From the sky is falling to reopening within two weeks? You must be saying to yourself ‘the sky...

From the sky is falling to reopening within two weeks? You must be saying to yourself ‘the sky mustn’t have fallen that far’ or ‘the sky wasn’t that heavy.’ What exactly happened? Why was it so dark and apocalyptic two weeks ago? Well here goes, in full gruesome detail.

As many of you will remember the bathroom was out of order for about two weeks. That was because the lateral sewer went out and we were lining up the professionals to resolve the problem. As I said before, the lateral is the exit line for -let’s just call it grey water. So every building has a line in from a water main and a line out to the sewer -two separate lines, two separate bills (at least in St. Louis, MSD and something on a yellow invoice). The lateral line starts in the basement -typically the big ‘do not disturb’ vertical pipe that goes right into your slab and runs under or through a foundation wall and several feet (70 to 150 feet) under other structures, yards, parking slabs, garages, carriage houses, etc. to the  main sewer line. Essentially, it’s buried and in your lifetime you’re never suppose to think about it or know it exists -it’s like magic, the toilet flushes and the sink drains and that’s all you have to know.

So the Friday before last the work of tearing up the basement floor and finding the lateral started. But low and behold minutes into this work part of the foundation fell away. All work stopped, the plumber shrugged his shoulders and said you have to fix the foundation before I can fix the lateral in the basement. All this is happening against the further context of having to have another team of professionals on the outside digging up the line from the foundation to the main line. Just for context -depending on the depth of the outside line the outside guys charge about $6000 for 60 feet of trench and new pipe and the inside guys charge about $200 per foot of basement floor they have to break up (which adds up wick fast). And foundation guys -well they’re all over the place -it’s a scary time and they know they have you. It’s kind of like that show from way back when called ‘Scared Straight’.

Now, screw it down one more level, the foundation fell because there was no pipe left for the grey water to travel in and instead it just created a ‘marshy’, ‘swampy’ field under the corner of the building and/or basement slab. So the floor tied the wall ‘up’, once it was broke the tie was broke and thus disaster. So you couldn’t see anything but a hole, a ‘swamp’ ‘grey water’ hole and a dropped foundation. And the foundation guy wouldn’t do work until the ‘swamp’ was dried up. Thus, a catch 22 situation resulted -with everyone wanting $1000’s of dollars -(well the outside guys were ready to go, it was just getting on their calendar and them understanding how much of the 100 feet run to dig up, which actually require the inside bit to be done).

It was at this point the sky fell. It got dark. It felt desperate, hopeless, -the end of the pier. I think it would have been too, but for Mike. Now not many people probably know who Mike is -but he’s the dude with the cycle shop in the back. Mike saved the day, because he said, ‘WTF, we’re already screwed, what’s the worst that could happen -we’ll do it.’ And so we did. We cut the floor, dug the ‘swamp’ out -which took 2 days and was most likely the most humbling and gross thing I’ve had to do. We cored 25 feet of clay pipe, dry fit the interior lateral, had the plumber bless it, the outside guys used our coring to connect the lateral they dug, and we poured the concrete. There was a whole lot of collateral damage -like the patio slab, the fence and of course days of lost business. So with lots and lots of physical muscle, some dollars and Mike’s fearlessness, we lifted the sky. A couple of other people were also on the lever arm as we lifted the sky and include Marz, Jeff, and Mark. I might still be in some well of deep, dark depression without them.

Along the way, many people offered to help, gave us encouraging words, offered us spaces -I mean, not hypothetical stuff, but ‘I have this space, I’ll let you use it rent free for as long as you need it’. In addition to these generous offers, two individuals (and by the way, extremely early adaptors of the shop), set up ‘Save Sump’ campaigns -like Save Ferris. You can find these campaigns at and @tim535353 (on twitter). Please help them help us. Also, see you Thursday.

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