Hello once again, this time from the very wet north. Vancouver has been hit by something similar to the Pineapple Express, as we called it in California. A stream of humid air coming out of the south and dropping a whole lot of rain in a very brief time.
I will get into trouble with some of my Californian readers over this, but I didn’t have a rain gauge out until halfway through the storm series. I only put one out late in the current storm cycle in a vain attempt to figure out how much it takes to overflow our water feature. Yes, really.
Backstory: when I lived in California I started tracking the local rainfall at my house because I wanted to know if it correlated with how much water the well produced. During that time I tested various rain gauges to see how accurate they were compared with each other (answer: the cheap ones are not accurate at all, they are decorative only) and to learn if placement matters (answer: yes, a lot). I put all of my rainfall data in a google spreadsheet, made some charts, and created a thing that became popular enough that lots of people other than me were referring to it.
I expected to start tracking rainfall in a similar manner up here when we arrived, but that didn’t happen. First off, I was busy. Art school kept me hopping, and I didn’t have anything like the time I’d had before. In addition, we were renting, and we were going to move again, so the data collected at those houses wouldn’t be all that useful in some sense. Now that we are in the new place I have been busy with other projects, and hadn’t gotten around to putting the gauge out. In addition, there is so much tree cover at this place that I am not sure I can get an accurate rainfall reading here anyway.
But this series of storms sent me scrambling. The water feature probably holds 150–250 gallons of water. On Wednesday afternoon — as it was pouring — I looked outside to see the water feature was much more full than it should be. I suited up, grabbed a bucket, and bailed 30 or 40 gallons out of it to get it back to normal. But after dinner it was back to being too full again. Not overflowing, but that was a possibility overnight if the rain continued. Rather than risk it I went to the local hardware store and bought 100 feet of cheap hose that I could attach to the pump easily and let it remove the excess water for me. Much easier than bailing. When I went to bed, it was still at a reasonable level.
Thursday morning, though, it was once again too full. I connected the hose and the pump again did its magic.
Before going on, I can hear the questions already: Is this even a problem? What happens if it overflows? I wish I knew the answer. Thus far I have not been able to figure that out without risking water seeping into the house.
Part of the patio drains into the water feature, and the patio pavers are set on top of an old, concrete patio. Water that doesn’t drain into the “pond” goes, well, somewhere. We don’t know where. In the worst case, though, it could flow across the patio towards the house, which sits on a concrete slab and isn’t much higher than the patio pavers themselves. In that event it might be possible for water to work its way into the house.
For obvious reasons I’d like to avoid that, and any testing of what happens when the water feature overflows must done with everything ready to pump the water out if things look bad. So far those opportunities have only come around — had I let them — in the middle of the night.
After I pumped down the pond on Thursday morning the water level was stable. Not much rain, and thus no concern, until late that evening when it started raining again. By now the rain gauge was out on the patio table, so we know over four centimetres (one and three-quarter inches) of rain fell between Thursday morning and Friday morning. It didn’t stop raining until about 8:00 am on Friday, and the pond is too full once again. It did not overflow. It could with more rain, which is in the forecast.
I am not pumping it down just yet, though. I am still trying to run a controlled test of the overflow situation. Or the forecast could be wrong and it might not rain. The sun is out as I type this. Wanna bet it starts raining again just before bedtime?
Anyway, a piece of advice for anyone contemplating installing a water feature: create it so if it overfills it will overflow harmlessly. And if you buy a house that has a water feature, ask what happens if it overfills in a rainstorm. Trust me. You’ll sleep better if you know.
The title of this post refers to the fact that we had several inches of rain dumped on our brand new roof during this storm series, which was yet another thing that kept me from sleeping. Why are the really big rainstorms always at night?!?
In other news, it was a productive week. I don’t really want to make this a list of “things Jeff got done” because that is boring reading, even for me. But some amusing things came up, and one or two push me closer to having a real studio in the garage, so:
- We started prepping the guest room for painting.
- I finished all my preparation for the installation of the new garage door. That should happen in something like a week.
- We have a date for a new water heater installation this coming week.
- I had to make an unexpected repair to a door on the back of the house that was suddenly showing light through it at the bottom. Years ago someone had trimmed that wood door down on the bottom and not painted or sealed it, so it was exposed to the weather and it is rotten. I attached a draft stopper as a temporary fix, but a new door is needed. Here’s a photo showing the damage. (And no, I didn’t wind up using the spray foam you see in the picture.) Note the damage on the right side of the door at the bottom. That is what unexpectedly appeared, and which could have let small critters, water, and cold air in.
- I voted in the US election. You should too if you are able.
- The skylights are now secured from the inside. They had been attached before, but I suspect those screws had been removed 20 years ago and were never replaced.
- I installed the replacement for the light I broke last week. A friend said I was guilty of “light murder” which inspires me to want to write a play titled “A Little Light Murder” in which the hero is unjustly accused of an awful crime when all they did was drop a glass globe from a lamp. That twist, of course, would only be revealed at the very end. (Yes, an entire play for a single pun sounds like a good idea to me.) Compare this boring photo with a similar one from the previous post:
- I took a nice walk. Pictures included below.
- During the current huge downpour I learned that skylights are noisy things. There are six of them in the house, and it’s loud in here when it rains.
- Despite the rains coming from near the equator, it’s gotten cold. Fall has arrived. We had to turn on the heat, so I had to figure out how our boiler works and understand the heating system, at least to some degree. In a day or two I will turn it back off when temperatures go back up.
- I did a bunch of work on the CNC machine, and it works! No photos, sadly, because I was doing really dumb things just to verify the machine is OK and the software is generating the right stuff. There is a chance I will create a simple project in the next week or two as a proof of concept. If so, I might create a video of that process.
As I said, it was a productive week, but such lists are boring. Sorry. You don’t come here for that. To make it up to you, here are a few photos from some trails near my home, taken during the above mentioned walk. At the end of that hike I was on part of the Baden-Powell trail, which feels appropriate. Here’s a trail map.
It’s nice having something that lovely just a short walk away.
I trust everyone is staying healthy. I really do hope to get back to sharing creative work one of these days!