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Old 04-23-2009, 10:46 PM   #1
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BackYard needs Help ASAP!! Pics included


Hello everyone. Maybe someone here can help me out. I am having some issues with my backyard. I have had numerous contractors (graders, drain tile expert, concrete contractor) come out to my home to help identify the problem. No one has given me a solid answer as to what the problem is.

sorry for being so long:

We'll start with a little background:
I have been at this house since Oct 2007, first home ever. When purchased the house the yard and lawn was a little wet but paid no attentioned to it. According to the disclosure, the previous owners have had drain tiles installed to improve drainage. I have also talked to some neighbors and they have noticed previous owners using various contractors working on the yard throughout the years. I guess after talking to the neighbors this area used to be a wet-land area and redeveloped to an established neighborhood. Neighbors had mentioned that they too have had drainage issues and some have brought in top soil dirt or contracted to have drain tiles installed.
Current status:
Come spring 2008 water was slowly building up in the backyard. We have had heavy rainstorms that spring, location IOWA. I let the yard dry up for days and other parts of the yard was dry, except for these particular areas and along hill side. Isn't water suppose to drain down a hill, ie slope? My father and I figured drainage issue. We rented a trencher, bought drain tiles, and order 8 tons of pea rock. As we attempted to begin trenching but every so feet we'd run into existing drain tiles and immediatedly stopped. We picked a different location to begin trenching. Once again ran into more existing drain tiles. . Picked another location, began, trench, same problem.
At this point, we were unable to determine the configuration of the exisiting layout of the tiles and gave up after 3 days. They were running up and down, left to right, diagonal. It was very difficult to navigate the trencher as the ground where we want the drain tiles to run through was very wet. We'd get stuck here and there. The ground is made up of clay dirt. The retaining water always had a foul smell, sat in numerous areas, and always had the film on top. Film easiest to described as if you pour gasoline on water. I thought it was sewage of some sort and call the city out to check. They stated that it was not sewage as no sewage pipes runs through the back yard.
I gave up all spring, summer, and fall of 2008. The yard has been a mess since then, kids can not play in yard without coming back muddy. I figured that I can put basketball court over everything( concrete slabs) but concrete man said it would crack and be very useless.

Analysis of contractors:
1. drainage issue, install more drain tiles, tear up old grass, bring in loads of top soil, lay sod. est: over 12k. No guarantee this could fix problem.
2. Underground spring, must channel water away using drain tiles, but won't do the work.
3. Concrete guy: no can do due to unstable ground. Risk of concrete cracking
4. drainage issue, must bring in dirt regrade. No guarantee to fix.
5. Put in a swimming pool
6. Flat out said: I DON'T KNOW and left.

Plea:
Can someone out there anywhere, that has run into this issue before, please help me? Or at least help me figure out how to temporary fix so I can sell this POS . I am not going to spend 12k-20k on a no guarantee fix. Someone please please help!!!!

Pictures: 38 photos total
http://s302.photobucket.com/albums/n...view=slideshow

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Old 04-24-2009, 01:28 AM   #2
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BackYard needs Help ASAP!! Pics included


Can't really say from the pictures but, it kinda looks like your property is sitting in a bowl where water is going to drain to. Sounds like the drain tiles are ineffective or stopped up. Where do they run to? I recently moved from a property with poor drainage for a different reason. It was a flat area with a clay subsoil and just did not drain well. Before I sold it I considered digging a fairly deep hole and installing a pump to move the water out into the street. Dry well is the name that came to mind but not sure that is correct. Anyway, drain lines would have radiated out from this to the problem areas and a pump would take the water to the street. Of course it wouldn't just be a hole but some kind of container in which the pump sat but would be filled and covered. Kind of a septic drain field in reverse. Something to consider also is if you substantially change the ground water level it may affect the house structure by settling and causing cracks and perhaps other substantial problems.

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Old 04-24-2009, 09:08 AM   #3
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Drainage outlet is near the wooden fence line shown in the pictures. The water is drained to a easement/common ground of all the neighbors.

A former employee also mentioned that there is a chemical that would eat up all this water. Anyone know of this? He said that they used to use it on softball/baseball fields to quickly dry areas. I've never heard of this and wouldn't this chemical rob the growing grass of water?

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Old 04-24-2009, 09:40 AM   #4
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Where in Iowa are you -- just curious. It's possible that the tile previously installed were not installed correctly...in fact if they were...I'm certain you would not have this issue. At the exit point of the tile, is it wet? Does it appear as thought water is making it's way to that point? It's possible that you have the "lucky" lot where the water table exits the ground caused when the grading was done for the sub-division. One option could be to take some dirt from the berm at the end of your property and bring down to the low area. BECAREFUL though if it's a flood levee you can't touch it. If you didnt' want to deal with tiling, you could provide above ground drainage to one side of the lot to the other giving the water a place to flow. Just make sure you don't impeed the water flow from your neighbor on either side.

