A [small] flood with big consequences

warrandyte mist at dawnWarrandyte is a very hilly area, and my house is near the crest of a hill so even heavy downpours simply flow away from us. See exhibit A to the left.

Thanks to my poor photography, the land in the photo looks flat, but it’s actually very steep. If you click on the photo you will see a much larger version in which you can just see the roof of the house down the bottom of my block. That should give you some idea of the actual lay of the land.

Unfortunately, even a well-placed block cannot compensate for owner stupidity [mine]. Explaining what I did wrong will require a few more pictures :

warrandyte pump housing

This first photo is of the area leading to my firefighting pumps. To protect them, I had a pump-house built. Nothing wrong with that. To further protect them I had a wall built in front of the pump-house with an earth berm on the other side [the idea is that fire will rush up the hill and be deflected over the pump-house]. Also not a bad idea, especially as I had an ‘agi’ pipe laid to carry away any water that might flow into the pump-house area.

So what went wrong?

Well, late last year I had this idea of laying flat paving type stones in front of the the pump-house. My reasoning was sound; every north wind deposited heaps of eucalyptus leaves and branches in front of the pump-house. This debris was not only a potential hazard during a fire but also a real pain to clear. [I’d originally covered the ground in a layer of big pebbles, and you can’t sweep pebbles].

Long story short, I thought the drainage in the area would not be affected if I simply placed paving stones on a thin bed of sand…

I was right, and I was wrong. Light showers drained away without any dramas, but as I discovered to my horror, two days of solid, pouring rain just collected in the pump-house area as if it were a very big bucket.

I don’t have any pictures as it was 2am and I was too busy bailing water with a bucket to remember my camera. To give you some idea though, I was wearing gumbies [knee high rubber boots] and the water reached above my ankles.

When bailing was not having an appreciable effect, I tried pulling up the paving stones in the pitch black… Needless to say I eventually gave up and went to bed.

Since that awful night I’ve pulled up the pavers and dug up most of the agi pipe to check if it was working. It was. See exhibit C below:

warrandyte earth berm end

[Note: agi pipe is agricultural pipe that has holes or slots cut into it. The idea is that water seeps in through the holes and then flows away through the pipe]

So what went wrong? The sand, that’s what. I’d used very fine sand and it basically just clogged up. Water did seep through but very slowly, and so when the flood happened, the water could not drain away fast enough.

Digging all this out has been a back-breaking job, and I still have not been game to test the pumps, but I think they’ll be okay. -fingers crossed behind back- Once I finish, I’m going to hire in someone to install a grate the full length of the agi pipe [in front of the pumps]. Then I’m going to get the rest of the area properly concreted. I shudder to think how much it will cost, but DIY got me into this fix in the first place so I’m not game to learn concreting as a hobby.

Anyone else with DIY horror stories? Please tell so I don’t feel quite so alone [and stupid]. 😦



About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

10 responses to “A [small] flood with big consequences

  • chrisjames282

    Hmm… Didn’t the guys who did the concreting mention that the Agi pipe might not be enough during heavy downpours? Looking at the pictures, it seems you need a nice fat 10cm pipe to drain any amount of rainfall out of the “bucket” area. As long as the paved floor area is not level, and falls from all points to the drainpipe, you’ll be fine. The drainpipe will then have to go through the berm, it appears.
    Of course, this should have been done when the shuttering was being built, so now you’ll need a whacking great kango hammer to punch through the concrete (and you’ll need to dig up part of the berm I expect). As luck would have it, I happen to have one, so if you could see your way clear to covering my travel expenses from Europe, I’d be delighted to pop over and sort it out for you πŸ™‚


    • acflory

      -giggles- No probs Christ, I’ll go break open the piggy bank right now. πŸ˜€ And you’re probably right about all of that. -sighs again- Could be one reason I’m procrastinating on getting said professionals out. :/


  • davidprosser

    Ouch, what an awful way to have to learn from your mistakes, and what an expensive one. Puling up paving slabs is not an easy task and doing it in the dark is more difficult still. I hope you get the job done without any hassle.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx


  • EllaDee

    You’re hard on yourself πŸ™‚ You had a go, and it didn’t quite work but no harm done it seems.
    I am not a DIYer. I am not a painter. I’m impatient, and not even tempted.
    Get some quotes, the concreting might not be as exxy as you think, and even we despite the G.O. being able to do it paid a concretor and shed builder because the value was there, and they worked so proficiently it was worth it.
    I can relate to the bailing in the dark and rain though, I had a balcony drain pack it in and the water was ebbing at the living room door. Not fun.


    • acflory

      Ouch. Yes, enclosed balconies are like massive buckets too. And yes, I have my fingers crossed on the cost. I have a guy who does big, burly man-sized jobs for me and I’ll give him a call once the weather decides what it wants to do.


  • Yvonne Hertzberger

    Yikes. I hear your pain.
    We’ve been in our home only four years but the previous owners paved the driveway – but sloped it toward the house rather than away from it. We’ve put in a French drain, and external pump attached to four inch plastic pipe that snakes to the back of the property to take away the water from flash rains. Even so, when we get a real storm we end up with water in our furnace room. It may be a few years before we can afford to have the driveway redone. Sigh.


    • acflory

      Oh! We rented a nice house before this one, but the same thing happened there, except the flood water pooled in the loungeroom. Gods the carpet stank, even after the agent had it cleaned. :/


  • Carrie Rubin

    Oh how miserable. So sorry you’re experiencing this. I don’t do DIY anything–I wouldn’t know where to begin. And the hubs isn’t much better. Needless to say, we have to hire people when things go wrong in our home, which, depending on availability, means we often end up waiting a while to get someone to come.


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