Friday, April 28, 2006

Crack(ed) Pipe

This what the contractor from Bix and I discovered when we removed the holey-board-tool-thing, also known as a peg board:
It's one of those ceramic foundation pipes they used to lay along the bottom of a foundation or basement, parallel to the wall, to help relieve hydrostatic pressure of the earth on the walls by giving the water somewhere "easy" to go. You can see a little picture here, or, if you're a homeowner with a basement, you already know more than there is to know about hydrostatic pressure and dewatering systems. If you're not a homeowner, or live in one of those parts of the country without basements, you probably don't care.

So the mystery here is why there is a ceramic foundation pipe FOUR FEET UP MY WALL AND COMING PERPENDICULARLY INTO MY BASEMENT! It appears to have been "installed" somewhat after the house was built. Here's a close-up of the pipe. A little hard to see, but if you look closely, you can see all the mud in there. The pipe goes back as far as our high-powered flashlights could penetrate through the mud, at least 20 feet or so:

In that first picture, you'll see that it looks like the pipe vomited something onto the worktable. That's actually an ancient rag that some prior homeowner "installed" (probably when they installed the crazy-ass pipe) to keep the water from coming into the basement. Here is the completely vile rag:

The contractor said it looked like one of the pipe tiles shifted in the recent rain, so until recently, the rag did an okay job of stopping the water that would seep into the pipe, leading to what looked like normal, minor midwestern basement seepage. The heavy rains over Easter overwhelmed the ability of the rag set-up to prevent water from USING THE WATER PIPE and thus flooded my basement.

But now we come to the truly frightening part. Up until now we've merely been in the realm of stupid. Now we enter the realm of "Holy SHIT!" Look closely at this picture and note the WIRING THAT IS AT LEAST 20 YEARS OLD:

Yes, that's ancient electrical wiring - the contractor and I guessed about 20 years old - disappearing into the random-ass muddy pipe. Yes, it does appear to be live. (No, we don't know what it's powering. The electrician is coming next to GET RID OF IT!) Yes, that is an apparently live junction box covered by a piece of cardboard. The entire set-up was hidden behind the peg-board.

How old is this fiasco? We're not sure. The house is almost sixty years old. The pipe was clearly added to the basement after original construction, and for no functional reason whatsoever, except apparently to run those electrical wires. Someone was either an absolute idiot do-it-yourselfer, or hired an absolute idiot contractor. The last owners (whom we know socially) disclosed the seepage to us, but appear to have been unaware of the whole pipe/rag setup, thus proving that if a holey-tool-board pre-exists when you buy the house, most of us won't bother to take it down to inspect the basement walls. Or during the entire time we live there. So it may have been two or three or even four owners ago.

So there you have it. THERE'S A FRIGGIN' PIPE IN MY WALL!


dewayne said...

If that's behind the walls imagine what's under the floor.
Jimmy Hoffa perhaps.

Tony said...

Floating a guess here. Was your house once on a septic system and now on the city sewer? Maybe that is the old pipe penetration from the old septic?

Anonymous said...

A lesson to all would be home buyers, get an inspection before you buy a house, and hire a reputable proffesional.

Anonymous said...

After you cut those wires, use your supernatural hearing powers. If you hear, "Hey, what happened to the power?", then you defiantly have trolls. I'd want to know where that wire went if I was you. Someone might be taking advantage.

Chef Kevin said...

The only thing I've seen like this is at my parent's house. They have a root cellar below their basement. They have a ventilation pipe that is almost as big as this in the cellar. It comes outside quite a bit smaller to some decorative little thingy in their landscaping well constructed to keep out most anything. No live electrical wires though. And why someone would want to vent your basement like that....

pollypeoria said...

You poor, poor, thing. Not even a member of the Bar deserves such a travesty. Polly will pray for you. BTW anon, you can hire a reputable professional and top notch home inspector and still get really, really, REALY screwed.