BTW...if you want to locate underground items heres an easy way. Take two pieces of 12ga copper 24" long strip all insulation off so it's bare. At one end of each bend a 90* angle this will be your "handle." With one wire in each hand, bring your arms up level so the wires stick straight out in front of you about 8" apart. Walk slowly where you think the tile lines are burried and when you cross it, the wires will turn across each other. I usually come at it from a couple different directions, poking in a flag where the wires cross, that way I can see from the surface what's going on underground. Some people cannot do this for what ever reason...but most can...I've used it successfully for items up to 5 feet deep.

BUT I'm sorry to say ther's no easy cheep fix. You could remove the shed and dead tree, put in a water feature...they're becoming quite popular!

Good luck...
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Old 04-24-2009, 09:53 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RippySkippy View Post
BTW...if you want to locate underground items heres an easy way. Take two pieces of 12ga copper 24" long strip all insulation off so it's bare. At one end of each bend a 90* angle this will be your "handle." With one wire in each hand, bring your arms up level so the wires stick straight out in front of you about 8" apart. Walk slowly where you think the tile lines are burried and when you cross it, the wires will turn across each other. I usually come at it from a couple different directions, poking in a flag where the wires cross, that way I can see from the surface what's going on underground. Some people cannot do this for what ever reason...but most can...I've used it successfully for items up to 5 feet deep.
.
If you can, get your hands on Home Water & Moisture Problems (Gary Branson). I ordered a pile of books from Amazon about water problems and it was the only one I didn't return.

I think RippySkippy might be joking...I hope. Either that or he's hoping to win America's Funniest Home Videos by secretly recording you trying his method. YouTube "dowsing" to see what you'd look like. Just hire a Water Witch and be done with it.

But seriously, my sympathy, I'm trying to fix my drainage too, and have had more than one hack give me bad advice. And if there is any non-hack on the eastern shore of MD or Greater DC Baltimore that wants to help me plan my rainwater management system let me know.
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Old 04-24-2009, 10:05 AM   #6
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RippySkippy: I am in Urbandale/Des Moines.

Previous installations looks to be not good. They are maybe a foot or two down for surface. Some with pea rock surround tiles, others nothing. Some tiles will protectant sleeve, others without. There was no use of landscaping fabric. Who did this? IDK. Tile outlets has slow creeping water.. constantly running.

If you look at my rooftop pics.. The area to the left is a perfect square as there used to be a playground set there. Talking to neighbors, old owners made it into a sand box, removed that, added mulch, removed that, brought in dirt and grew grass.

I am to a point to see if there are any quick fixes to get this thing on the market! Any other suggestions?

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Old 04-24-2009, 10:42 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leah Frances View Post
I think RippySkippy might be joking...I hope. Either that or he's hoping to win America's Funniest Home Videos by secretly recording you trying his method. YouTube "dowsing" to see what you'd look like. Just hire a Water Witch and be done with it.
Sorry Leah...I'm not joking...it works and works well.

I'll add you to the doubters list, but you don't have to take my word for it...make your own set of wires, lay a garden hose or wire on top of your driveway and walk across it SLOWLY....the wires will cross if you have the touch...I swear it. Don't want to be caught outside...do it in your garage....you've go nothing to loose. Hire a Water Witch...now YOU'VE got to be kidding....
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Old 04-24-2009, 03:59 PM   #8
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Thanks for replying. Is there any quick solution to this problem? I am at the point where this wouldn't even be worth my time to even try to find a permanent fix. I'd like to fix this quickly and fast, and move on to a new home. $10-20k just does not fit my budget or even try to take out a second mortgage for a home that I did not plan on staying for more the 5 years. I'd like to find a quick fix, ie bandaid lasting 1 or even two years, and then moving on. Thanks for your advice.
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Old 04-24-2009, 04:14 PM   #9
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Sorry fiji...I don't see anything to band-aidish to do what you want to do...re-tile, move dirt from the berm to the lower area, regrade, or put in a dry well with a pump are your options...none easy and all will cost some $. What's the purpose of the moat between the house and wet area, left of the shed? Is that your tiling gone wrong? The choice is now yours. If it's not worth your time...leave it for the "new" owners....
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Old 04-24-2009, 04:30 PM   #10
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Sorry fiji...I don't see anything to band-aidish to do what you want to do...re-tile, move dirt from the berm to the lower area, regrade, or put in a dry well with a pump are your options...none easy and all will cost some $. What's the purpose of the moat between the house and wet area, left of the shed? Is that your tiling gone wrong? The choice is now yours. If it's not worth your time...leave it for the "new" owners....
Thanks RippySkippy, I know I will have to spend some money but not 10-20k worth. "purpose of moat"??? left of sheld and pile of rock? uh... I was able to put down some drain tiles and fill the area around it with rock. I just haven't put dirt over it to cover it up. Is there anything out there I can use to suck up the current standing water? Make the mud dry out? To make the house look sellable at this current state? ie. sawdust, or wood chips or some sort of absorbant product?
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Old 04-24-2009, 04:37 PM   #11
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probably the cheapest thing you could do would be to put in a drywell (DAGS, Menards has'em) with a pump that you would physically pump the water over the berm or out to the street...but as you know it wouldn't be permanent....tossing something in would just make a much larger mess...really though have you considered putting in a water garden?
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Old 04-24-2009, 04:56 PM   #12
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Your house was obviously built in a wetland, probably filled in before there were regulations to prevent it. Wetlands form for one of two reasons. They form if there is a bowl, and water from higher ground either flows overland (surface flow) or through the ground (groundwater) to the low area. This looks like your situation, as there is clearly a hill behind your house.

