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The Drain - Blog Eleven

The Drain - Blog Eleven
September 9, 2022

In front of the stables is a cement pad about 75'x30'. It is designed to slope slightly downhill away from the stables and towards the center. At the front, against the stables, is a horse washing area. So horse wash water and rainfall drain to the center of the cement pad and away from the barn.. The design of the cement pad is perfect. It is the drain design that is imperfect.

You see, at the center end of the pad is a large pvc drain pipe. But, there is no drain sump. Hence over time the drain line clogged and with all the water forced to a single point that drain line clogged and the water just sat in one spot. With Texas humidity the water just sat there. Now, that arrangement was perfect for Winter's five year old son. He had a standing 4' deep water pool to play in, but for the rest of us walking around the puddle was a pain.

I'm thinking why didn't they put in a drain sump with a removable grate allowing periodic cleaning of the sump? Again this is the early adventure series of our time at the ranch. So I covered the drain, heck it was already plugged anyway and besides I knew exactly where it was. I then used the box blade to carve a small trench from the middle of the water collection point on the cement to a natural drain about 50' away. I'm thinking the water will drain away and the ground will dry out. Alas my experience in ‘no humidity' New Mexico did not translate to Texas. Even in a drought the drainage trench was seldom dry. Worse yet was the fact the whole area is built on fill so the water stayed on the surface and turned what little dirt there was into a slip and slide mess. I'm thinking I need to accelerate that mess higher on my priority list. Did I mention, on the occasion when the surface would dry out the ruts from customer.'s tires were pronounced.

Dash forward 4 weeks, and fixing the drain became a priority. I found a contractor with a track hoe willing to do the job. He dug out a large area around the end of the drain and poured a nice 36"x36" cement drain sump about 30" deep and tied in what turned out to be a 6" drain line into the sump. We covered the sump top neatly with strong grating. During the dig out portion of the job we, both he and I, commented on how the surface was very well packed crusher fines but below that was red clay. You know the Texas red clay that is hard as rock when dry but slick as snot when wet! He had to cut the 6" drain to snake it to the drain sump and proudly announced only the first 1 foot length of pipe was plugged so the drain should work just fine.

When the cement dried he removed the forms, filled the hole around the drain and compacted with his track hoe. He also left me with a pile of dirt, clay, rock mix. I knew some low spots around that needed filling so I was fine with that. Sprinkle a little here and a little there all done

Two days later we got some real rain. And, I got a call from Winter who calmly asks how fast is that drain supposed to work? The rain stopped almost as she asked the question. I rushed down to find the drain sump full and the little boys water puddle on the cement back in place.

It was easy to trace a route, based on where the drain line pointed to where it should have exited just 50' to a natural slope area. But no drain outlet. In fact we dug and hunted for an hour and could not find the drain outlet. The prior owners solution to the puddle problem was to put a sump pump on the cement and pump the water over to the sloped area. I got out the sump pump and pumped the water down, I even pumped out the sump. My plan was to run a hose into the drain and use water pressure to clean the clog thinking that would expose the end of the drain. Wrong answer. It was getting dark so we quit. Except for one little problem. I took a step off the cement to the area that was dug out and sunk my leg a foot deep into Texas red clay quick sand. How could it get worse I'm thinking? We placed cones around the soft, soft dug out area and went back to our evening chores.

I'm lying here in bed (1:45 am) writing this and hoping I can find a plumber tomorrow with a long snake, hoping I can get someone to deliver more crushed concrete rock, hoping I …. Just hoping I don't go nuts.

I've stayed here several times. Easy, quick access from I-20. Nice place.

Rodney N.