects the grey water and then distributes it into the soil. It is covered with a thin piece of concrete, which over time can disintegrate and cause the soil on top to cave into the well. How did I know this? I could see the whole thing. As I peered into the deep hole, I saw all our grey water, lint, gunk, etc. Just days earlier,my mom and I had been standing right over all this examining the original hole. We were lucky it didn't suck us in! This hole was just eating up everything we threw in.

I call Jeff at work. He comes home with a truckload full of dirt (which you can get for a mere $12!). He unloads all the dirt into the hole. Still not done. It takes 2 truckloads full of dirt to fill the dry well, and also many hours rerouting all our plumbing so the grey water empties into our septic field on our front lawn.

We are still keeping an eye on that hole, 9 months later, but for now it is filled, and thriving with wild mushrooms.

Sink hole #2

This April, I noticed another sink hole near the bottom of our driveway. It was a perfectly round hole which went right threw our grass and soil, and if you looked into it you could see right through to our ditch. I feared we had another problem on our hands. I had images of our driveway falling into the hole.

I had Jeff look at it, and he concluded that the drainpipe that goes under our driveway had collapsed. A few days later, I saw some men working on our ditchline. I went out to tell them about the sink hole. They said they had seen it, and that I should call the town and not drive on it! How could we not drive on it - its the only way to get to our house.

I called the town, and of course they said ,"not out responsibility", call the county. I call the county and explain some workers told me not to drive over it. She asked, "who were these workers?" I explained I wasn't sure who they worked for, but they were working on the ditch. She told me someone would have to get back to me.

No one got back to me. Jeff called a few days later, and there was no record of my call. They did assure him someone would come take a look. The next day there was a message on the machine saying that it was the drainpipe and that they would put it at the top of their list to come and fix it. That was in April. In June, they made some markings on the road. I thought for sure they would be there soon.

Finally, they show up this week with all their equipment. Jeff was very concerned about the whole venture. It would require them digging up the bottom of our driveway to replace the pipe. They assured him they would "cut in" the driveway and make it look nice. Jeff was then excited about having a nice line at the bottom of our driveway.

Jeff went to work, while I stayed home during all the construction. Jeff called a couple times to ask if they had made a straight line when they cut the driveway. I told him I couldn't tell since there were trucks blocking my view.

When they left, I went down to check the driveway. It was straight all the way across, except for the last 2 feet where it was jagged. I didn't call Jeff.



Jeff came home and saw the damage. The whole end of our driveway seemed to be breaking off in pieces. I tried to assure Jeff that when they came back to pave I was sure they would recut the driveway so it was a straight line. Jeff looked to be on the verge of eruption. I guess I really don't get his affection toward a strip of asphalt.

Jeff and I went out to lunch the next day. On the ride home, Jeff was looking at other people's driveways and said they all have cracks in their driveways and they seem to be ok with it. Yes Honey, people do go on with their lives even if there are cracks in their driveways. I guess he is just trying to prepare himself for the worst. He does love that piece of asphalt.

So, the saga continues. We have no idea when they will be back to finish the job. For now, we are driving over gravel, which seems to sink a little more with each tire tread. Jeff wants to spray paint a straight line over the end of the driveway where he wants them to make their cut. I can just imagine that process of getting it perfectly straight. We may need my mathematician dad to come out and do some formulas to get the line just right.

I must say, they did use some nice rocks around the drain pipe. Some would look very nice in my garden....do I dare?


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