OT: 5$ basement flood insurance (rambling)

well i got the door back on my car (check the dumb dumb dumb thread if you dont know what happened). only cost about 250 including gas to get to the junkyard and paying a friend to help me out. so i got off easy on that one considering the magnitude of the stupidity.
but while i was at the junkyard, i was talking to a guy about my basement. ive got a 100+ year old house and theres a smelly drain in the basement. ive tried dumping water down it to fill the trap, and a couple other things, but it still stinks. i think its just so old the trap is leaking into the ground. btw, if anybody has any ideas im all ears. so i wanted to plug it up but that makes me afraid of what might happen if the basement starts to flood. the pipes burst in a friends house once during christmas but luckily i came over and heard the noise and saw the leak through the window i got the water turned off but i think i was just minutes away from seeing a whole tree full of presents getting soaked. they didnt come home for like 10 hours so it would have been a hell of a mess.
but im straying...
they make alarms for this but he told me how to take a smoke detector and just solder two wires to the opposite sides of the test switch. run the other wires down to the ground and use some tape to keep them far enough apart so the tips dont touch, and expose a quarter inch or so of each lead. then put a rock on it to keep it on the ground. if the two ends of the wire get wet enough the alarm starts to go off. sure as heck, it works. if i dunk the ends of the wire in some water it beeps. you can get more tricky about it, and i even found some websites describing the procedure (easy to find with search engine). but all i used was 6' of speaker wire and a 5$ smoke alarm. if i had it to do over again, i would probably test it with about 10' of wire to make sure it still beeped when wet, so i could put the smoke detector on the ceiling and have it do double duty. as it is its zip tied near the water meter.
so anyway, just thought id pass this little tip along. real moisture alarms seem to start at 20 bucks and the ones that cheap are basically a glorified version of the frankenstein smoke detector (but they dont also detect smoke!!) so its a bit of savings and if you already have a smoke detector its free. if you put the tips of the wires in the appropriate place, youll know long before the water is even over the top of the sump, or can just put em on the ground out of site for general protection.
randy
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Cooking oil.
It'll last a long time, yet still allow the drain to work if needed. Our building mechanics at work do it all the time in shower stalls that never get used. The oil seems to keep out the sewer gas for 5-6 months at a time.
Barry
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Are you talking like "vegetable Oil"? Doesn't it get ransid after a while? I am not being smart, just asking a question.
Thanks!
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ya actually it might. for a house it would probably be better to use mineral oil. for the application he was talking about oil would probably be fine. but rancid oil probably wouldnt smell worse than my open sewer drain <g>
in any case, i did try the oil technique, and i used a flexible rod that i could attach a piece of paper towel to and pretty much confirmed my suspicion. there is a trap in the line, and i pretty much knew how far i could stick the rod in until it would hit the oil. but over the course of about 4 hours the oil drained away so that pretty much confirms it. i think the pipe itself is leaking at the trap. for all i know it's 100 years old so not surprising...
but i did come up with another idea involving an inflated latex glove filling the pipe, and a floating device with a pin on it. you blow up the glove while its in the pipe and tie it off, then use my little rigged up device so if the drain starts to fill, the cork will float popping the glove (the actual drain hole is on the side of the drain area so there is room under it. theres also a hole in the bottom but thats mostly to collect the big stuff like screws instead of sending it down the drain). the cork sits inside a piece of pipe with holes drilled in the bottom that cant tip over so when the cork starts floating the pin will definitely point up. i tested it out 3 times, works like a charm. keeps out the smell, and drains if it floods!
now to see how often i have to change the glove since the the air will leak out..... if anyone has a better idea for something that will stay inflated, seal a 1-1/2" hole airtight, and can be popped by a pin, im open to suggestions. or even a simpler system.
randy

while? I

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wrote:

set a pingpong ball over the hole. enough water to matter will float the ball. if a pingpong ball is too small, try a toy store for a larger lightweight ball or a craft store for a styrofoam one.
you don't want a broken latex glove getting stuck somewhere down in the drain....
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ya i wish life were so simple i started out simply looking for a plug that would float. unfortunately the drain hole isnt in the bottom of the drain. the drain is sort of a bowl shaped thing with a hole in the bottom and about 6" of pipe thats capped off for a cleanout. if you drop something like a screw down it it will just fall down this hole instead of going down the main pipe.
the actual hole that the water drains out of is on the side of the bowl and you cant set anything there. i might be able to stuff a styrofoam plug in it, but whether or not it will block the smell is questionable and since there is a grate on top of the drain bowl there isnt much room for anything to rise unless it can lift the grate also, but if i dont screw that down its a trippng hazard (trust me <g>)
i think ill tie a string around one of the fingers and also around the metal float holder. should keep the bulk of it from going down the drain, but if the system activates and my basement is flooding i dont see how it could get much worse <g> eventually ill come up with something better.
ive been sort of toying around with some sort of cover that covers the entire drain bowl and maybe even replaces the grate. the cover would have some sort of spring loaded trap door in it that would open when enough water was pushing down on it.
randy

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xrongor wrote:

That's actually a better idea than the floating plug. If the plug doesn't lift before the water level rises to cover it then water pressure may hold it down even if it is a material that floats.

--
--John
Reply to jclarke at ae tee tee global dot net
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I think you need to dig up your floor and replace the trap.
--

FF

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On 28 Apr 2004 01:40:53 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (ToolMiser) wrote:

I would have thought the same thing, but it works.
One of my buildings is a three story office that used to have 75 occupants. Now it's got 10. We used to have a problem with traps drying out and a god-awful stink filling the building. The cooking oil, as in plain ol' Wesson, lasts 5-6 months before it needs to be replenished.
If someone uses the oiled trap, it still works. It wouldn't if it was sealed.
Barry
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just as a side note, the glove is definitely keeping the smell out. smells minty fresh down there now.
randy
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wrote:

Sometimes the thrill of the chase is the attraction! <G>
NEVER try to explain a "duct tape solution" to the wife.
Barry
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