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Kansas City MO 64131





Cindy Maddera

The torrential down pour from last week has just about everyone stressed about their basements. We are part of that group, but we were lucky because our basement has only a few leaks. Our neighbors'  had about two feet of water in their basement. Most homes in Oklahoma do not have basements, which blew Michael's mind when I told him this. "WHAT ABOUT ALL THE TORNADOES!!!!" I explained that we either stood outside watching the tornado, we sit in a bathtub while wearing a helmet or we stuff ourselves into a closet. Any way, I know nothing about basements. Every time I see water in the basement, I want to throw up because I think it is going to cost us a million dollars. Some people are like "basements are awesome!" while I'm all "basements are a hole that your whole house can fall into!"

We would like our basement to be a livable space and recognize that a wet floor is not conducive to our basement goals. All of our research says that the first thing we need to do is some landscaping. Over time, houses settle and sink, creating a moat all around the foundation. This is a perfect place for water to flow into when it rains. The idea is to pile up enough dirt around the house to make a slope so that water can flow away from the house. We have not started this project yet because it is going to be a big project involving a few truck loads of dirt. The idea of it actually makes me slouch. I barely keep up with weeding the vegetable garden. Also, other than the garbage hydrangea and the banana plant, I am not the kind of person who plants ornamental stuff. Landscaping means planting crap to make things look nice and I am not thrilled with the idea of the constant upkeep. 

Second to landscaping, the next thing to help keep water away from the foundation, is to make sure that the gutters are clean and that the water flows easily out the down spouts. This sounds easy enough. Clean the gutters. We do this a few times a year. We hate it and it is gross, but we do it. The problem is that there is a section of gutter right at the corner above our front stoop that doesn't drain properly even when it is clean because it is angled higher on the wrong end. So water just fills up there and pours over the side, the water creating a large puddle in front of the house. I mentioned this to my friend Sarah and she said "We had that problem!" They fixed it by installing a rain chain that directs the water into a rain barrel. That sounded easy enough, so Michael and I decided that this would be our first step to water proofing the basement.

And we have learned a whole lot about rain chains.

You know those really fancy decorative rain chains that you see in the magazines? Don't buy those kind. Yes, they are pretty and they give you the illusion that you will build a beautiful zen garden around the rain chain. If you buy this kind you will be spending around sixty to eighty dollars for something that will not guide water as much as it splashes water EVERY WHERE. You know what works? Chain. Actual linked chain. Michael took our fancy rain chain back and exchanged it for a different fancy rain chain. When that fancy rain chain did the same thing as the first one, we just hung some chain to see what would happen and it was perfect. Michael is taking the second fancy rain chain back today and buying some length of chain. We are pot committed now because there is a sizable hole drilled through the gutter. 

The rain barrel is about the only part of this project that was easy. We didn't want to, nor could we, spend $130 on a plastic barrel with a spigot. Also, those barrels where too big for the space where we need it to sit. So, Michael made us a rain barrel. We bought a medium sized plastic pot, like the kind you'd plant one of those palm plants in. Michael used the drain pan that normally would sit under the pot for a lid, drilling a hole in the center for the rain chains. Then he drilled a hole in the side and installed a spigot. Easy peasy. We attached a hose to the spigot and as long as I stay below the rain pot, I can water the plants in the front yard. We can also just drag the hose out and let the water drain down the front yard if the rain pot starts to get full.

Landscaping and gutters and flooding basements are all things that make me question home ownership. The air conditioner in the living room has also started to make a weird noise. I do not want to replace this with another window unit, but we are not in a position to finally instal a central air unit. Hey Hard Place. I'd like to introduce to my new friend, Rock. The more money we dish out for home repairs, the more I feel like setting the house on fire. After talking to my neighbor about his flooded basement, I get the feeling that he feels the same way. A couple of weeks ago, part of that same tree that split and landed across my backyard fell on his car and totaled it. He's been asking around for estimates on getting the rest of the tree cut down before more of it falls down and kills someone. He rubbed his hand over his head as exclaimed at the cost and how that tree gives him nightmares. I just nodded my head in agreement. 

They lie to you about home ownership being part of the American Dream. It's really part of the American Nightmare.