I have been away for over ten days. This trip was particularly challenging because of something I noticed shortly before I left. It would worry me endlessly even though my son was home to keep an eye on it. What it was, was this puddle outside my house. It was right where two water-related fixtures were located. One was the humity drain pipe from the air conditioner handler inside the house. The other was where the main waterline from the curb joins the main water line from the house. Both of these plumbing fixtures are located on the front side of the house in a row of hedges, the surface of which is covered with river rocks about the size of ping-pong balls.
A day or so before I left, I noticed the water level was not receding down under the rocks in a two-foot area. Having had a front lawn float away at one house and the water pressure drop to a drip at another, I was familiar with underground water leaks and what a surprise they can be. Meanwhile, the drip, drip, drip of the AC discharge pipe was supplying a good amount of water where the water table was suspiciously high. That’s because we had a daily monsoon for the past six days. One thing that was consistent was the puddle. It rose to just before the point where it would spill out over the bed of river rock and then onto the driveway.
So, what could be the proper diagnosis, Dr. Plumber?
(A) a water table too high to absorb the discharge from the AC…or
(B) a slow leak underground were the main line came into the house.
I had a plane to catch so it was too late for any further study and too early for calling the shot, let alone calling the plumber who I knew would be chomping at the bit if he had to grab a shovel and start digging. I could hear the cha-ching ringing in my ears.
Consequently, all the while I was away, I had visions—and, oh yeah, an actual dream—of the house sinking into a big sinkhole, the roof barely peeking out over the edge of the driveway. The car, of course, was still in the garage, Bill The Dog was still in the kitchen and my cherished collection of antique tabletop radios were crumbled and crunched in the corner of my office.
“Science,” as they say, was the answer. I experimented when I got home. I put a bucket under the AC drainpipe to isolate its water supply. If the water level dropped beneath the rocks, then I could assume the water table was simply too high from all the rain and the constant dripping from the AC was enough to sustained the puddle in the rocks. If the puddle remained, then it was time to grab a shovel and start looking for the underground leak
I suppose I could let you hang and not disclose the answer, but if you’ve made it this far, then you deserve to know. It was the butler in the library with the–no, just kidding. It was a too high water table. Once I isolated the AC water the rocks surfaced and the puddle disappeared. I attached a four-foot tube to the AC drainpipe and “redistributed” its outflow to a more absorbent location. Lucky me, it only cost me few bucks for the tube and a clamp…plus ten days of fretting about the whole ordeal that made me, as Gabby Hayes used to say… plumb-tuckered out. Hmm, do many of you even know who Gabby Hayes was?