Sunday, 12 May 2013

Flood in conservatory puts concert at risk

After weeks of rehearsal Jan and I were ready to sing yesterday in our local choral society's concert. We had a short final "topping and tailing" rehearsal with the soloists in the afternoon, from which we returned to the house at about 4 pm.

It had been raining earlier in the day, fortunately missing Jan's school fete. We had plenty of time to get some tea and change our clothes.


I noticed that the conservatory floor was wet again. Again? Yes, twice during the snowy weather I had had to mop up some water which had mysteriously appeared on the conservatory floor. I had assumed that it was condensation from the two cast iron rainwater downpipes which come down inside the conservatory (on what used to be an outside wall).

So I set to with cloth and small container, drying off the marble floor tiles. And then it began to rain hard.

Suddenly, with an ominous gurgling sound, water began to gush from a joint in one of the downpipes. Quick! More cloths! Help!! Get the bucket!

The water was coming in faster than I could mop it up. Much faster. Then I thought of using a sponge, and this was much more effective at soaking up the flood.

By the time the rain eased off I had filled two buckets with about four gallons of water - and it had been a short, albeit heavy, shower.

I now had some breathing space in which to consider what to do. But not much breathing space - we had the concert to sing in and we still hadn't had tea. Jan cooked while I arranged towels and other cloths around the pipe to contain any future outpouring, not that it would cope with another heavy shower.

I gobbled down some food while thinking about what to do next. I remembered that I had some gutter sealant somewhere, so I managed to find that and a caulking gun. Amazingly, despite having been partly used, the sealant was still usable (I had tightened the nozzle down onto a piece of polythene over the end of the tube). I just about had time to smear some sealant round the joint before changing and walking briskly to the church where the concert was taking place. I got there just ten minutes before the start.

(The photo shows the joint before I'd put any sealant round it - on the left you might be able to see a gap between the collar and the pipe. Two lengths of pipe join together here)

Thinking about it later I realised that there was almost no chance of the sealant holding the massive head of water which could build up in the downpipe. The downpipe itself was presumably blocked, preventing water reaching the soakaway.

Fortunately when we got home after the concert there had been no more flooding. Today I put more sealant round the joint, and had a minor brainwave about what to do. As there are two downpipes in parallel, just three feet apart, I could block the faulty one at the top to prevent water coming down. I would just have to hope that the other downpipe could cope with the extra load until I come up with a better solution. I put a ladder up and inserted a four inch length of old plastic downpipe into the junction with the guttering. This should allow water to flow past it but not down the downpipe.

It rained after I did this this afternoon, and, so far, it appear to be working.

The concert, by the way, went very well. We sang Stainer's Crucifixion; Handel's Hallelujah Chorus and Zadok the Priest; Rutter's A Clare Benediction; Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus; and Elgar's Ave Verum. We had two good soloists, a bass and a tenor; and the organ was played magnificently by the organist of Norwich Cathedral.

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