October 1995 Edition

What Is A Dry Well

We have a very flat yard with poor drainage. Every time it rains we have water seeping into our basement. We installed gutters and downspouts, but when it rains the water pools and runs down the foundation. We do not want to move all of our landscaping and have the entire yard re-graded. Is there another option?           
New homes are being built every day with the same problem. Even though the building code requires positive drainage away from the structure, some builders do not understand the requirements. Improper grading and downspouts dumping water at the foundation is the main cause for most of the basement water problems.  
Dry Well         
The best solution is to install drain pipes at each downspout and run them to a lower area of the yard. However, if the yard is totally flat, another option might be a dry well at each downspout. A dry well is just a hole in the ground filled with gravel. When it rains the water runs into the hole where it collects until the ground can absorb it. The system does have its disadvantages. Unusually heavy rains can overflow the well and heavy clay soils absorb the water much more slowly than sandy soils. 
To make a dry well, dig a four foot diameter hole six to eight feet deep and ten to twelve feet from the house. Next, line the hole with landscape fabric which will allow the water to soak through and prevent the well from clogging with dirt and silt. Fill the well with large rocks or gravel until it’s about a foot below the surface. Dig a trench from the downspout  to the well and install a  4” PVC or corrugated drain pipe. Cover the remainder of the well with the landscaping fabric and fill the remainder of the area in with dirt. Finish it off with sod or grass seed.            
Although I have not seen any, I have been told that some home centers carry a special round plastic container that can substitute for the gravel. The containers fill up with water and have holes for the water to soak into the soil. The only drawback is the cost which is around $100.00 each and you will need one for each downspout. 

Smoke Odor In The House

We have purchased a home from people who were heavy smokers. The walls and ceilings have a yellowish film of tar that smells really bad. We want to paint but are afraid the paint may not stick. Is there any way to clean both the tar and odor?           
You are right about the paint not sticking to a dirty surface. You will need to clean the surfaces with a non-sudsing cleaner. Two brands that work well are TSP-90 and Soilax. These are available at most home centers or paint stores. You will need to mix 1 to 2 ounces to a gallon of water. Scrub with a sponge until the residue comes off. Next, wipe the surfaces with clean water and allow them to thoroughly dry. Then prime and paint.

 How Do You Add A Basement Bath 

Our basement is unfinished and we are thinking about completing it.. We would like to add a bathroom but we were told the floor level is below the sewer line. Is it possible to add a bath?           
This is a very common problem for many homes with basements. The main item that will be required, is to install a sewer ejector pump.            
You will need to remove part of the concrete floor in order to install the plumbing drains and the sewer ejector tank. The waste and vent piping are installed just as it would be for any bathroom in the house but the drains must empty into a tank located underneath the concrete floor. A sewage ejector pump is installed inside the tank. The pump discharges the sewage into the main waste pipe through a check valve which prevents backflow into the tank. The unit normally requires a separate vent pipe that must extend through the roof. This will probably be the most difficult part to accomplish. Check with your plumber to see how difficult the system will be to install. The average cost of installing a sewage ejector system is between $1,500.00 to $2,000.00.

If you have a question, change of address, comment, home tip or would like to send Home Tips to your clients, send your letter to Home Tips, Christian Building Inspectors, Inc., 3697 Habersham Lane, Duluth, Georgia 30096. You can E-Mail your questions to us at rodharrison@christianbuildinginspectors.com. We reserve the right to edit questions for length.

Carbon Monoxide Alert

What is the number 1 cause of poisoning deaths in the U.S.?            
The answer is carbon monoxide. This gas has no smell, no taste and no color and kills nearly 300 people in their homes each year. Carbon monoxide is produced by burning any fuel. Therefore, any fuel-burning appliance in your home is a potential carbon monoxide source.             
When appliances are kept in good working condition, they produce little carbon monoxide. Improperly operating appliances can produce fatal carbon monoxide concentrations in your home. Likewise, using charcoal indoors or running your car in a garage can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.           
The initial symptoms of carbon monoxide are similar to the flu but without the fever. They include:
                        * Dizziness          * Nausea                  * Fatigue                  * Headache              * Irregular Breathing  
Remember, if you have any of these symptoms and if you feel better when you go outside your home and the symptoms reappear once you’re back inside, you may have carbon monoxide poisoning.           
Make sure appliances are installed according to manufacturer’s instructions and the local building code. Have the heating system (including chimneys and vents) inspected and serviced annually by a licensed heating and air conditioning contractor. Inspect the water heater vent pipe for rust, stains and improper connections.            
The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends installing at lease one carbon monoxide detector outside the sleeping area of the house.
Excerpts taken from “The Senseless Killer” brochure by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Quote of the Month

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson


A Tip Of The Hat To:

Tammy Park

Metro Brokers Real Estate

Tucker, Georgia

**** Thank You****