Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Downspouts and Drain Lines and What the Heck Have We Been Doing?

I hope everyone reading this is staying safe and staying healthy. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 9 months since we last posted an update on the Retro Ranch. Like most of you, the past few weeks and months have been like nothing we have ever experienced before. I have been working almost exclusively from my home office and Village Frame & Gallery is open by appointment only. We will survive (sing it Gloria!)


So what has been going on at the Ranch since last we posted an update? To be honest, for the past 5 months, not much. As this is the blog about the Retro Ranch and not Village Frame & Gallery, we won’t go into the painting of the showroom and taking care of a multitude of sins in Beth’s 100 year old shop. Frankly, we’ve just been enjoying living in the Ranch. 

Did we ever write about the downspouts and drain lines? There are 3 downspouts on the front of the house that connect to two drain lines that empty on the street. Whenever it rained, which in Oregon is frequently, they would overflow at their bases causing lots of puddles and swamps around the house foundation. We rented a power auger in the summer of 2018 and identified where the blockages or breaks were.

The line near the driveway was exposed as I removed more rock last summer. The break and previous repair were found and it seemed like it would be a straightforward repair with some 3” pipe, elbows, glue and a hacksaw. It became a bit more complicated for two reasons. The first was me breaking another section of the drain line as I dug for rocks, but also 3” drain line from the early 60s isn’t quite the same as currently available drain line. Fortunately with another 10’ of pipe and a snazzy rubber coupling I reconnected the downspout and it drained to the street. Huzzah!

The other two downspouts came off the ends of the garage, connected somewhere under the lawn and drained at the other edge of our property. I had identified a break or blockage near the street and started to dig. I found the break quickly and, now having experience in drain line repair, it was quick and easy. Two rubber couplings, a leftover section of pipe and we were back in business. Easy-peasy.


As our long-time reader(s) know, nothing is ever easy at the Ranch. Seems there was another break about 3 feet back. As this was near an above ground utility box I dug carefully. I exposed the break and found it was caused by whatever utility contractor had buried a line in white plastic conduit, right through our drain line. Well sh*t! I put in a call to locate the utility lines so we could determine who to go after. It wasn’t Northwest Natural as it wasn’t a gas pipe. Century Link’s lines were in back of the house, PGE’s electric lines were elsewhere and Comcast marked their’s going a different direction. So whose line was it? A supervisor for the utility marking service came out and met me and we cut a small hole in the white conduit. Turns out it was the main Comcast trunk line for the neighborhood.

If you have ever had to call the cable company to get something fixed you know my dread about trying to deal with this. Amazingly, after navigating their phone system from hell I found an intelligent and helpful human who arranged for someone to come have a look, they did. Another call a week later actually resulted in them confirming that, “Yes it was indeed their issue.” They sent out a repair contractor to fix the break, who, upon reviewing the situation decided to replace the drain line and reconnect the adjacent line all the way back to the house with minimal damage to the yard. The front of the house has drained properly since then for the first time in likely decades. Now we get to figure out the issues with the backyard drain lines. Oh joy!


We will write again soon - there are landscape projects and the last phase of the kitchen restoration begins in 7 days. Meal prep and dishes will be relegated to the patio or garage. Not sure where the coffee maker will call home for two months. First world problems to say the least.


Stay safe and stay healthy!