The second reason is if there is a localized area of poor drainage, say clay soil, and surface water cannot percolate into the ground. This type of situation may cause a temporary pond to form during rain events. You see this in the desert during the rare rainstorms.

I believe you have the first situation, the land is low and collects water. Filling the bowl in with soil, as was apparently done in your case, does not lower the water table, it merely covers the problem up (literally). During wet periods, the water table is at or even above grade, and you have soggy soil, or even a temporary pond. I have a temporary pond in my backyard, which forms in the later winter, and persists typically through the early spring. As the summer wears on, and water is evaporated from the ground and removed by trees, shrubs and grass (evapotranspiration), the water table drops, and the pond disappears.

So, what to do about it. Drain tiles will only be effective if you can drain the water to a lower water elevation. The only way to determine if there is a lower water elevation is to perform a survey of the area using an accurate survey instrument. If you do not have access to such equipment, you hire a surveyor.

Assuming you can find a low area to drain to (could be a city drain system, could be a vacant lot), you would need to obtain permission to connect your tile lines to that area. DO NOT ASSUME that you can do this as a matter of right. You will need a permit from the town or city, plus permission from the landowner whose land you wish to drain to. You may not be able to get either one. If there is no low spot to drain to, or you cannot get permission to connect to the low spot, you move on to plan B.

Plan B simply raises the grade in your backyard so the water remains at an acceptable distance below the surface. You measure the maximum water elevation during the wet part of the year, and determine how much above water table you want your back yard. Then you have a grading contractor fill your yard to a suitable grade, perhaps a foot above the maximum water table. Again, you may need a permit for this, so check with your town or city. Fill is not going to be inexpensive, in my area you pay about 20 dollars per cubic yard delivered, and of course extra for spreading, compacting, loam and seed. I could not tell how big your backyard is, but to calculate the cubic yards needed, measure the area in square feet, multiply by the required thickness of soil in feet, then divide the total by 27. Based on the price per cubic yard, that is your raw cost of material. Spreading, compacting, loaming and seeding will almost certainly double the total cost.
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Old 04-27-2009, 10:16 AM   #13
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Thanks. Are there any other solutions out there?
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Old 04-27-2009, 02:53 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fiji-fa5 View Post
Plea:
Can someone out there anywhere, that has run into this issue before, please help me? Or at least help me figure out how to temporary fix so I can sell this POS . I am not going to spend 12k-20k on a no guarantee fix. Someone please please help!!!!

Pictures: 38 photos total
http://s302.photobucket.com/albums/n...view=slideshow
So you just want a quick fix so you can pass the problem on to someone else. Don't bother with a fix then, just sell it during a dry period. You won't find an inexpensive quick fix

And no one will be able to give you a guaranteed fix to an unknown problem

They built on a wet land
This is what happens
Unless the land is HIGHER then some surrounding land then water will sit at the lowest point
Drains do not help unless there is somewhere for the water to drain TO

Last edited by Scuba_Dave; 04-27-2009 at 03:49 PM.
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Old 04-27-2009, 03:44 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Scuba_Dave View Post
So you just want a quick fix so you can pass the problem on to someone else. Don't bother with a fix then, just sell it during a dry period. You won't find an inexpensive quick fix

And no one will be able to give you a guaranteed fix to an unknown problem

They built on a wet land
This is what happens [IMG]http://www.********************/images/smilies/frown.gif[/IMG]

Unless the land is HIGHER then some surrounding land then water will sit at the lowest point
Drains do not help unless there is somewhere for the water to drain TO

Thats the problem. It has not ever been able to get dry.

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