Author Topic: Oy, Vay, now what?  (Read 809 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Oy, Vay, now what?
« on: March 26, 2018, 02:24:58 PM »
A little background to start off.

So we're having a flood. We live on the side of a tall, steep-ish hill so we normally don't worry about high water. It's not steep enough for a mudslide except under perhaps the most extreme of circumstances and has well-rooted grass and trees to stabilize it. But we have an outside stairwell that opens to the basement. And about 4 leaves and a handful of seeds that blew off our tree today clogged the drain. By the time Mongoose discovered it, the water was about one inch in the basement. The stairwell had water pooled in it to above her knees and it was slowly pouring through the door. She had no idea what to do so finally got a bucket and went out in the downpour. Nothing like an ice-cold shower to wake one up, right? Of course, it started hailing as soon as she was outside working. At least it was small hail and once she got it bailed out to below the level of the cement door sill, the water stopped entering the basement.

Of course, Im at work at this time, about 45 miles away. She calls me and I race home to help. So, I get home and we sweep, mop, and bail out the basement.

So, I try a drain snake on the stairwell drain...we have a short one for inside jobs to clear out the pipe. I hit a bunch of silt and tree roots. Ok, so I go to the local hardware store to try to rent something bigger. They suggest trying at the local tractor store because they don't have one...the local tractor store is owned by the previous owner of this house. I go in and the guy wants to know what's up...what pipe are you having trouble with? I tell him it's the drain in the outside stairwell and it seems to be clogged. Guy says, you can't clear out that because it's not a pipe. He....drumroll please...buried a 5-gallon bucket under the slab at the bottom of the stairs and topped it off with a 4" drain opening. Because, why not? There should never be more than a couple of gallons of water, right? Right? I mean, it's directly under the edge of the eaves so it's not like the roof will drain off and into the stairwell. And say, just for giggles, fill the stairwell with approximately 80 gallons of water from a 4 rain ...OH WAIT, THAT JUST HAPPEND!

Now, once you have gotten back in your chair after laughing at this WTF...

I have some ideas about what to do to remediate the problem, but I would like the community to chime in with ideas if you have them.

Thanks in advance.



  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Oy, Vay, now what?
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2018, 03:33:20 PM »
To me you really only have three options. Install a sump pump to get the water out of there or an actual gravity drain. Of these two options, I would go the latter route just so you don't have to worry about electrical being out during rain events. The other option is to buy a storm cover for the stairs or build one. All the old farmhouses in our area have these to shed the water away from the stairs. It does make it a hassle to use the stairs but it solves the flooding issue.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Oy, Vay, now what?
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2018, 04:32:11 PM »
The other option is to buy a storm cover for the stairs or build one.

I just installed a temporary version of this. In order to put in a gravity drain, this would involve a large amount of effort/money into breaking out a bunch of concrete and tunnel sideways, etc., etc. A sump capable of pumping the 6 foot of head required wouldn't fit in the space necessary.

We're thinking about a clear plastic patio cover as the stairs are part of the patio slab. Thoughts?

« Last Edit: March 26, 2018, 04:34:45 PM by mr.mongoose »

Sun Hat

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Re: Oy, Vay, now what?
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2018, 06:45:21 AM »
That sounds like your best option. I commend you for not flipping your lid at the former homeowner!