For many reasons, it was the perfect kind of project for a man. Specifically, this man.
THERE WERE HARDLY ANY CONSEQUENCES FOR DOING IT WRONG.
Those are the kind of projects at which I excel. So what if I mess it up. Mox nix, as my childhood friend Bob Sherwood used to say; it makes no difference.
Not much water ever flows through that gutter and tile. And the tile is at least 40 feet long, perforated the entire way. The little bit of water that gets into it leeches out the holes in the tile anyhow. But still, I reasoned, why not unplug the end.
LOOKED LIKE IT WOULD BE REALLY EASY TO DO.
Like so many such projects, it appeared there would be nothing to it: find the end of the tile and clear out the obstruction.
This, of course, was not the case. Two decades of organic decay in the soil where the tile comes out had buried it on my hillside. To find the outlet, I had to backtrack to a known path of the underground tile and…
START DIGGING UP MY YARD.
I hate that, especially in this summer when the grass has been so perfect. But, only part of the tile was under the lawn; the rest was through a mulched landscape bed. So I dug until I found the tile, 16 feet or so from the end.
That showed me the angle at which the tile was running. So I sighted down the exposed section into the offending underbrush that was hiding the end. And I waded in with my shovel.
I FOUND THE END OF THE TILE.
And it was plugged. Solid. With rich black soil. And walnuts. Ground squirrels had apparently made the tile their home.
I started augering around with a garden trowel, hoping that the clog extended just a foot or so into the tile.
The soil and walnuts and other squirrel debris were packed way up in there. So I got out an old fashioned weed digger on a long wooden handle that let me scratch out the packed material four feet up the tile…
WHERE IT WAS STILL PACKED SOLID.
So I started digging to uncover the entire tile. I figured I was going to have to cut off the clogged part and replace it.
BUT IT WAS ALREADY CUT.
The squirrels had chewed through the tile to remodel it with two additional side entrances. When I lifted the end of the tile, it broke off at the squirrel doors. And the newly exposed opening showed the tile still packed solid with dirt and roots and walnuts.
Eventually, I dug up 16 feet of drain tile. All of it was plugged. But when I cut it off, the newly exposed opening showed debris that was not packed so tightly.
At that point, being tired of digging and augering, I opted for a much easier but slightly more dangerous finale to my tile clearing project: I got out a ladder, dragged my garden hose to the edge of the roof, wormed the end of the hose two feet down the downspout and turned on the water full force.
It was an absolute thrill to see, first, a muddy mess and, next, clear water streaming from the end of my tile. I connected 16 feet of nice new drain tile and covered it all up again.
Two days later we got that noisy thunderstorm on July 2. Three-tenths of an inch of rain came down. Water ran off my roof and into the gutter and into the downspout and into the tile and…
Jim Busek is a free-lance writer who lives in Norwalk. He can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]