Trees in the Drains, and Men on the Roof
When you start a renovation project, the one area you cannot survey is under the ground. And usually the drains are underground. After working on our house for a couple of weeks, we noticed that the toilet in the basement (the only one left operational after the demolition) was draining slowly. Then we noticed that instead of draining away, it was coming up into the bath tub alongside! Oops. Last week we brought in a specialist, with a toothed, rotating drain rod, and a camera. Opening up the access panel at the street end, we immediately noticed that there were cobwebs in the pipe. Ah ha, nothing has been coming down here for a long time. About 6M (20ft) under our basement floor, the machine met an obstacle! An obstacle that the machine could not dig thru. Stronger words than 'oh dear' were spoken. It was as if the pipe, which had been bone dry and in perfect condition just suddenly stopped.
Next we lifted the toilet pan in the second toilet. (I said we only had the one operational toilet. Well that was true, in that the second toilet didnt have any walls around it.) Sending the cutting tool down from this end, it quickly encountered serious resistance, but started munching (is that the right word?) its way thru. After twenty minutes of the man pushing it forward and pulling it back, and pushing forward again, the water level in the pipe started dropping. Suddenly the resistance gave way and the whole place filled with the smell I do not need to describe, coming out of the access point at the front of the house. And here is the culprit:
A ball of roots from the tree outside the front of the house. We learned from the specialist that the roots can drill their way thru the wall of a cast iron pipe. Most likely this had happened many decades ago, and the root had continued growing inside the pipe, until it blocked the pipe. The roots are so fine, that they do not crack the pipe, or leave a hole once dislodged.
So, after the drama, it turns out our 110 year old pipes are in perfect condition under our basement, and we do not need to do anything to them. What a relief.
Meanwhile, four floors above, the men continued framing the extension.
On the left of the picture, where the ladder is leaning, you can just see the edge of where the back wall used to be. Now we are seeing real progress.